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For Veterans Day, an excerpt from Britten's profound 'War Requiem'

On this Veterans Day, I wanted to share something from Benjamin Britten's profound "War Requiem." The composer interwove the ancient Latin Mass for the Dead with haunting poetry of Wilfred Owen to create a musical memorial to all those killed in all wars. The most affecting passage in the long, emotionally draining work comes at the end, when the tenor and baritone soloists sing a particularly powerful poem that imagines two soldiers from opposite sides of the conflict meeting after death:

"I am the enemy you killed, my friend.

I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned

Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.

I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.

Let us sleep now . . . ."

Here is the finale, starting with that last line, in a moving performance conducted by the late Mstislav Rostropovich in 2004, three years before his own death:

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