Posterity has a habit of elevating the obscure and neglecting the famous. Thus it is that Cherubini, hailed by Beethoven as 'the greatest living composer', is today often forgotten; 'If I were to write a Requiem, Cherubini's would be my only model', Beethoven continued and the work was performed at his funeral in 1827. Schumann's opinion was that it was 'without equal in the world'. Berlioz considered that 'the decrescendo in the Agnus Dei surpasses everything that has ever been written of the kind'. Cherubini was anxious to reflect the spirit as well as the meaning of the text and so, to avoid any unwelcome associations with opera, he decided to dispense altogether with soloists. It is a work of remarkable intensity, full of attractive choral and orchestral writing.
The orchestral Marche funèbre is no solemn ceremonial but an anguished, grief-stricken death-march: perhaps the work Beethoven had in mind when he described Cherubini as 'Europe's foremost dramatic composer'.