Benjamin Britten’s draft score for the War Requiem is dated at the end ‘Aldeburgh Dec. 20th 1961’. In accordance with Britten’s usual working method, the score is written in pencil and comprises the complete composition in a reduced scoring, together with additional discarded draft material. Britten’s corrections and amendments are visible throughout the manuscript, with some bars cancelled entirely and many passages erased before being rewritten. The music is prefaced by an epigraph drawn from the writings of Wilfred Owen, including the preface to a collection of poetry that he sketched before his death:
My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is [in] the pity.
All a poet can do today is war.
The title page bears a dedication to Roger Burney, Piers Dunkerley, David Gill and Michael Halliday (the original dedication ‘In Commemoration of all the fellow sufferers of the Second World War’ is crossed out). Halliday and Burney, who both died in the Second World War, were friends of Britten and his partner Peter Pears respectively. Dunkerley, a close friend of Britten, had taken part in the 1944 Normandy landings and committed suicide in 1959.