A Mean Joe Green

You have already heard part of the Verdi Requiem but you may not know it. His version of the “Dies Irae” hymn has been used in countless movies and trailers.

I felt the power of Giuseppe Verdi’s work while listening to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Knoxville Choral Society on Friday night at the Tennessee Theatre. My wife, who sings in the KCS,  knew I would love “Dies Irae.” She predicted I would also love the trumpets sounding from the balcony during the spectacular “Tuba Mirum.” She was correct, as usual.

In his pre-show chat, Maestro Lucas Richman talked about the piece’s origin as a Catholic funeral Mass. He was impressed by its universal appeal,which made my wife smile. The word catholic means universal. Richman, who happens to compose beautiful Judaica music, was also impressed by the Jewish appeal of the Requiem. Like all Catholic Masses, Verdi’s Requiem uses prayers from both the Old and New Testaments.

The Maestro also talked about a film called “Defiant Requiem” that aired recently on PBS. I happened to flip past it on a night my wife was at the weekly Choral Society rehearsal. I set the DVR to record it for her.

The Jewish inmates of Terezín concentration camp sang the Catholic music of Verdi as a “subversive condemnation” of their captors. In the trailer for the film, you can hear “Dies Irae” at the 1:12 mark:

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