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John Powell
1963 -
Great Britain, England
J. Powell
John Powell (18/09/1963) is an English composer, best known for his scores in motion pictures. He has been based in Los Angeles since 1997 and has composed the scores to over fifty feature films. His work on Happy Feet, Ferdinand and Solo: A Star Wars Story has earned him 3 Grammy nominations. He was nominated for an Academy Award for How to Train Your Dragon. Powell was a member of Hans Zimmer's music studio, Remote Control Productions, and has collaborated frequently with other composers from the studio, including Harry Gregson-Williams and Zimmer himself.
A Prussian Requiem: My Reasoning
Period:21st century
Composed in:2018
Musical form:free
Label(s):5 Cats Studios
Powell’s cinematic experience was ever-apparent during A Prussian Requiem. Certainly, the composer found a wealth of instrumental and vocal colours – imaginatively drawing on the large resources offered by the expanded Philharmonia Orchestra which included an array of percussion, and the 100-plus voices of the Philharmonia Chorus – to depict the ‘action’ presented in Michael Petry’s libretto. But, if the score’s pictorial representation was effective, its ‘narrative structure’ was weak; the overall effect was one fragmented illustration rather than musico-dramatic development and coherence. Moreover, Powell’s melodic idiom is quite declamatory, but the vocal lines had little sense of guiding direction. Set the night before the start of the First World War, the Requiem presents the longing for glory of the war-mongering Prussian General, Helmuth von Moltke, whose refusal to accept the peace proposals which were offered to the Kaiser swept the continent into war. Powell suggests that the work could be seen as ‘a requiem to the consequence of one man’s hubris upon the 20th century’. Petry’s libretto places solos in which Moltke veers between confidence and doubt alongside choruses in which the people celebrate the General’s propaganda and nobly accept its terrible consequences. The Kaiser’s arrival leads to a dramatic conflict between the two men; Moltke is ever more deluded, his reason clouded by his fears of lost glory. Petry’s text aims for Auden-esque irony but falls some way short: in ‘My Reasoning’, Moltke rants, ‘The cock and the bulldog would form a vice/ to grind our bones/ to feed the bear. No, there is no f***ing [sic] stopping!’