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Classical Sprouts: The Dies Irae And Where To Find It

Classical Sprouts Dies Irae
Etching by Lavalée after J. Gamelin, 1778. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark

The Dies Irae is a foreboding melody that the Roman Catholic Church used more than 800 years ago, but modern composers still use it to signal darkness, danger and doom.

Listen to the full episode for a musical tour of a few of the Dies Irae's cameos through history.

"Dies Irae" means "day of wrath" in Latin, and the lyrics describe a priest praying for the dead.

The Roman Catholic Church originally used the melody for funerals, so it was easily recognizable at the time.

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It's still recognizable, in part because so many composers, like Hector Berlioz, Lili Boulanger and even film composer Danny Elfman quoted it in their works.

Can you and your family spot the Dies Irae in the pieces on this episode's Spotify playlist?

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson. Kacie Brown is the digital content manager.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson produces the Classical Sprouts podcast.