I’ve always wanted to compose a Requiem, which is why I first wrote Marche Funèbre, Adagio, Requiescat, Simply Largo and Stabat Mater. For me, it makes part of the works as a composer just as a Symphony or a String Quartet. Obviously, when I was young, I knew I had not lived enough and did not have the spiritual, aesthetical and life experiences to be able to compose a mature Requiem. It was not enough for me to just compose music to some text, moreover in a language like Latin that I had never studied appropriately, and ultimately, in my youth I was a convinced Atheist. Through life one changes, the motivations that inspire your music change, many questions about the afterlife spring up and it is difficult to be sure whether one is a Believer or not. Empathy and sensitivity force you to tolerate your physical and psychological suffering and extend them to all people.
I was baptized Catholic through the will of my Roman grandmother who was partly Jewish. I never practiced any Religion till around 11 to 14 because my father was a convinced Atheist. Though my mother was Church of England, she understood the necessity of being older before I was given some religious education so that I would be able to make up my own mind. Ultimately, my Requiem was composed not out of religious necessity, but out of a humane and spiritual sharing and it is dedicated to my parents. During my archaeological travels, I have always tried to read Latin inscriptions with their affinities to Italian which have always fascinated me. When I read the text of the Stabat Mater by Jacopone da Todi for the first time, since it is easier to understand than Tommaso da Celano’s Requiem, I was very struck by the very expressive outcry of suffering.
I composed the Stabat Mater as a trial for the Requiem. Furthermore, since Latin is no longer spoken and I have not read other religious or profane texts, I am personally not able to separate Latin from its religious context. Perhaps this has helped me. The life of Jesus Christ and those who have suffered, including my parents’ last moments, deeply affected me, after which the Cross acquired a more profound meaning. Furthermore, my love for Music, Painting and Sculpture has deepened and broadened my understanding.
Both the Requiem and Stabat Mater are written following the classic form of many similar compositions. I felt the need to maintain a certain relationship between the vocal parts and the orchestra so that the latter would never be overwhelming but remain discrete. The vocal counterpoint and the orchestration are deliberately essential in order to give an archaic atmosphere. The colour is deeply dark with some sudden incandescences when the harmony changes to reach luminous effects passing from the minor to the major modes. The vocal parts are often pushed to the limit of their extensions and in the Stabat Mater this effect is increased to reach the maximum expressivity to emphasise the pain of the Mother.
The Requiem Aeternam is in D and the 15 parts of the text are in different tonalities, though the main tonality is repeated twice and the work ends in it. Major and minor tonalities are alternated but not in the traditional way of passing to relative ones. The triad of each tonality is connected by one note in common, making the passage from one part to another softer and smoother. The Stabat Mater, instead, is in E but, being in a single movement, it alternates with E flat. There are no notes in common and this makes the music more abrupt, harsher and more tragic. I have created a medieval aura to certain parts of the Requiem and often the vocal parts follow a restricted range of notes like in lithurgical music which gives a calm and resigned atmosphere. Instead, the range of notes of the Soprano in the Stabat Mater is wider and the music moves in a more brusque way making it seem more tragic. This is what one can say of the difference between other Requiems and mine is more similar to Fauré’s. It reflects my nature more as regards feelings about the end of life.
I used to love singing Hymns and Psalms and playing the organ at Church, but I think it was more because I loved music than out of devotion. My main education was English and not Italian. I went to the International School of Milan and obtained 6 O-levels and 3 A-levels. However, I always wanted to write a Requiem of some kind, which is why I wrote a Funeral March and a Requiescat and plenty of slow works including my Adagio and Simply Largo. My first attempt was to put together three religious Islamic, Catholic and Hebrew texts but it was not very inspiring, so I thought the best thing was to follow the example of other composers and I used Tommaso da Celano’s text as did Mozart and Verdi. The text of the Stabat Mater is by Jacopone da Todi.