A threnody is a song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word θρηνῳδία (threnoidia), from θρῆνος (threnos, "wailing") and ᾠδή (oide, "ode"), the latter ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂weyd- ("to sing") that's additionally the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy", "parody", "melody" and "rhapsody".
Synonyms include "dirge", "coronach", "lament" and "elegy". The Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. John Dryden commemorated the death of Charles II of England in the long poem Threnodia Augustalis, and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a "Threnody" in memory of his son.
Examples of threnody
- Jan Kochanowski's "Laments (Kochanowski)"
- Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima
- Thomas J. Bergersen's "Threnody for Europe"
- Peter H. Gilmore's "Threnody for Humanity"
- A. E. Housman's "To an Athlete Dying Young"
- Two "Thrénodies" from Franz Liszt's piano series Années de pèlerinage, set at the Villa d'Este
- Marian McPartland's "Threnody", written in memory of pianist Mary Lou Williams
- Bright Sheng's Nanjing! Nanjing!
- Lou Harrison's Threnody for Carlos Chavez
- Benjamin Britten's "Threnody for Albert Herring"
- André Jolivet's "Chant de Linos" for flute and piano or flute, string trio and harp; described by the composer as "...a form of threnody: a funeral lamentation interrupted by cries and dances..." (1944, premiered 6/1/1945)
- Janis Crystal Lipzin's 2003-5 film Threnody
- Yusef Komunyakaa's "Sunset Threnody" in Dien Cai Dau (1988)
- Bruce Dawe's poem "Homecoming"
- "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John
- "Threnody To Earth" by Dream Koala
Some classic jazz threnodies are:
- "I Remember Clifford", written by Benny Golson to honour the memory of Clifford Brown;
- "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", written by Charles Mingus in memory of Lester Young;
- "Memories of Lee Morgan", composed by Pharoah Sanders in memory of Lee Morgan. Morgan had played on Dizzy Gillespie's recording of I Remember Clifford
- Moondog's "Bird's Lament", dedicated to Charlie Parker.
- Blackstar, written by David Bowie