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On the night of November 14th 1940, the city of Coventry–in the industrial Midlands of England–was bombed by the German air force. Among the buildings destroyed that night was the medieval Cathedral of St Michael. A new cathedral was built next to the remains of the old one. Its opening in 1962 would be the setting for one of the most powerful statements in all music about man's inhumanity to man: Britten's War Requiem.

"These magnificent poems, full of the hate of destruction, are a kind of commentary on the Mass."

Britten to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau