Requiem

I got word today that a person that interviewed me eleven years ago when I came into my current company has advanced cancer and the prognosis is rather grim.

It was about ten years ago that I myself got the first news that my mother might have cancer. That news would later be confirmed on my birthday in November 2000.

After I got the news, I went out and got myself a CD to be a present to me from my mother so that she wouldn’t have to worry about that. It turns out that she went ahead and got me something herself: in a way I think that it was helpful for her to focus on me in that motherly way.

The CD I got was Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem For My Friend.

I fell in love with Preisner’s work first with his music for the film La Double Vie de Veronique. And I’ve always had a fondness for the requiem mass. My first CD ever was Sir Neville Marriner’s recording of Mozart’s Requiem (which I still have). So, with those two things in mind, this new recording was a very logical thing for me to get, even if it was perhaps a bit morbid given the news I’d gotten.

A friend of mine gave a talk this weekend comparing the Mozart and Verdi Requiems. And one of the things that he was highlighting was the degree of passion and feeling in the Verdi. I do love Mozart’s for many reasons but the Verdi really does exude passion. And given the subject matter, death. There are ways in which the requiem, of all pieces of music, really should be passionate and should express the classic Kübler-Ross five stages of grief or whatever emotions death brings up for us.

For me, that rainy autumn 2000, what I felt can only be called anguish. And I found amazing musical expression of anguish in the Lacrimosa in Preisner’s Requiem.

I remember many a day or evening listening to that as I would cry into a pillow trying to let all of the anguish I felt flow out of me.

And so today, as I sit listening to the sounds of a rainy autumn, thinking about others going through what I went through, with the discussion of requiem music and feeling fresh in my head, it seems appropriate to be thinking and writing about that piece that, for me, expresses anguish so well.

My thoughts and best wishes to J and his family.