Re: Benjamin Britten & war

Maggie Jaffe (mjaffe@MAIL.SDSU.EDU)
Tue, 9 Sep 1997 08:13:48 -0800

Dear Sixties People & Carl:

I never thought I'd see Benjamin Britten's *War Requiem* quoted anywhere.
Thanks, Carl. I used Britten's music as a back drop to writing my poems
about the soldier-artist, Otto Dix. But *War Requiem* has nothing to do
with the Vietnam War, at least not chronologically. Britten's piece was
commissioned by the Japanese government in 1940 to commemorate the 2,6000
anniversary of the Mikado dynasty. Rejected for religious reasons and
considered an insult to the Emperor, the first performance was in New York
City in 1941. Britten had the impending World War in mind when he wrote
it. Along these lines, I'd recommend *The Violent Muse: Violence and the
Artistic Imagination in Europe, 1910-1939,* ed. Jana Howlett and Rod
Mengham, as well as *Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany,* by Maria
Tatar. Tatar speculates that German writers and artists' fascination with
sexual murders reflected the fragility of the Weimar Republic, but that it
also symbolized the displaced hostility returning soldiers felt toward
women who did not witness the carnage of WW I.