Verdi’s Requiem

Sorry, Giuseppe, the music was great, but what I most remember about the first time I heard this piece was the way the bass drum player made up for his lack of stature by sheer enthusiasm. His drumstick arm had a backswing like a golfer’s. Pity the poor drum.

It’s Verdi, his Requiem, they’re playing today:
Four soloists, a choir, and a band.
The lights have gone down and they’ve started to play,
But there’s something I don’t understand:

At the back of the band, by a whopping great drum,
Sits a little guy, counting his way
Through the Kyrie’s bars with his fingers and thumb.
I wonder when he’ll start to play?

Now the Kyrie’s over. He’s mopping his brow.
He pulls back his jacket’s right sleeve
And picks up a drumstick. He’s standing up now . . .
If I were that drum, I would leave . . .

Dies Irae has started – it’s loud and it’s fast,
And he’s winding his arm round his neck.
Now he lets it go – wham! – with a thunderous blast
That leaves him a gibbering wreck;

Yet again and again he creates such a din,
As the music commands him to do.
He’s worth every penny I paid to get in!
I like Verdi’s Requiem, don’t you?

[Photo showing a ‘Verdi drum’ with a full-size player and assistant: Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society]
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