|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart KV1 626|
RequiemRequiem in D minor. 1791. Time: 60'00.
Mozart was working on the Requiem when he died. It was completed by his assistant Sussmayr after his death.
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The Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at the composer's death. A completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem mass to commemorate the February 14 anniversary of his wife's death.
Many myths and controversies surrounded the piece, especially around how much of the piece was completed by Mozart before his death. The autograph manuscript shows the finished and orchestrated introit in Mozart's hand, as well as detailed sketches of the Kyrie and the sequence Dies irae as far as the first nine bars of "Lacrimosa", and the vocal parts of the offertory. It cannot be shown to what extent Süßmeyr may have depended on now lost "scraps of paper" for the remainder; he later claimed the Sanctus and Agnus as his own.
Walsegg probably intended to pass the Requiem off as his own composition, as he is known to have done with other works. This plan was fustrated by a public benefit performance for Mozart's widow Constanze. A modern contribution to the mythology Is Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus, in which the mysterious messenger with the commission is the masked Antonio Salieri who intends to claim authorship for himself.
The Requiem is scored for 2 basset horns in F, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (alto, tenor & bass), timpani (2 drums), violins, viola and basso continuo (cello, double bass, and organ or harpsichord). The vocal forces include soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass soloists and a SATB mixed choir.
At the time of Mozart's death on 5 December 1791, only the opening movement (Requiem aeternam) was completed in all of the orchestral and vocal parts. The following Kyrie (a double fugue) and most of the sequence (from Dies Irae to Confutatis) were complete only in the vocal parts and the continuo (the figured organ bass), though occasionally some of the prominent orchestral parts have been briefly indicated, such as the violin part of the Confutatis and the musical bridges in the Recordare. The last movement of the sequence, the Lacrimosa, breaks off after only eight bars and was unfinished. The following two movements of the Offertorium were again partially done – the Domine Jesu Christe in the vocal parts and continuo (up until the fugue, which contains some indications of the violin part) and the Hostias in the vocal parts only.
Constanze Mozart and the Requiem after Mozart's death
The eccentric count Franz von Walsegg commissioned the Requiem from Mozart anonymously through intermediaries acting on his behalf. The count, an amateur chamber musician who routinely commissioned works by composers and passed them off as his own, wanted a Requiem mass he could claim he composed to memorialize the recent passing of his wife. Mozart received only half of the payment in advance, so upon his death his widow Constanze was keen to have the work completed secretly by someone else, submit it to the count as having been completed by Mozart and collect the final payment. Joseph von Eybler was one of the first composers to be asked to complete the score, and had worked on the movements from the Dies irae up until the Lacrimosa. In addition, a striking similarity between the openings of the Domine Jesu Christe movements in the requiems of the two composers suggests that Eybler at least looked at later sections. Following this work, he felt unable to complete the remainder, and gave the manuscript back to Constanze Mozart.
The task was then given to another composer, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, who had already helped the ailing Mozart in writing the score, since in his final days the composer's limbs had become extremely swollen. Süssmayr borrowed some of Eybler's work in making his completion, and added his own orchestration to the movements from the Dies Irae onward (the Kyrie was orchestrated before either Süssmayr or Eybler began their work), completed the Lacrimosa, and added several new movements which a Requiem would normally comprise: Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. He then added a final section, Lux aeterna by adapting the opening two movements which Mozart had written to the different words which finish the Requiem Mass, which according to both Süssmayr and Mozart's wife was done according to Mozart's directions. Whether or not that is true, some people consider it unlikely that Mozart would have repeated the opening two sections if he had survived to finish the work completely. However, the fact that the work ends with a recapitulation of the first movement creates a work which, overall, displays characteristics of sonata form, which may help to authenticate the idea for the repetition of the first movement as the final movement. As has often been stated, Mozart was not the only composer to do this, and many requiems written before his repeat the first movement as the last. (In regular Masses a similar practice existed where the last movement, the Agnus Dei, was indicated only by the words "ut Kyrie", "as the Kyrie".)
Other composers may have helped Süssmayr. The elder composer Maximilian Stadler is suspected of having completed the orchestration of the Domine Jesu for Süssmayr. The Agnus Dei is suspected by some scholars to have been based on instruction or sketches from Mozart because of its similarity to a section from the Gloria of a previous Mass (Sparrow Mass, K. 220) by Mozart, as was first pointed out by Richard Maunder. Many of the arguments dealing with this matter, though, center on the perception that if part of the work is high quality, it must have been written by Mozart (or from sketches), and if part of the work contains errors and faults, it must have been all Süssmayr's doing. A frequent meta-debate is whether or not this is a fair way to judge the authorship of the parts of the work.
Another controversy is the suggestion that Mozart left explicit instructions for the completion of the Requiem on "little scraps of paper." It is commonly believed this claim was made by Constanze Mozart after it was public knowledge that the Requiem was actually completed by Süssmayr as a way to increase the impression of authenticity.
