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Death, Burial, and the Afterlife

Dublin Death Studies


Edited By Philip Cottrell and Wolfgang Marx

The essays incorporated into this volume share an ambitious interest in investigating death as an individual, social and metaphorical phenomenon that may be exemplified by themes involving burial rituals, identity, and commemoration. The disciplines represented are as diverse as art history, classics, history, music, languages and literatures, and the approaches taken reflect various aspects of contemporary death studies. These include the fear of death, the role of death in shaping human identity, the ‘taming’ of death through ritual or aesthetic sublimation, and the utilization of death – particularly dead bodies – to manipulate social and political ends.

The topics covered include the exhumation and reburial of Cardinal John Henry Newman;the funerary monument of John Donne in his shroud; the funeral of Joseph Stalin; the theme of mutilation and non-burial of the corpse in Homer’s Iliad; the individual’s encounter with death in the work of the German Philosopher Josef Pieper; the Requiem by the Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford; the imagery of death in Giovanni Verga’s novel Mastro-don Gesualdo, and the changing attitudes toward death in the writings of Michel Foucault.

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6 | ‘emotional rather than cerebral’? Charles Villiers Stanford’s Requiem

6 | ‘emotional rather than cerebral’? Charles Villiers Stanford’s Requiem


Wolfgang Marx

Charles Villiers Stanford’s Requiem op. 63 is probably the first full setting of the Latin requiem mass by an Irish composer. After its first performance on 6 October 1897 at the Birmingham Musical Festival, the anonymous reviewer of the Musical News even stated that,

Professor Villiers Stanford’s Requiem … is said, I know not with what truth, to be the first important setting of the Roman Catholic office ever composed by a prominent British musician.1

Indeed, there seems to be no earlier setting of the requiem by an Irish-born composer, yet we now know that there are some by British predecessors. While both Luc Voirin and Gilbert Chase’s catalogues of requiem compositions 2 contain only references to earlier funeral compositions (yet not requiems) by British composers, the requiem database on lists altogether four earlier British compositions: an undated setting by Nicholas Ludford (ca. 1485-ca. 1557), another undated one by William Hawes (1785-1846), one from 1816 by William Linley (1771-1816) and finally one from 1853 by Robert Lucas Pearsall (1795-1856).3

Stanford’s Requiem is dedicated to the memory of Lord Frederick Leighton, one of the most famous and most respected British painters of his time. Leighton was born in 1830 and during the first 30 years of his life spent more time abroad than in his native country, living for an extended time in France, Germany and Italy. He became president of the Royal Academy in 1878, but had an interest...

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