This book is both an extraordinarily thorough list of requiems and an enjoyable read. Chase begins with a lengthy, fascinating description of the genre, and the twists and turns it took in development over hundreds of years. Then, in the main section of the book, he offers a summary of about 250 works. These are sectioned by style and include a page or two of background information on the composer and the era. These summaries are imminently readable; accessible to the novice yet informative even to the professional musician. Going well beyond those famous 50 composers who show up in every history book, Chase gives us a window into the lives of many of the lesser known, but solid composers. More importantly, he illuminates how they and their requiems influenced the development of music.
The book concludes with a listing of 1700 more requiem (or about that many, I didn't count them). This listing, plus the appendix and bibliography, provide a wealth of resources for continued learning.
I purchased this book for its reference value, and it delivers. Bonus points go to Chase for his writing. I am tremendously impressed by how enjoyable and engaging this book is.
Since time immemorial, the response of the living to death has been to commemorate the life of the departed through ceremonies and rituals. For nearly two millennia, the Christian quest for eternal peace has been expressed in a poetic-musical structure known as the requiem. Traditional requiem texts, among them the anonymous medieval Latin poem Dies Irae ('Day of Wrath'), have inspired an untold number of composers in different ages and serving different religions, Western and Eastern. This book, the first comprehensive survey of requiem music for nearly half a century, provides a great deal of diverse and detailed information that will be of use to the professional musician, the musical scholar, the choral conductor, the theologian and liturgist, and the general reader. The main body of the guide is a description of some 250 requiems. Each entry includes a concise biography of the composer and a description of the composition. Details of voicing, orchestration, editions, and discography are given. An extensive bibliography includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, prayer books, monographs, and articles. An appendix lists more than 1700 requiems not discussed within the main text.