Requiem for Jan Palach.
This Requiem, written in July, 2008, was first performed in Luxembourg and is now recorded on CD. Scores are available from the website www.bullockmusic.info. The work does not offer visions of sanctity, paradise and redemption. Nor is it a celebration of life, or death. By adding to some of the traditional Latin text mighty lines from Jan Hus (some of which are inscribed on his monument in the Old Town Square in Prague), some graffiti which appeared, very briefly, on the Wenceslas Monument just after Jan Palach’s death, and which were rapidly removed, and other words from the Prague of 1968 and 1969 as well as Article One of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the music seeks to confront the horror of a despairing suicide, the smell of petrol and burning flesh and desperation in the face of overwhelming political brutality.
Traditional consolation (in the shape, here, of two quotations from the sweetest of Requiems, that of Gabriel Fauré) is irrelevant, and thus violently dispensed with. Eternal Light is replaced by the incandescence of flames. Enduring values are sought. The hope implied by ethical statements is subordinated to the vital necessity of remembering.
The music is tonal, despite dissonance, and cyclical. Themes and motifs recur, particularly an organ phrase which seeks to evoke rising heat and flame. At times anguished, the music resolves into stable tonalities associated with enduring ethical concepts. In other places the treatment is almost bucolic, and perhaps with a feel of Bohemia. There is a place for innocence.
SATB, sop solo, organ
cyfarchion cynnes, eine gute Zeit, with best wishes,
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