The Messe de Requiem op. 54 of Camille Saint-Saëns: An Amalgamation of Contrasting Stylistic Trends in Requiem Composition in Nineteenth-Century Paris
French Classical Music
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractCamille Saint-Saëns's (1835–1921) Messe de Requiem op. 54 (1878) is among the many works by that composer that are all but forgotten by contemporary musicians. As is the case with most of Saint-Saëns's forgotten works, it is of remarkably high quality, possessing numerous features that make it desirable and accessible to a variety of ensembles. This study seeks to bring greater awareness of the piece to a wider audience, to provide a framework for understanding the most prominent style features of the work, and to ascertain its relationship to other well-known French Requiems of the nineteenth century. To this end, this study identifies and summarizes two trends in French Requiem composition in the nineteenth century: the dramatic trend, exemplified by the Grande Messe des morts op. 5 (1837) of Hector Berlioz, and the conservative trend, exemplified by the second and third of Charles Gounod's four Requiem settings: the Messe breve pour les morts (1873), and the Messe funèbre (1883). Salient style features of these three works are discussed in order to determine how their respective composers bring about the dramatic and conservative affects of their respective works. An analysis of the form, text setting, expressive elements (including dynamics, articulation, and orchestration), harmonic practice, and choral voice leading of Saint-Saëns's Requiem is also given, including a discussion of the relationship of the style features of this work to those of the Berlioz and Gounod Requiems.
Degree ProgramGraduate College