“Dies Irae”

On a “Greatest Hits of the 10th-12th Centuries” compilation disc advertised on late-night TV, this famous chant would be track 1. Of course, most of us know this melody through its many quotations in both the classical canon (I, like most, heard it the first time in Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique) and popular culture (a remixed version of the chant was even featured in a Nike commercial a few years ago). Listening to  the original chant makes it all too clear why composers throughout the ages have found fertile ground here.

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