Music: Cantata Without Conclusions

Why cannot . . . the wheat be divided?

And the soldiers sent home? . . .

And the enemies forgiven?

It was the first performance of The War God, a cantata for orchestra and choir. Although they found it next to impossible to understand the words—from a poem by Briton Stephen Spender—most of the listeners in Manhattan's CBS studio were genuinely moved by the rich orchestration. After the performance, the cantata's composer, gaunt, chestnut-haired Richard Arnell, tall (6 ft.), 27-year-old Briton in a grey flannel suit, coolly explained: "It goes beyond simple pacifism by only presenting the facts and offering no moral conclusions."


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