Dies Irae

Day of Wrath
Composed by Z. Randall Stroope
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: piano
Catalog number: AMP 1090
Price: $2.50

About the text…
“Dies Irae” is a Latin poem on the subject of the Last Judgment. Attributed to a Franciscan monk named Tomaso de Celante (1190 - c. 1255), the complete poem contains 18 rhymed stanzas. (An unknown author later added the “Pie Jesu” couplet and the “Amen.”) Little did this Franciscan know that his colorful poem would provide a springboard for some of the most dramatic musical works ever written. The portion of the complete poem is given below.

Dies irae, dies illa
[dee-ehs ee-reh, dee-ehs ee-lah]
Day of wrath, day that will
    Quando iudex est venturus
    [kwahn-daw yoo-dex ehst vehn-too-roos]
    When the judge comes
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
[sohl-veht seh-kloom een fah-vee-lah]
Dissolve the world into burning coals,
    Cuncta stricte discussurus!
    [koongk-tah stree-kteh dee-skoo-soo-roos]
    To strictly sentence all
Teste David cum sibylla.
[teh-steh dah-veed koom see-bee-lah]
As David prophesied with the Sibyl.*
    Pie Jesu Domine,
    [pee-eh yeh-soo daw-mee-neh]
    Merciful Lord Jesus
Quantus tremor est futurus,
[kwahn-toos treh-mawr ehst foo-too-roos]
How great trembling there will be,
    dona eis requiem.
    [daw-nah eh-ees reh-kwee-ehm]
    Grant them rest.

     * “Sibyl” or “Sybilla” was a title given to the priestess of the Oracle.
     She sat on the Sybilline Rock, breathing vapors, eating laurel leaves,
     and making predictions.

Diction note: Flip all of the “r”s [r]; the vowel “o” is a pronunciational cross between “oh” [o] and “aw” [a];; and take care to keep the “e” [E] vowel consistent throughout the text. (Avoid mixing occasional [e] and [E] vowels.)

About the music…
This setting of Dies Irae isolates a portion of the “Dies Irae” text, and juxtaposes driving, accentuated rhythms with towers of full sonorities. The piano writing provides an agitating “undercurrent” in the opening and closing sections.

“Dies Irae” is also available for SSA with piano (AMP 0575) and TBB with piano (AMP 0616). However, these transcriptions are not compatible in terms of combined performance. Each “version” is unique and tailor-made to fit the sonorities of that medium.

                                                                          Z. Randall Stroope

About the composer…

Z. Randall Stroope is an American composer, conductor and university professor. His composition teachers were Normand Lockwood and Cecil Effinger, both students of Nadia Boulanger, the famous French teacher (and student of Gabriel Fauré.) He is the artistic director of international summer music festivals in Rome and Barcelona, as well annually conducting at Carnegie Hall (New York), Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Chicago's Orchestra Hall, and other U.S. and international venues. He has 135 published musical works and has received numerous composition awards. Recordings of his music can be heard on his web site Z. Randall Stroope, publisher websites, or definitive recordings he has made of his works for youtube (Z. Randall Stroope, conductor and composer).

Click here to see a sample.

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