Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, 1887–1890
Gabriel Urbain Fauré was the most advanced composer of his generation in France, he developed a personal style that had considerable influence on many early 20th-century composers. His harmonic and melodic innovations also affected the teaching of harmony for later generations.
Fauré was born into a cultured but not especially musical family. His talent became clear when he was a small boy. At the age of nine, he was sent to the Ecole Niedermeyer music college in Paris, where he was trained to be a church organist and choirmaster. Among his teachers was Camille Saint-Saëns, who became a lifelong friend.
By his last years, Fauré was recognized in France as the leading French composer of his day. An unprecedented national musical tribute was held for him in Paris in 1922, headed by the president of the French Republic.
Fauré's music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with the modernism of the second quarter of the 20th century. Grove Dictionary "describes him as the most advanced composer of his generation in France, notes that his harmonic and melodic innovations influenced the teaching of harmony for later generations. During the last twenty years of his life, he suffered from increasing deafness. In contrast with the charm of his earlier music, his works from this period are sometimes elusive and withdrawn in character, and at other times turbulent and impassioned."
Fauré was interviewed by Louis Aguettant on July 12, 1902. The following excerpt on the Requiem was originally published in Comoedia (1954, p. 6). The English translation is taken from Robert Orledge's biography:
It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience.
The music of Gounod has been criticized for its over-inclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist's nature?
As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying buriala services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.