Please recommend me many requiems: music, books, movies, anything!
September 8, 2018 6:37 AM   Subscribe

What I'm looking for are recommendations for any work of art that evoked in you requiem-like emotions. Sobbing, heaving, moments of celebratory reverence that honour the profundity of death, dying, mourning. Doesn't necessarily need to be "a religious ceremony performed for the dead" just needs to have felt like one for you.

I don't know much about this topic; I'm just chasing a feeling that I had while listening to Mozart's Requiem Mass for the first time. Then Dvorak. Then Faure (Literally only by accident. I was loafing around on Youtube).

Maybe it's a Catholic mass. Or perhaps a b-side track from your favourite punk album. Maybe its a book, or a chapter in a book, or a film, or anything.

If it's classical music, please include which recording you recommend!
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee to Society & Culture (54 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
“Casimir Pulaski Day” Sufjan Stefens
posted by cakelite at 7:08 AM on September 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

For me, "Night Watch" by Terry Pratchett.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 7:14 AM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Mount Eerie album A Crow Looked At Me.
posted by eponym at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

The movie What Dreams May Come
posted by OrangeVelour at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

My go-to classical Requiems (though I don't have a particular favorite recording, sorry) are the Verdi Requiem (for big operatic drama) and the Brahms German Requiem (probably my favorite piece of music in the world, especially the stunning fugues in the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th movements). The Brahms Tragic Overture and 4th Symphony also give me tremendous feelings that life involves grief and unhappy endings and things going wrong, and yet that living and dying are still resoundingly meaningful.
(Sorry to get all purple-prose on you...)
posted by huimangm at 7:19 AM on September 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

The movies Synechdoche, New York and Children of Men both hit me like that. Not sure how well that will transfer to people who aren't living inside my skull.
posted by ook at 7:22 AM on September 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Black Star, Bowie’s final album.
posted by supercres at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 7:37 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
posted by kimdog at 7:38 AM on September 8, 2018

Tennyson's In Memoriam AHH. It's a cycle of poems about the death of a friend, and it touches on so many of the feelings and emotional processes of death.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:40 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Came in to say Synecdoche, New York as well (if you want to cheat, you could just watch the priest's funeral sermon, but obviously you'll miss the emotional buildup leading to that point).
posted by Bron at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hmm, if I'm to be completely honest, the closest I've gotten to that feeling outside of a church service on Good Friday are the climactic chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. YMMV.

Otherwise, the last track of Hadestown.
posted by toastedcheese at 8:28 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The partial lines "cast my memory back there, Lord / sometimes I'm overcome thinkin' bout" from Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison never, ever fail to make me tear up. If I am alone, I will definitely full-out cry.
posted by sockermom at 9:08 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

“When I am Laid in Earth” followed by “With Drooping Wings,” from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. I used to listen to them and sob. I favor the version by Le Concert d'Astrée conducted by Emanuelle Haim.
posted by holborne at 9:25 AM on September 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

Came in to say SYNECHDOCHE, NEW YORK, TREE OF LIFE, as well as add Hector Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique, Fiona Apple's "Not About Love," the end of "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger, Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "The World is a Beautiful Place", and finishing the video game "Night in the Woods."
posted by Gucky at 9:48 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. It will probably sound familiar since it shows up in every other movie and TV show.

The first movement of Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto. The opening bit where it's just harp and clarinet never fails to give me chills. Stop around the 7-minute mark if you'd rather skip the transition to the much faster-paced second movement.

Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden and the musical setting by Benjamin Britten.
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 9:55 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh, one more - the little match girl passion by David Lang (link is to Spotify because I couldn't find a Youtube version that actually had the full thing). Never fails to make me cry.
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 9:59 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another one: the allegretto from Beethoven's 7th symphony. Beautifully performed here by the Berlin Phil.

