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Benjamin Britten's War Requiem is one of the most powerful statements in music about ‘war and the pity of war’. It was first performed to mark the opening of a new cathedral for the city of Coventry. The previous, medieval cathedral had been destroyed by bombing in 1940. Britten, a lifelong pacifist, took the opportunity presented by this important commission to create a very public expression of his beliefs. In a master stroke, he included texts by the First World War poet Wilfred Owen to provide an ironic commentary on the Latin Requiem Mass.