Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Gregory, Robin. "Dies Irae." Music and Letters 34 (April 1953): 113-19.

Background information on the Dies Irae sequence notes no records of the melody's origins and attributes the text to Thomas of Celano. Composers have used the chant in two ways: (1) as an integral part of their settings of the Requiem Mass in its proper context; (2) in secular works, often in a debased form to help create the appropriate diabolical or supernatural atmosphere. Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique was the first in a Romantic trend of using this theme associated with death and the last judgment in its most terrible aspects. The character of the melody's significance has changed significantly from its original connotation. Composers of the Romantic era used the melody for its associations with terror and dread, while ignoring the message of hope that is also explicit in the words. Some manifestations of the Dies Irae melody served as models for other composers to follow. One example is Liszt's Dante Symphony, which influenced Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death and Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini. In the twentieth century, the tradition was kept alive by Sergei Rachmaninaov, who used the Dies Irae to represent evil spirits in the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.

Works: Berlioz: Requiem (135), Symphonie Fantastique (135-36); Alfred Bruneau: Requiem (135); Liszt: Totentanz (136, 137); Mussorgsky: Songs and Dances of Death (136); Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre (137); Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini (137), In Dark Hell (137), Suite in G Major (137); Rachmaninoff: Tone Poem, Op. 29 (138), Symphonic Dances, Op. 45 (138), Symphony No. 3 (138), Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (138); Vaughan Williams: Tudor Portraits (138).

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Jean Pang, Randy Goldberg

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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