dies irae

dies irae

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - ( The Story of the Mozart's Requiem )

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The Story of the Mozart's Requiem ---------------------------------------------- In the early summer of 1791 a “gray messenger” appeared at the Mozart apartment in Vienna with an unsigned letter (Robbins Landon, 1988 & Wolff, 1994). The author of the letter stated that a requiem mass was to be composed for a man who would remain anonymous, but who would like a loved one to be remembered. The letter asked Mozart to respond and state a desired sum in writing; the messenger would respond shortly. After discussing the matter with his wife Constanze (as Mozart was known for doing) he decided to accept the offer. The messenger returned with the amount Mozart requested, a sum of around 30 ducats, and promised more money when the requiem was completed (as Mozart asked for such a small amount) (Robbins Landon, 1988 & Selby, 1996). The commissioner did not request any specific form the mass should take, and this became Mozart’s decision while composing (Wolff, 1994). He chose the traditional form with the Dies Irae as the Sequence. The writing of the Requiem was interrupted when Mozart traveled to Prague after the birth of his second son Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (Gärtner, 1986). In Prague he performed his latest Opera La Clemenza di Tito (written for the coronation of Emperor Leopold II) (Selby, 1996). After returning in late September, Mozart continued writing. He had laid out ideas in a form called “particella” which are his brief sketches of music (refered to by Constanze as “little scraps of paper”) (Selby, 1996 & Gärtner, 1986). In late September Mozart’s famous opera Die Zaubeflöte was completed and a success. Its completion gave Mozart the opportunity to work solely on the Requiem. Mozart worked night and day, focusing all of his energy on the Requiem. As the composing continued, Mozart grew more and more emotionally attached to the piece. Soon he became delusional and started to believe that he was writing this death mass for himself (Selby, 1996). In 1829, Constanze recalled her husband’s words. “[Mozart said] ‘I know I must die,’ he exclaimed six months before he actually did. ‘Someone has given me accqua toffana [poison] and has calculated the precise time of my death, for which they have ordered a Requiem, it is for myself I am writing this.” (Robertson, 1976). On January 7, 1792 the Salzburger Intelligenzblatt first mentioned the requiem and Mozart’s mental state: “Now Mozart had to write, which he did, often with tears in his eyes, always saying ‘I am writing a Requiem for myself.’” (Wolff, 1994 p.123). Other accounts based on Constanze’s statements from Schilchlegroll’s biography in 1793 state that “the requiem was getting on his over-sensitive nerves” (Wolff, 1994, p.124). On November 20, Mozart was forced to retire to his bed following the early symptoms of his fatal illness (Gärtner, 1986). Though he dwindled physically, Mozart’s work ethic did not; there was still an incomplete requiem to be finished. Mozart worked on the piece until his final hours. At 2pm on December 4 surrounded by Constanze, her sister, and two friends (singers from his opera), Mozart sang the alto parts of the requiem with his friends and family singing the other voice parts (Gärtner, 1986). They sang through to the Lacrymosa, where Mozart had stopped composing. According to Robertson (1976), “The last thing [Mozart] did was to imitate the kettledrums in his Requiem.” Due to illness, Mozart’s body had become completely swollen. After the doctor performed a regular bleeding in hopes of lessening the swelling, he provided a cold compress for Mozart (Robertson, 1976). Shortly after, Mozart lost consciousness and died at one in the morning December 5, 1791 at the young age of 35 (Gärtner, 1986). Mozart was buried at St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna and placed in an unmarked grave. Music by Mozart - Lacrimo...