I love this question. Going to be thinking about it all day.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 10:25 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bach's mass in b minor
posted by 15L06 at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seeing Playtime in 70mm a few years ago.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:33 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Henryk Gorecki - Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, 2nd Movement, very dark

Karl Jenkins - Benedictus

Elgar - Nimrod or this Barenboim Nimrod

For something longer, this Sibelius - Symphony No. 2, Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic has been whittled down by YouTube to the last two movements so it loses a lot of momentum but the last five minutes will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:09 AM on September 8, 2018

In addition to requiems and masses, there's also the stabat mater, which is the lamentation for Mary as she stood there watching the cruxification. My current favorite is Dvorak's Stabat Mater.
posted by dum spiro spero at 11:18 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

The absolute first album that came to mind was A Silver Mt. Zion's "He Has Left Us Alone but Shadows of Light Still Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms..."
posted by ubersturm at 11:27 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Balmorhea - Lament
posted by fizzix at 11:59 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

And the song i want at my funeral apo hapi syte, performed by the Sandy Lopicic Orkestar the singer here is Irina Karamarkovic. The song mourns the death of a spouse.
posted by 15L06 at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2018

Sinead O’Connor, Nothing Compares to You. I have read that the emotion of her singing comes from her associating the song with the loss of her mother.
posted by FencingGal at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Björk song (and music video) Black Lake is a ten minute expression of the emotion following the breakup of her marriage. Something about the simplicity and repetition of the melody is heartwrenching -- I once read someone compare it to the Kol Nidre.

In her own words:
It’s like, when you’re trying to express something and you sort of start, but then nothing comes out. You can maybe utter five words and then you’re just stuck in the pain. And the chords in-between, they sort of represent that. We called them “the freezes,” these moments between the verses. They’re longer than the verses, actually. It’s just that one emotion when you’re stuck. It is hard, but it’s also the only way to escape the pain, just going back and having another go, trying to make another verse.
posted by rollick at 1:06 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

"Old and Wise" Alan Parsons Project.
posted by profreader at 1:34 PM on September 8, 2018

Little known, but luscious: “ I am Resurrection and I am Life." Music by David Charles Walker.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:41 PM on September 8, 2018

Binge-watching the first season of Breaking Bad where Walt and his family are first encountering his cancer diagnosis made me sob relentlessly. It pulled out the first real grieving I had done for my dad who had died of cancer fifteen years earlier.
posted by bendy at 1:43 PM on September 8, 2018

The book When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
posted by MNMCSOJGPFTAATMOTTSOITATTMSFMVOOW at 1:45 PM on September 8, 2018

The Olga poems by Denise Levertov

Night Windows - the Weakerthans
Anthem - Leonard Cohen
Go Wherever You Wanna Go - Patty Griffin
Patti and Robert - Mason Jennings
Enough to Be On Your Way - James Taylor
Deuteronomy 2:10 - the Mountain Goats
Long Ride Home - Patty Griffin

The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
posted by fairlynearlyready at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
posted by protorp at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The movie Coco (just watched it, was not prepared)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:19 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Red Dirt Girl by Emmylou Harris.
posted by Bourbonesque at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

The 12th century poem, "Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch," by Yehuda HaLevi (quoted here) is included in a graveside eulogy in one of the final scenes of the Netflix series Godless. Knocked the wind right out of me.
posted by Corvid at 3:04 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

No Night There / Akukho Ubusuku Le! by I Fagiolini and SDASA Chorale. I can't find it online, link is to the CD description.
posted by paduasoy at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2018

These are perfect. Keep em coming! Thanks so much, everyone.
The first stop on the books and movies list (Vonnegut was the only one I already knew): Synecdoche, New York.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 3:15 PM on September 8, 2018

Dark Elegy.
posted by metasarah at 3:35 PM on September 8, 2018

This is a hard question for me to answer because so much evokes this for me. I see the fragility of life and the beauty of death pretty much everywhere, which probably says more about my mental state than anything else, but at least the musical pieces you have mentioned so far have also resonated with me, so here goes.

Max Richter nails this a lot for me. There's a version of his"On the Nature of Daylight" morphed with Dinah Washington singing "This Bitter Earth" which just gets me every time. It's also pretty good on its own. Also Infra 5.

Also Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, which is very different, but seriously if you have the time to sit in a room and just listen to it, properly listen to it, it is utterly amazing. That particular recording is a live performance with Reich on the piano which is pretty great. However my favourite version is this one which alas is only the first bit - but I know someone who worked on this production and said it was close to a religious experience (they are not religious themselves).

Non-classical, Sia's Breathe Me (for the video, audio on this one is better.) (Which reminds me, I could. not. stop. crying during the end of the TV series Six Feet Under and this was the soundtrack. That show would obviously do it on a regular basis, too, though perhaps not as often as you might think.)

Films are a long list. The Hours. A Single Man. Still Alice. Carrington. Dancer in the Dark. Never Let Me Go. Moon. Arrival (which also features Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight"). Lots more but I might stop there.

