Requiem (Donizetti)

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Gaetano Donizetti, from a lithography by Josef Kriehuber (1842) Gaetano Donizetti 2.jpg
Gaetano Donizetti, from a lithography by Josef Kriehuber (1842)

The Messa da requiem in D minor (1835) is a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) by Italian opera composer Gaetano Donizetti. It is scored for five soloists (SATB and a baritone), mixed chorus and orchestra. A performance lasts about 62–75 minutes.

D minor minor key with a single-flat key signature

D minor is a minor scale based on D, consisting of the pitches D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. Its key signature has one flat. Its relative major is F major and its parallel major is D major.

A musical setting is a musical composition that is written on the basis of a literary work. The literary work is said to be set, or adapted, to music. Musical settings include choral music and other vocal music. A musical setting is made to particular words, such as poems. By contrast, a musical arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work, rather than a brand new piece of music. An arrangement often refers to a change in medium or style and can be instrumental, not necessarily vocal music.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.



Began in October 1835 to commemorate the death of Donizetti's friend and rival Vincenzo Bellini in Naples, the work was left unfinished (probably due to composer unable to conduct it in December, because he was not in the city). It was published in 1870 by Lucca in a vocal with organ arrangement. The first known performance took place the same year in Donizetti's native Bergamo, in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, under Alessandro Nini. It was repeated in 1875 on the occasion of the translation of the remains of Donizetti and his teacher Simon Mayr to Santa Maria Maggiore; then on the centenary of Donizetti's birth (1897) and death (1948, under Gianandrea Gavazzeni). [1]

Vincenzo Bellini Italian opera composer

Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was an Italian opera composer, who was known for his long-flowing melodic lines for which he was named "the Swan of Catania". Many years later, in 1898, Giuseppe Verdi "praised the broad curves of Bellini's melody: 'there are extremely long melodies as no-one else had ever made before'."

Naples Comune in Campania, Italy

Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan. In 2017, around 967,069 people lived within the city's administrative limits while its province-level municipality has a population of 3,115,320 residents. Its continuously built-up metropolitan area is the second or third largest metropolitan area in Italy and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.

Bergamo Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Bergamo is a city in the alpine Lombardy region of northern Italy, approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Milan, and approximately 30 km (19 mi) from Switzerland, the alpine lakes Como and Iseo, and 70 km (43 mi) from Garda and Maggiore. The Bergamo Alps begin immediately north of the city.

The manuscript is preserved in the Conservatorio di San Pietro a Majella (Naples). [1] In 1974 Vilmos Leskó prepared a new Ricordi edition of the Requiem, and since then it came to be regarded as one of the most important non-operatic compositions by Donizetti. It could also influence Giuseppe Verdi in his own Requiem (1873–1874), if he was acquainted with it.

Giuseppe Verdi 19th-century Italian opera composer

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Requiem (Verdi) musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass by Giuseppe Verdi

The Messa da Requiem is a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) for four soloists, double choir and orchestra by Giuseppe Verdi. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. The first performance, at the San Marco church in Milan on 22 May 1874, marked the first anniversary of Manzoni's death. The work was at one time called the Manzoni Requiem. It is rarely performed in liturgy, but rather in concert form of around 85–90 minutes in length. Musicologist David Rosen calls it 'probably the most frequently performed major choral work composed since the compilation of Mozart's Requiem'.

The Requiem for Bellini is one of four [2] Requiem settings by Donizetti, but the only one to survive to the present day. Among the others were a Requiem for Niccolò Zingarelli (composed 1837 in 3 days) [1] and a Requiem for Lorenzo Fazzini  [ it ] (performed in San Ferdinando, Naples, 7 November 1837). [3]

Orchestration [4]


For his setting Donizetti used the traditional Latin Requiem text. The opening Requiem aeternam section is preceded by an orchestral introduction, of which the orchestration is lost. A gradual (In memoria aeterna) follows. While Donizetti completed the Sequentia and Offertorium, there is no trace of Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei, which are thought to be never composed. The work concludes with the Lux aeterna and Libera me.



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The Requiem Mass is notable for the large number of musical compositions that it has inspired, including settings by Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Bruckner, Dvořák, Fauré and Duruflé. Originally, such compositions were meant to be performed in liturgical service, with monophonic chant. Eventually the dramatic character of the text began to appeal to composers to an extent that they made the requiem a genre of its own, and the compositions of composers such as Verdi are essentially concert pieces rather than liturgical works.


  1. 1 2 3 William Ashbrook (1983). Donizetti and His Operas. Cambridge University Press. p. 724. ISBN   978-0-521-27663-4.
  2. Gearge Hall. Booklet notes to DECCA 425 043-2
  3. John Allitt (1991). Donizetti in the light of romanticism and the teaching of Johann Simon Mayr. Element.
  4. Robert Chase (8 September 2004). Dies Irae: A Guide to Requiem Music. Scarecrow Press. p. 256. ISBN   978-0-585-47162-4.
  5. The dates given here are those of recording and issue respectively.


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