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Roman Maciejewski
1910 - 1998
Germany | Poland | Sweden
R. Maciejewski
Roman Maciejewski (28/02/1910 - 30/04/1998) was born of Polish parents in Berlin. His musical education, which started at the age of five included studies at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin (with S. Goldenweiser) and at the State Conservatory in Poznań, from which he received his diploma as a concert pianist.
Missa pro defunctis
Composed in:1960
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
In memory of:all the victims of all wars
Label(s):Polskie Nagrania PNCD 039 A&B
WM Poland/WMI
Missa pro defunctis contains:
01. Oratio
02 Introductio
* Introitus
03. Requiem aeternam
04. Psalmus. Te decet hymnus
05. Requiem aeternam
* Kyrie
06. Kyrie eleison
07. Christe eleison
08. Kyrie eleison – Christe eleison
09. Gradual
10. Tractus
* Dies irae
11. Dies irae
12. Quantus tremor
13. Tuba mirum
14. Mors stupebit
15. Liber scriptus
16. Quid sum miser
17. Rex tremendae
18. Recordare
19. Dies irae
20. Ingemisco
21. Inter oves
22. Confutatis
23. Oro supplex
24. Lacrimosa
25. Judicandus
26. Pie Jesu
27. Amen

♫ 03. Requiem aeternam
© Polskie Nagrania PNCD 039 A&B

♫ 12. Quantus tremor
© Polskie Nagrania PNCD 039 A&B

♫ 26. Pie Jesu
© Polskie Nagrania PNCD 039 A&B
Source:booklet of cd Polskie Nagrania PNCD 039 A&B
This (unfinished?) requiem (27 movements) for SATB solo voices, mixed choir and large symphony orchestra, was written between 1944 and 1960. Maciejewski's many compositions include music for ballets, piano works, a concerto and many transcriptions for two pianos, many masses, and Macbeth and Caligula by Camus. The requiem is regarded as the crowning piece in his opus. The work, beginning with a motto of Christ's words uttered from the Cross, "Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they do," is dedicated to "the victims of human ignorance, to the victims of Great Wars, to the victims of tyrants' prisons, to the victims of human lawlessness, the victims of breaking God's natural order." The work calls for very large performing forces and is rarely performed.
t is usually accepted that Roman Maciejewski began writing his Requiem in 1945. The date fits with the concept that the writing of the mass was inspired by the end of the Second World War and that the work was primarily a tribute to the victims of the tragedy (as well as all those who had perished in any other armed conflict). There is another motivation however – the work is also an expression of gratitude from Maciejewski to the Creator for saving him from a deadly illness. This may even have been the original reason, as is suggested by the composer’s remark included in the programme of the American premiere of the work according to which Maciejewski began working on the mass already in 1943. These circumstances seem to be confirmed also by the composer’s letter to his brother Zygmunt in which he wrote:
After the second operation I began my Missa pro defunctis, that is Requiem for the fallen. However, the third operation interrupted composition for a long time. Maciejewski’s statements concerning the choice of mass as his medium make for interesting reading. They usually refer to religion, like, for example, in a letter to the composer’s brother Zygmunt of 9 June 1958:
If I have any talent in music and if God chose to use me in this manner as one of his innumerable tools, then only one thought is important – how to use this talent to bring man closer to man, and man closer to God. This thought inspired me to write the Requiem and sustained me during all those years of working on the piece. On the other hand Maciejewski explained his preferences by referring to formal factors. As he said to Tadeusz Kaczyński:
I decided to do something that would attract people’s attention, if only by virtue of its size. Of course, I could have written a short epitaph, which would have been performed more often, but which would not have generated much interest, would not have been a source of profound experiences and would have gone unnoticed. That is why I decided to write a grand Requiem as a monument to all those who died in all wars. Finally, in a conversation with Maria Woś he admitted that the choice of the mass was not dictated by a strictly religious aspect, but that the inspiration came from the semantics of the text used:
My idea was guided by the words of Christ dying on the cross – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” […] This is how I found my way into the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Because there we hear about death, about the forgiveness of sins. There we hear about eternal light as well as people’s responsibility for individual or collective actions, and there is also a belief in goodness. This suggested to me that regardless of whether I was one of the members of this dogmatic Church or not, I should use the Missa pro defuntis – Mass for the dead. The work on the Requiem took Maciejewski nearly fifteen years, but even its completion he would continue to introduce corrections into his opus vitae.