Composers in Death Comes for the Archbishop

Among the composers mentioned in Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop are Giuseppe Verdi, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Stephen Foster. Here are a few works of theirs to enjoy; your library may have other works by these composers.

Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco

Details from the original Youtube page for the above video:

Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, English Nebuchadnezzar) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on the Biblical story and the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue. It is Verdi’s third opera and the one which is considered to have permanently established his reputation as a composer.

Nabucco follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered, and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco (in English, Nebuchadnezzar). The historical events are used as background for a romantic and political plot.

Its first performance took place on 9 March 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan under the original name of Nabucodonosor.

 Conductor:Oliver Dohnanyi
Orchestra: Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra


J.S. Bach: Easter Oratorio, BWV 249

Johann Sebastian Bach: Easter Oratorio, BWV 249

Hannah Morrison, soprano; Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Mulroy, tenor; Peter Harvey, bass; Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists; John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

Live recording, London, Proms 2013


  • 1. Sinfonia
  • 2. Adagio
  • 3. Aria. Kommt, eilet und laufet
  • 4. Recitativo. O kalter Männer Sinn
  • 5. Aria. Seele, deine Spezereien
  • 6. Recitativo. Hier ist die Gruft
  • 7. Aria. Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer
  • 8. Recitativo. Indessen seufzen wir
  • 9. Aria. Saget, saget mir geschwinde
  • 10. Recitativo. Wir sind erfreut
  • 11. Chorus. Preis und Dank

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)

Village Bells Polka
Holiday Schottisch
Soirée Polka

Noel Lester, piano



If you found this presentation of composers mentioned in Death Comes for the Archbishop to be helpful in visualizing world and influences that shaped Cather’s work, you may enjoy some of our other Literature and Composition (E2) videos.


When in Excellence in Literature will you read the book that mentions these composers?

E2.6 Focus text: Death Comes for the Archbishop


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