Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Story behind Mozart's Requiem

The mysteries that surround Mozart's final opus are strange to read about. It was a weird commission from an intermediary from the court of Count Von Walsegg. This composition was to be passed off as written by the Count himself and Mozart was supposed to fill in as a ghost writer. It was to commemorate the death of the Count's wife. It is well known that Mozart died after completing almost two-thirds of the music for the Requiem.He was only thirty five years of age. He died after writing just eight bars of the famous `Lacrymosa'. These were the last words that he put to music. Whatever the case may be, Mozart died writing what eventually turned out to be a requiem for himself. In the film `Amadeus', Peter Shaffer, the playwright for the film for Milos Forman, added a little fictional colour by shaping the commission to come from Antonio Salieri who is wearing a black mask. Salieri wants the credit for the requiem and in the bargain plots to kill Mozart. These are stories and conspiracy theories and Mozart's requiem cannot be taken for granted; it is better to hear the piece at its face value and grasp what Mozart is trying to accomplish in this work. Many people feel that he did not complete the requiem but he fact remains that the work was completed in the early hours of 5th December, 1791. Undoubtedly, there is influence of Haendel and Johann Sebastian Bach in this work. Not many people are aware that Mozart had re-orchestrated the entire Messiah oratorio of Haendel. The dotted rhythms in the requiem's first movement played by the strings, the initial fugue theme of Kyrie and Introitus have a deep influence of Messiah. There is a generous use of counterpoint that brings out about a feeling of archaism in the Requiem from its initial bars. Mozart added colour by adding basset horns, trombones and an organ continuo section. No one canm deny that there is plenty of heartbreaking music to be found in this master work. The Dies Irae does bring out its brimstone and fire and the Rex Tremendae brings out the awe and terror of the Book of Revelations in the choral writing. There is plenty of beautiful writing in the Recordare. This is pehaps the only part of the requiem that gives a glimpse of a world that is not besotted with lament or distress. The Requiem apart, Mozart was buried in the Sankt Marx Cemetery on 6th December 1791. It has been romanticised that Mozart was buried in a linen bag and not in a coffin. It is not possible as such burials were not permitted in the city of Vienna. As per popular belief, Mozart was also not buried in a mass grave but in Allgemeines Grab or a common grave. Yes, it could be admitted that the exact spot where Mozart was buried is questionable. The Mozart Memorial does ot actually mark the place of his mortal remains but the fact remains that he is buried somewhere in St. Marx's cemetery. Does it matter? His soul and his spirit will always breathe through the awesome music he left behind.

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