The completed score, initially by Mozart but largely finished by Süssmayr, was then dispatched to Count Walsegg complete with a counterfeited signature of Mozart and dated 1792. The various complete and incomplete manuscripts eventually turned up in the 19th century, but many of the figures involved did not leave unambiguous statements on record as to how they were involved in the affair. Despite the controversy over how much of the music is actually Mozart's, the commonly performed Süssmayr version has become widely accepted by the public. This acceptance is quite strong, even when alternate completions provide logical and compelling solutions for the work. A completion dating from 1819 by Sigismund Neukomm has recently been recorded under the baton of Jean-Claude Malgoire. Salzburg-born Neukomm, a student of Joseph Haydn, provided a concluding Libera me, Domine for a performance of the Requiem on the feast of St Cecilia in Rio de Janeiro at the behest of Nunes Garcia.
The confusion surrounding the circumstances of the Requiem's composition was created in a large part by Mozart's wife, Constanze. Constanze had a difficult task in front of her. She had to keep secret the fact that the Requiem was unfinished at Mozart's death, so she could collect the final payment from the commission. For a period of time, she also needed to keep secret the fact that Süssmayr had anything to do with the composition of the Requiem at all in order to allow Count Walsegg the impression that Mozart wrote the work entirely himself. Once she received the commission, she needed to carefully promote the work as Mozart's so she could continue to receive revenue from the work's publication and performance. During this phase of the Requiem's history, it was still important that the public accepted that Mozart wrote the whole piece, as it would fetch larger sums from publishers and the public if it were completely by Mozart.
It is Constanze's efforts that created the flurry of half-truths and myths almost instantly after Mozart's death. She contributed to numerous rumors of Mozart’s murder by the Italian composer Antonio Salieri. In 1791, Mozart received a mysterious commission by a stranger to compose a Requiem. Supposedly, the patron of this commission was Franz von Walsegg, who wanted to compose the Requiem in memory of his late wife. Although Mozart accepted the commission, he began to work on an opera, La clemenza di Tito, in Prague. Suddenly, Mozart became extremely ill in Prague and needed medical attention upon his return to Vienna. As soon as Mozart came back to Vienna, he began working on the Requiem. However, he felt extremely depressed, and started to speak of death. According to Constanze, Mozart even declared that he was composing the Requiem for himself, and that he had been poisoned. His symptoms worsened, and he began to complain about the painful swelling of his body and high fever. Nevertheless, Mozart continued his work on the Requiem, and even on the last day of his life, he was explaining to his assistant how he intended to finish the Requiem. Source materials written soon after Mozart’s death contain serious discrepancies which leave a level of subjectivity when assembling the "facts" about Mozart’s composition of the Requiem. For example, at least three of the conflicting sources, both dated within two decades following Mozart’s death, cite Constanze Mozart (Mozart’s wife) as their primary source of interview information. In 1798, Friedrich Rochlitz, the German biographical author and amateur composer, published a set of Mozart anecdotes which he claimed to have collected during his meeting with Constanze in 1796. The Rochlitz publication makes the following statements:
The most highly disputed of these claims is the last one, the chronology of this setting. According to Rochlitz, the messenger arrives quite some time before the departure of Leopold for the coronation, yet we have record of his departure occurring in mid-July 1791. However, Constanze was in Baden during all of June to mid-July, she would not have been present for the commission or the drive they were said to have taken together. Furthermore, The Magic Flute (except for the Overture and March of the Priests) was completed by mid-July. La clemenza di Tito was commissioned by mid-July. There was no time for Mozart to work on the Requiem on the large scale indicated by the Rochlitz publication in the time frame provided.
Also in 1798, Constanze is noted to have given another interview to Franz Xaver Niemetschek, another biographer looking to publish a compendium of Mozart's life. He published his biography in 1808, containing the following claims about Mozart’s receipt of the Requiem commission:
This account, too, has fallen under scrutiny and criticism for its accuracy. According to letters, Constanze most certainly knew the name of the commissioner by the time this interview was released in 1800. Additionally, the Requiem was not given to the messenger until some time after Mozart’s death. This interview contains the only account of the claim that Constanze took the Requiem away from Wolfgang for a significant duration during his composition of it from Constanze herself. Otherwise, the timeline provided in this account is historically probable. However, the most highly accepted text attributed to Constanze is the interview to her second husband, Georg Nikolaus von Nissen. After Nissen’s death in 1826, Constanze released the biography of Wolfgang (1828) that Nissen had compiled, which included this interview. Nissen states:
The Nissen publication lacks information following Mozart’s return from Prague.
In the 1960s a sketch for an Amen fugue was discovered, which some musicologists (Levin, Maunder) believe belongs to the Requiem at the conclusion of the sequence after the Lacrimosa. H. C. Robbins Landon argues that this Amen fugue was not intended for the Requiem, rather that it "may have been for a separate unfinished Mass in D minor" to which the Kyrie K341 also belonged. There is, however, compelling evidence placing the "Amen Fugue" in the Requiem based on current Mozart scholarship. First, the principal subject is the main theme of the requiem (stated at the beginning, and throughout the work) in strict inversion. Second, it is found on the same page as a sketch for the Rex Tremendae (together with a sketch for the overture of his last opera The Magic Flute), and thus surely dates from late 1791. The only place where the word 'Amen' occurs in anything that Mozart wrote in late 1791 is in the sequence of the Requiem. Third, as Levin points out in the foreword to his completion of the Requiem, the addition of the Amen Fugue at the end of the sequence results in an overall design that ends each large section with a fugue.
Since the 1970s several musicologists, dissatisfied with the traditional "Süssmayr" completion, have attempted alternative completions of the Requiem. These include Franz Beyer, Duncan Druce, C. Richard F. Maunder, H. C. Robbins Landon, Robert D. Levin and Simon Andrews. Each version follows a distinct methodology for completion; for example, the Beyer edition makes revisions to Süssmayr's orchestration in an attempt to create a more Mozartian style, whereas Robbins Landon has chosen to orchestrate parts of the completion using the partial work by Eybler, thinking that Eybler's work is a more reliable guide of Mozart's intentions. Maunder's edition dispenses completely with the parts known to be written by Süssmayr, but retains the Agnus Dei after discovering an extensive paraphrase from an earlier Mass (Sparrow Mass, K. 220). Andrews' and Levin's versions retain the structure of Süssmayr while adjusting orchestration, voice leading and in some cases rewriting entire sections in an effort to make the work more Mozartean. For example, in the Levin and Andrews versions, the Sanctus fugue is completely rewritten and reproportioned and the Benedictus is restructured to allow for a reprise of the Sanctus fugue in the key of D (rather than Süssmayr's use of B-flat).
Both Maunder and Levin use the sketch for the Amen fugue discovered in the 1960s to compose a longer and more substantial setting to the words "Amen" at the end of the sequence. In the Süssmayr version, "Amen" is set to the last two chords of the Lacrimosa: the Andrews version uses the Süssmayr ending. Maunder and Levin recompose the ending of the Lacrimosa to lead to an entire movement with "Amen" as the text. Other authors have also attempted the completion.
The Sussmayr completion of the Requiem is divided into fourteen movements, with the following structure:
Mozart esteemed Handel and in 1789 he was commissioned by baron Gottfried van Swieten to rearrange Messiah. This work likely influenced the composition of Mozart's Requiem; the Kyrie is probably based on the And with his stripes we are healed chorus from Handel's Messiah (HWV 56), since the fugato, in which Handel was a master, is the same, with only slight variations by adding ornaments on melismata.
Some believe that the Introitus was inspired by Handel's Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline (HWV 264), and some have also remarked that the Confutatis may have been inspired by Sinfonia Venezia by Pasquale Anfossi.
Myths surrounding the Requiem
The Requiem has a complex history, riddled with deception and manipulation of public opinion. The work was commissioned by Count Franz von Walsegg in July 1791 who wanted to pass off the work as his own, so the circumstances of the commission were kept secret. Upon Mozart's death, Constanze had the work completed by other composers, but to receive final payment, their assistance had to remain a secret. At the same time, Constanze wanted to present the work as having been written by Mozart to completion, so as to receive revenue from the work. When it became known that others besides Mozart had a hand in writing the Requiem, Constanze insisted that Mozart left explicit instructions for the work's completion.
With all of these levels of deceptions and secrets, it is inevitable that many myths would emerge with respect to the circumstances of the work's completion. One series of myths surrounding the Requiem involves the role Antonio Salieri played in the commissioning and completion of the Requiem and in Mozart's death generally. While the most recent retelling of this myth is Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus and the movie made from it, it is important to note that the source of misinformation was actually a 19th century play by Alexander Pushkin, Mozart and Salieri, which was turned into an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov and subsequently used as the framework for Amadeus.
The autograph at the 1958 World's Fair
The autograph of the Requiem was placed on display at the World's Fair in 1958 in Brussels. At some point during the fair, someone was able to gain access to the manuscript, tearing off the bottom right-hand corner of the second to last page (folio 99r/45r), containing the words "Quam olim d: C:" (an instruction that the "Quam olim" fugue of the Domine Jesu was to be repeated "da capo", at the end of the Hostias). As of 2010[update] the perpetrator has not been identified and the fragment has not been recovered.
If the most common authorship theory is true, then "Quam olim d: C:" might very well be the last words Mozart wrote before he died. It is probable that whoever stole the fragment believed that to be the case.
The Austrian author Gerhard Roth wrote a novel (Der Plan, 1998) whose plot is based, at its very beginning, on an alternative history of the stealing of the last words personally written by Mozart. According to Roth's version of this regrettable event, the manuscript was supposedly damaged after its exhibition at a fictional world fair held in Valencia (Spain) by a person working at the Austrian National Library in Vienna, on behalf of a Japanese bibliophile.
Performances of Mozart's Requiem on audio
Scores of Mozart's Requiem
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