Opera Scotland

War Requiem 1968Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera War Requiem

At this period, the Festival Director, Peter Diamand, sometimes tried to base the Festival on one or two themes, such as an in depth study of a composer. 1967 had been Igor Stravinsky year, with the composer still well enough to attend a major survey of his work. For 1968 the Festival focussed on two composers in Franz Schubert and Benjamin Britten.

Britten was still well enough not just to attend, but to perform as well. When his War Requiem first appeared at Coventry in 1962, he had been the principal conductor, with an assistant co-ordinating the work of the chamber ensemble. Here he took on that apparently secondary task, with the great Carlo Maria Giulini in charge.

This was a very special event for another reason, in that it brought together in performance the three soloists for which it had been created. In 1962, the Soviet authorities had prevented Vishnevskaya from travelling at the last minute and the soprano role had famously been taken by Heather Harper. The Russian soprano had been permitted to take part in the recording sessions in January 1963, but here she was in performance together with Pears and Fischer-Dieskau.

It is useful to remember that the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, founded in 1965, was initially called the Scottish Festival Chorus, consisting of three sections based at and trained in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, coming together for regular practice sessions. This year, it is of interest to note that there are among the members listed, several familiar names. Margot Archibald, Marjory Williamson and James McJannet all worked with Scottish Opera for many years. Even more distinguished names are listed among the sopranos - two students who must have gained invaluable experience in such company are Cynthia Buchan and Margaret Marshall.

Performance DatesWar Requiem 1968

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Usher Hall | Edinburgh

1 Sep, 20.00

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