Mozart : Requiem in D K. 626 (Orchestre national de France / James Gaffigan)

The Requiem in D minor, K. 626, is a requiem mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart(1756–1791). … A completed version dated 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who commissioned the piece for a requiem service to commemorate the anniversary of his wife’s death on 14 February.

Mozart’s Requiem is a choral masterpiece whose genesis is shrouded in mystery – one that makes the piece all the more fascinating and emotionally stirring.

Mozart was not in the best state of mind when he received an anonymous commission to compose a Requiem Mass. His health was deteriorating and he believed he had been cursed to write a requiem as a ‘swansong’ for himself, because he was sure he was about to die.ADVERTISING

It was in early July 1791 that an ‘unknown, gray stranger’ turned up at the composer’s door saying he represented someone who wanted a Requiem from Mozart on the understanding that he not seek to learn the identity of his patron.

Spooked by the commission, Mozart threw himself obsessively into the work. But it was all too much. He was only able to complete the Requiem and Kyrie movements, and managed to sketch the voice parts and bass lines for the Dies irae through  to the Hostias.

Mozart died aged 35 on 5 December 1791, before he could complete the work. Payment had already been received, and Mozart’s widow Constanze feared that if the work was handed over incomplete the patron would want his money back. She asked one Joseph Eybler to finish the score, but other than orchestrating the music following the Kyrie, he passed the task over to Mozart’s pupil Süssmayer, to whom the composer had given detailed instructions about finishing it. Süssmayer copied the entire completed score in his own hand – making it virtually impossible to determine who wrote what – and gave it to the stranger.

So was the ‘mysterious stranger’ Mozart’s rival Antonio Salieri, much slandered villain of the film Amadeus? Almost certainly not. It was Anton Leitgeb, son of the mayor of Vienna and the valet of Count Franz von Walsegg-Stuppach, who already had acquired the reputation of palming other people’s music off as his own. The Count was hoping to use Mozart’s Requiem to commemorate his late wife, Anna. It took a full decade before Constanze was able to persuade Walsegg to acknowledge Mozart as the Requiem’s true composer.

Regardless of who wrote which parts of the Requiem it still sounds wonderful to most of us. And let me give Beethoven the final word on the matter: ‘If Mozart did not write the music, then the man who wrote it was a Mozart.’

Mozart and Salieri write ‘Requiem in D Minor’ (Full HD) – Amadeus (1984)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (/ˈwʊlfɡæŋ æməˈdeɪəs ˈmoʊtsɑːrt/ MOHT-sart;[1] German: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ amaˈdeːʊs ˈmoːtsaʁt]; 27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart,[2] was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

Born in Salzburg, he showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death.

The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

Amadeus Mozart Documentary

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote: “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”.

Requiem mass, musical setting of the Mass for the Dead (missa pro defunctis), named for the beginning of the Latin of the Introit “Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine” (“Give them eternal rest, O Lord”). The polyphonic composition for the requiem mass differs from the normal mass in that it not only includes certain items of the Ordinary—e.g., Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei (the joyful portions, Gloria and Credo, are omitted)—but also contains the Introit and Gradual from the Proper. A tract, followed by the sequence “Dies irae” (“Day of Wrath”), is substituted for the Alleluia and often is a major dramatic element in the composition. Sometimes responses and other text are added from the burial service, which follows the mass. Outstanding treatments of the requiem are those of W.A. Mozart, Hector BerliozLuigi CherubiniAntonín DvořákGiuseppe VerdiAnton BrucknerGabriel Fauré, and Maurice Durufle. Notable works not following the standard mass text are Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, based both on Latin prayers and on war poems by Wilfred Owen, and the Ein deutsches Requiem (German Requiem) of Johannes Brahms, based on scriptural passages.

Edited by: EZorrilla.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica


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