An impresario possessing equal measures of morbid sensitivity, unassailable taste, and gallows humor, I have over the last 30 years given myself three opportunities to witness my own funeral. At my advancing age in a plague year my, luck may abandon me. Then how could I invite my grieving survivors to the real thing? Recollections of these determinedly downer concerts, secretly reflecting fantasies of my own demise, now return as a distinct balm.
Permit me then, at this interval when time is passing more slowly than usual, to share my choices of the saddest musical stuff, noting that this New Orleans-born Huck Finn-manque ends the celebration of his life with a decidedly upbeat march.
Opening the order of service to page one, one sees that mourners process in as brass and drums intone the march from Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary. The funeral sentences follow with the Purcell’s pungent chromatic solemnity well writ in John Eliot Gardner’s emotionally and historically informed recording HERE.
Then Jessye Norman laments for all time HERE.
Nothing could transcend earthly realms more than Robert Honeysucker’s total embrace of folornity. His immortal spiritual set, from Palm Sunday 2016 in Charlestown pours out to us HERE.
Bach gets the last word in the church, as Claudius Tanski plays the Busoni transcription of Ich ruf zu dir…HERE.
Finally, I charge my survivors to leave the proceedings with broad smiles to the tune of Walton’s Crown Imperial March.
That’s all, folks…or is it? Hope not!