Article Review - Mozart's Requiem: a Revaluation of the Evidence

Kyle Vanderburg Music in the Classical Period October23, 2010 ARTICLE SUMMARY Paul Moseley, "Mozart·s Requiem: A Revalution

of the Evidence" in Journal of the Royal Music Society114, No.2 (1989): 203-237. Paul Moseley explores the history of the evidence surrounding the Mozart Requiem, from commission to completion. He starts out by outlining the details of the commission from Count Walsegg, who commissioned the Requiem from Mozart in memory of his wife, and it is largely assumed that Walsegg planned to pass Mozart·s work off as his own. The commission was requested in mid-July 1791 by an anonymous messenger. While these facts are generally agreed upon, what is not clear is exactly how much music and what was left unfinished at Mozart·s death. The commission came before Mozart·s departure for Prague, at a time when he would have been required to spend a great deal of his time working on finishing La clemenza di Tito. His time in Prague would have likely been spent in preparing for the first performance, and the time immediately after Prague he would have been working on finishing and rehearsing Die Zauberflote and finishing the clarinet concerto. After these works, Mozart would have most likely started the Requiem. By analyzing the watermarks and paper types, it is possible to see that certain aspects of the Requiem, such as the Kyrie, were likely completed prior or during the composer·s visit to Prague. By analyzing the paper types, punch-holes, and handwriting, it is possible to assemble a type of chronology of the work of the Requiem. By far, the most debated and uncertain topic regarding the Requiem is how much of it Mozart actually wrote. By analyzing the handwritten fragments and Mozart·s other sketches, it is possible to obtain at least a partial understanding of what work the composer actually completed. Other composers who had a hand at completing the Requiem are Joseph von Eybler and Franz Xaver Süssmayr, the latter who is usually credited with writing the Sanctus and Agnus. As it is impossible to know whether Süssmayr had access to any extra drafts of the Requiem or received any specific instructions from Mozart regarding it, it is also impossible to know how much of the Requiem is Mozart·s and how much is Süssmayr·s imitation. The life of the Requiem from 1794 until 1799 was quite quiet, as it was not yet suggested that Mozart himself had not completed the work. This was a prosperous time for the music of Mozart, and Constanze Mozart actively advertised the Requiem as ´Mozart·s last, and completed, work.µ Moseley traces the steps Constanze took regarding publication in the late 1790s and follows this with the controversy that emerged in the 1820s.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful