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Requiem (KV626) by W. A. Mozart (1756-91).

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Introduction

Requiem (KV626) by W. A. Mozart (1756-91) Robert Levin Completion When Mozart died in the early morning hours of December 5, 1791, he left his final masterpiece, the Requiem, unfinished. Less than three months later, a completed score of the Requiem was delivered to its anonymous commissioner. How was the Requiem completed and how would Mozart have completed it had he lived? These mysteries have tantalized musicians for over two centuries. Mozart received the commission to compose the Requiem from a mysterious 'Gray Messenger' in the summer of 1791. The Messenger paid half the commission in advance, but insisted on guarding his patron's anonymity. Already committed to compose an opera for the Bohemian Court, Mozart left for Prague and didn't begin work on the Requiem until his return in September. Before long he became convinced that the Messenger had come to warn him of his own mortality and that he was indeed composing the work for his own death. ...read more.

Middle

Not content with collecting the commission, Constanze had two copies of the Requiem made for her own use. One she sold to King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. The other she later sold to publishers Breitkopf & H�rtel of Leipzig in 1799. Learning of the pending publication, the anonymous patron finally revealed himself. Franz Count von Walsegg confessed that he had commissioned the work in honor of his late wife Anna, and had passed it off as his own composition at her memorial service. No longer able to claim authorship of the Requiem, he at least wanted a refund of his investment. He eventually compromised by accepting several pieces of music in compensation. Those conversations with the publisher sparked a great controversy surrounding the Requiem. S�ssmayr, who had kept his silence for eight years, wrote the publishers stating that the Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei were entirely his own composition. Abb� Maximilian Stadler, one of Mozart's close associates, carefully marked Count Walsegg's score to indicate which handwriting was Mozart's and which was S�ssmayr's. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was the final clue Harvard musicologist Robert Levin needed to create his own solution to the mystery of Mozart's unfinished Requiem. A noted Mozart scholar, Levin had completed many Mozart fragments and specialized in historically informed performances of Mozart piano works. A lifetime of study allowed him to "get into Mozart's mind." He recognized in Mozart's original score a structure, first suggested by fellow musicologist Christoph Wolff, of five major sections, each ending in a fugue. By completing the "Amen" fugue found in the Berlin sketch and revising S�ssmayr's amateurish "Hosanna" fugue, Levin restored Mozart's original structure. Recognizing recurrences of Mozart's original Requiem theme hidden in the movements attributed entirely to S�ssmayr, Levin deduced that S�ssmayr either had sketches, now lost, or oral instructions from Mozart guiding their composition. By retaining what he recognized as Mozart's themes while revising S�ssmayr's compositional errors, Levin created a new and compelling completion of the Requiem. The mystery of Mozart's Requiem can never truly be laid to rest. With this inspired and historically accurate completion, Dr. Levin has offered one possible solution to the puzzle posed by Mozart over two centuries ago. Notes by - Yvonne Grover ...read more.

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