Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem was composed in 1874 to recognize the death of Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni. Verdi used some of his work from an unperformed collaborative requiem for Rossini. The Requiem was accepted enthusiastically by all of Europe. Between 1874-75, there were 15 authorized performances in Paris, four in Vienna, and three in London, as well as countless unauthorized performances all over the place. Most agreed with Brahms' assessment of the requiem: "Only a genius could have written such a work." However, when Wagner heard it, he is reported to have said simply, "It is better to say nothing."

One of the most recognizable sections of the Requiem is the volcanic "Dies irae", which opens with four symphonic blasts, separated by powerful blows on the bass drum. The chorus and symphony thunder and wail together, raging like a catastrophic storm. The chorus sings:

Dies irae, dies illa
solvet saeclum in favilla
teste David cum Sybilla
Dies irae, dies illa
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando Judex est venturus
cuncta stricte discussurus.

Or, in English:

Day of wrath and doom impending,
David's word with Sibyl's blending
Heaven and earth in ashes ending
Day of wrath and doom impending
Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth
When from heaven the judge descendeth
On whose sentence all dependeth.*

Verdi's Requiem is considered his most condensed work, with few operatic interruptions or delays. Many think of it as his most complicated and most beautiful composition.

* The words to the Dies Irae are traditional and are used in almost all Requiems, no matter who the composer is.

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