Listen: Requiem

Excerpt from "Rex Tremendae," Requiem

Excerpt from "Agnus Dei," Requiem

Excerpt from "Sanctus," Requiem

From the archival recording of the world premiere, performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Orchestra, with the Los Angeles Childrens Choir, under the direction of Grant Gershon.

Christopher Rouse Requiem audio courtesy of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Boosey & Hawkes.

Conductor Grant Gershon presents an overview of the world premiere of Rouse's Requiem to the Los Angeles Master Chorale Board of Directors 


Christopher Rouse speaks with SDG's former CEO, Chandler Branch, on the eve of the premiere of his Requiem

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.



Christopher Rouse is one of America's most prominent composers of orchestral music. His works have won a Pulitzer Prize (for his Trombone Concerto) and a Grammy Award (for Concert de Gaudí), as well as election to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters. Rouse has created a body of work perhaps unequalled in its emotional intensity. The New York Times has called it "some of the most anguished, most memorable music around." The Baltimore Sun has written: "When the music history of the late 20th century is written, I suspect the explosive and passionate music of Rouse will loom large."

Christopher Rouse is published by Boosey & Hawkes. For a complete biography visit Christopher Rouse’s website.


Christopher Rouse

Mixed chorus (SATB), children’s chorus, baritone soloist & orchestra
DURATION: 90 minutes
TEXT: traditional Latin text of the Requiem interspersed with six poems that reflect the various ways in which death presents itself Requiem mass commissioned to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Hector Berlioz.



World Premiere
March 2007
Los Angeles Master Chorale
Los Angeles Children's Chorus
Los Angeles Master Chorale Orchestra    
Sanford Sylvan, baritone
Grant Gershon, conductor
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles, California

New York Premiere
May 2014
Westminster Symphonic Choir
New York Philharmonic
Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Jacques Imbralio, baritone
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Carnegie Hall
New York, New York

(see "New York Premiere" for more information)









World Premiere of the Rouse Requiem, Photo: Lee Salem Photography, Inc.  

Soli Deo Gloria commissioned Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse to compose a Requiem in honor of the 2003 bicentenary of Hector Berlioz’ birth.

For Rouse, Berlioz was an especially powerful composer, and Rouse describes Berlioz’s own Requiem as “one of the most stupendous and imaginative of all such works, a unique example of the genre.” Rouse made the decision to set the Latin text with the same cuts, emendations, and reshufflings that Berlioz used, and to intersperse the traditional Latin text of the Requiem with texts from six poems that reflect the various ways in which death presents itself. The chorus sings the liturgical text, while the baritone soloist gives voice to the interpolated poetry.

“My goal was to use the chorus, restricted to the Latin liturgical text, to express the enormity of ‘death’ in its deepest context; the role of the bass baritone soloist would then be to make the experience of death more personal by adopting the classic figure of the ‘Everyman’ whose life is marked by the deaths of loved ones around him.

“The work begins with the soloist singing alone the lines of Seamus Heaney's "Mid-Term Break," in which a boy leaves school to attend the funeral of his younger brother, struck by a car. Before the "Tuba Mirum" come lines from Siegfried Sassoon's "Suicide in the Trenches," in which the poet describes the self-destruction of a shell-shocked comrade. The "Rex Tremendae" is succeeded by excerpts from Michelangelo's ode on the death of his father, and the "Sanctus" is preceded by Ben Jonson's "On My First Son," a heartbreaking contemplation of the death of his child. Before the "Agnus Dei" comes John Milton's Sonnet 23, in which he dreams that his dead wife has returned to him. Finally, Michelangelo's "On Immortality" (set, like the earlier Michelangelo poem, in the original Italian), sung near the very end of the score, speaks of the "Everyman" figure's own death.”

Reprinted by permission from Christopher Rouse’s program notes
© 2007 by Christopher Rouse


Los Angeles Master Chorale and Orchestra performing the premiere of Rouse's Requiem, Photo: Lee Salem Photography, Inc.  

As one reviewer wrote, this is “a Requiem forged in crisis.” The composer was in New York and about halfway through the composition of the work on 9/11. Though Rouse chose not to turn the Requiem into an explicit memorial of the event, he wrote in the program notes, “I have elected to attempt, in my own inadequate way, a remembrance of all who have died as well as those who have survived and grieved for them. It is my hope that my Requiem will, in the end, provide some sort of solace.”





Rouse’s is the first great traditional American Requiem... with trumpets pealing to summon the dead or, when God is described in all His majestic glory, with percussion storming the land and the chorus describing the indescribable … Under it all is a magnificent lyricism, which is the real Berlioz influence. Small, seemingly unimportantly melodic or rhythmic details swell into wildly unpredictable castles of glory.”—Los Angeles Times



“Beautiful…emotional…powerful…dramatic…peaceful. This is a Requiem that sets a standard for composers of the future while holding its own against compositions of the past.”—Sequenza 21, Contemporary Classical Music


For complete reviews of the Rouse Requiem, visit these links:

Los Angeles Times: “At long last, a fitting American Requiem”

Sequenza 21: "Last Night in L.A.: The Rouse 'Requiem'

“In Which Our Hero” blog: “MUSIC: Los Angeles Master Chorale : Rouse / Requiem”

The Orange County Register: “A Requiem forged in crisis"

“The Arts Blog”: "Review: Christopher Rouse's Requiem"

“The Rest Is Noise” blog: “ffffffff”