A different sort of Requiem

Schumann’s Requiem für Mignon, as its title might suggest, isn’t a setting of the standard liturgical text of the mass for the dead. The words come from Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister and Mignon is the strange young girl whose poem (much set by composers) Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn (Do you know the land where the lemon trees blossom?) embodies for us poor northerners all our longing for the warm south.

She dies towards the end of the novel and a ‘mass’ is held during which four boys – the coffin bearers –  are reconciled with her death by the efforts of the spirits of the dead and the intercession of the baritone soloist.

Here’s the first part:

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