About the Requiem (Mozart)

Requiem (Mozart)

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Signature.svg

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791)

The Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as the Missa pro defunctis (Latin, "Mass for the deceased") or Missa defunctorum ("Mass of the deceased"), is a liturgical service of the Roman Catholic Church celebrated by the priest presider for the repose of the soul of a particular deceased person or persons. It is frequently, but by no means always, celebrated in the context of a funeral.

The Requiem Mass in D minor K. 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791, during the last year of the composer's life. The Requiem was Mozart's last composition and is one of his most popular and respected works, although the question of how much of the music Mozart managed to complete before his death and how much was later composed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr or others is still debated.

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, alto, tenor, and bass soloists and an SATB mixed choir.
 

The Requiem is divided into fourteen movements, with the following structure:

  • I. Introitus: Requiem aeternam (Choir and Soprano solo)
  • II. Kyrie eleison (Choir)
  • III. Sequentia (text based on sections of the Dies Irae):
    • Dies irae (Choir)
    • Tuba mirum (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass Solo)
    • Rex tremendae majestatis (Choir)
    • Recordare, Jesu pie (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass Solo)
    • Confutatis maledictis (Choir)
    • Lacrimosa dies illa (Choir)
  • IV. Offertorium:
    • Domine Jesu Christe (Choir with Solo Quartet)
    • Versus: Hostias et preces (Choir)
  • V. Sanctus:
    • Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth (Choir)
    • Benedictus (Solo Quartet then Choir)
  • VI. Agnus Dei (Choir)
  • VII. Communio:
    • Lux aeterna (Soprano solo and Choir)

Composition

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.


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