Classical composers create monuments to 9/11 in music

Here and Now

Story from Here and Now. Listen to audio for full report.

In the weeks and years following September 11th, 2001, classical composers began to respond to the tragedy through their work.

Boston Conservatory composer Jan Swafford began to compose “They That Mourn” just as 9/11 occurred, and completed it the following winter.

In 2002, John Adams wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning piece “On the Transmigration of Souls.” And today, composer Steve Reich releases “WTC 9/11” on iTunes.

Boston Globe classical music critic Jeremy Eichler calls these works “monuments in sound.”

“[T]hese works collectively invite us to consider music’s capacities to respond to catastrophe, and in the process, create portable sites of public memory,” Eichler wrote recently. “Among the arts, music may possess special qualities in this regard.”

Watch John Adams’s “On the Transmigration of Souls” below:


Here and Now” is an essential midday news magazine for those who want the latest news and expanded conversation on today’s hot-button topics.

The World Listener Survey 2024

We’d love to hear your thoughts on The World. Please take our 5-min. survey.