Writing - again, how long have you got? But because someone above mentioned Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air I'll just also mention his earlier essays which are for me even more powerful. Summerlong by Peter S Beagle. Beagle (whom most people know for The Last Unicorn) is very good at this too, though he can also be very funny. I strongly recommend his short stories.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:39 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The film Bleu by Krzysztof Kieślowski with music by Zbigniew Preisner fits that feeling for me.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:14 PM on September 8, 2018

If I Could Be Where You Are -- Enya
Fields of Gold -- Eva Cassidy
Dante's Prayer -- Loreena McKennitt
Annan Waters -- Niamh Parsons
The Parting Glass -- UCD Choral Scholars
Kilkelly -- Rowena Taheny

Bang the drum slowly -- Emmylou Harris
You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive -- Patty Loveless
Wayfaring Stranger -- Rhiannon Giddens
posted by TrishaU at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The soundtrack to The English Patient. The movie itself.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:47 AM on September 9, 2018

And The Wailin' Jennys' version of The Parting Glass.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:51 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Big Fish, the Tim Burton film with Ewen Mcgregor and Albert Finney playing Billy Crudup's father and teller of tall tales that the son resents because nothing was ever true. Since my father (also a grand bullshitter) died, I am utterly unable to watch the film, and feel an intense sense of loss just thinking about it. The ending is almost perfect. It combines a terrible sense of mourning with the beginnings of understanding that truth isn't only ever one thing. For me, at least, and several others I know, it ends in ugly tears.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:42 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Schubert's Die Winterreise

Nina Simone's I Loves you Porgy

Durruti Column's Gun and franky a lot of Vini Reilly's music.
posted by vacapinta at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2018

I love Mozart's Requiem as well. You might want to see the film Amadeus if you haven't already, there's a
(warning: spoilers) scene where Mozart is dictating the Confutatis to Salieri which is very cool. The Lacrimosa is played at the end - very powerful. (End spoiler)

More Mozart for you:
-Ave Verum Corpus
-Piano Concerto no. 20 d-, K. 466
-Piano Concerto no. 24 c-, K. 491

Bach: Fugue in f sharp minor, well tempered clavier book one (in 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould, another film I recommend)

-Moonlight Sonata
-Pathetique Sonata

-Funeral March (a good article about it:
-Etudes Op 10 no. 6, Op 10 no. 12 (Revolutionary etude, very famous), Op 25 no. 7, Op 25 no. 12

More funeral marches:

One guy's take on the 10 best requiems:
posted by foxjacket at 7:06 AM on September 9, 2018

The soundtrack to The English Patient. The movie itself.

Inspired by this comment, I'm here to recommend exploring composers' responses to WW2. This is pretty much my sweet spot for classical listening, and I like:

Arman Khatchaturian, Symphony No. 2
Richard Strauss, Metamorphsen
Ralph Vaughn Williams, Symphony No. 6 in E Minor
posted by missmobtown at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've recommended this many times: someone took clips from Wim Wender's Wings of Desire and set it to Jane Siberry's Calling All Angels, and it's amazing.
posted by Bron at 7:49 AM on September 10, 2018

This came to me late last night: James Joyce's short story "The Dead"
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 3:17 PM on September 10, 2018

Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden was incorporated into the funeral eulogy in Four Weddings and A Funeral.

The Parting Glass is a traditional Irish funeral song. (Ed Sheeran performing. #NoGoingHome, yeah?)
"But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I'll gently rise and I'll softly call
Good night and joy be with you all"

"Miserere mei, Deus", Latin for "Have mercy on me, O God", is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of Holy Week... The Tenebrae service where the Miserere would be sung normally began at dusk, hence the name. "Tenebrae" is Latin for "shadows" or "darkness"). During the ritual, candles would be extinguished one by one, save for the last candle which remained alight and was then hidden. Gregorio Allegri envisioned the setting of the Miserere to be the final act within the first lesson of the Tenebrae service... At some point, it became forbidden to transcribe the music and it was allowed to be performed only at those particular services at the Sistine Chapel, thus adding to the mystery surrounding it. Then, a 14-year-old punk named Mozart pirated it by memory after hearing it once. Here is the Kings College Choir, Cambridge, performing it.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:52 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Brahms German Requiem. The recording I have is the one with Elisabethe Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
posted by lagomorph at 9:42 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

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