Sunday, November 04, 2018

Wilfred Owen died 100 years ago today

Wilfred Owen, now the most celebrated of the war poets, died on 4 November 1918, a week before the end of the first world war.

Benjamin Britten set eight of Owen's poems, along with words from the Latin Mass for the Dead, to form his masterly War Requiem. It was commissioned for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral and first performed there on 30 May 1962.

This clip features Britten's setting of Owen's At a Calvary near the Ancre. The photographs is uses are unusually well chosen.

You can find a wonderful recording of Britten rehearsing the many forces involved in the work for its first recording the following year. It reveals a sense of humour that the biographers often mention, but is rarely found in the public record.

I learnt this afternoon, thanks to someone on Twitter, that the granddaughter of Owen's mentor Siegfried Sassoon lives in Kibworth.

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