A Walt Whitman Requiem


A Walt Whitman Requiem


for soprano solo, mixed chorus, and piano (or strings) (1984 / 1999 / 2017)

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  • Premiere: 10 May 1993 / The Loomis Chaffee School Auditorium, Windsor, Connecticut / The Loomis Chaffee School Chorus & Orchestra / Mark Jon Gottschalk
  • Instrumentation: soprano, mixed chorus, piano (or string orchestra)
  • Duration: 25'
  • Text: Walt Whitman (E), Requiem Mass (L) 
The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee School

  1. Requiem Aeternam
  2. Dies Irae
  3. Trope: the Diary
  4. Sanctus
  5. Libera Me

Program Note

Two facts stand out about Hagen's Walt Whitman Requiem. It was, first of all, his first work fulfilled as a result of a commission. Composed during the summer of 1984 and completed on 19 May 1984 at Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York, the piece was commissioned by the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut and first performed by the Loomis Chaffee School Chorus and Orchestra on 10 May 1993 conducted by Mark Jon Gottschalk.

The requiem also happens to have had the longest gestational period of any of Hagen's compositions -- thirty-three years. Hagen asked Robert Schuneman, the publisher of the work (EC Schirmer, in Boston) to withdraw the work until he had a chance to revise it. In 1999, Michael Haithcock and a consortium of college bands commissioned a revised version, enabling Hagen to revisit the piece. At this point the "Trope: the Diary" was added, and the entire work reorchestrated. The resulting work (which was completed in New York City) was never performed, and Hagen again withdrew the piece until approached by Mark Lawson, who had acquired EC Schirmer and folded it into Morningstar Music, and asked to revisit it once more. After 33 years, Hagen returned to the piece, revising it for piano, mixed chorus, and soloist during summer 2017 in Rhinebeck, New York. He also executed an alternate orchestration for string orchestra at the same time. The final version was new-issued by EC Schirmer in September 2017.

— Neil Erickson, 2017

(Banner photo: Walt Whitman)