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WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)

Completed by Franz Xaver Süßmayr (1766-1803)

Requiem in D minor, K. 626 (1791)

I. Introitus: Requiem aeternam 

II. Kyrie

III. Sequenz

1. Dies irae, 2. Tuba mirum, 3. Rex tremendae,  4. Recordare, 5. Confutatis, 6. Lacrimosa

IV. Offertorium

1. Domine Jesu, 2. Hostias

V. Sanctus

VI. Benedictus

VII. Agnus Dei

VIII. Communio: Lux aeterna

Messenger: I have come to commission work from you.

Mozart: What work?

Messenger: A Mass for the dead.

Mozart: The dead. Who is dead?

- Amadeus (1984)

The menacing masked messenger that orders a requiem from a disheveled Mozart (Tom Hulce) is an forbidding scene in Milos Forman's 1984 film Amadeus. Though its dramatization of Mozart's death perpetuates many fictions (a murder plot, nor any meeting with rival Salieri dictating the Requiem from a poisoned Mozart), it captures the mystery and intrigue surrounding the 35-year old's demise in the wake of his unfinished Requiem in D minor. If Mozart could reply to the question of his cinematic counterpart, his own words are eerily prophetic: "I fear that I am writing a requiem for myself." 

 

The latter half of Mozart's final year, 1791, was an intense schedule that lacked any semblance of eternal rest. His financial circumstances dictated the taking of commissions with very little time to compose them. Nevertheless, amid conducting engagements, duties at St. Stephen's Cathedral, opera premieres, rewrites, traveling, financial uncertainties, and ill-health, he managed to complete two operas and a concerto.

 

Contrary to the film's depiction of a masked Salieri ordering music to pass off as his own, the Requiem was commissioned in the summer by Count Franz von Walsegg, the basis for F. Murray Abraham's screen Salieri. Walsegg was known to commission works from seasoned composers, then take credit for writing them in private performances. It was commissioned in memory of his young wife Anna, 21-years old, who died on February 14, 1791. Walsegg, 28-years old, wishing to remain anonymous, used a messenger to approach Mozart. The composer accepted the commission for 225 florins, about $4500 today, a sizable sum (for the time) but nearly half of what he normally received for an opera. After receiving the completed work, Walsegg recopied the score in his hand and retitled it "Requiem composta del Conte Walsegg" (Requiem composed by Count Walsegg), and conducted it on December 14, 1793, at a Mass celebrating his wife's memory.


Serious work on the Requiem would be delayed until September, although his commitments demanded attention elsewhere. Mozart was quick to complete La clemenza di Tito, K.621 (The Clemency of Titus) in August for a September premiere; Die Zauberflöte, K.620 (The Magic Flute) premiered later in the month. Work on the Clarinet Concerto in A-major, K.622, followed for a premiere in October. November was devoted to completing Kleine Freimaurer-Kantate, K. 623 (Little Masonic Cantata). After conducting the cantata's premiere on November 18, Mozart fell ill and died two weeks later on December 5.


The Requiem, a Catholic Mass of Eucharistic celebration offered for the repose of souls, has inspired many composers to take the liturgical service for the deceased into the concert realm. Requiems as a genre are substantial musical compositions. Mozart parted the waking world leaving much of the Requiem unfinished in written form, and so the task to construct a complete work was Biblical. It's a point of contention about how much of the music is written by Mozart. The opening Introitus, a majority of the Kyrie, and fragments of others are represented in the manuscripts. The Lacrimosa, in draft form, remained unfinished. The final sections of the Requiem are not represented in any surviving manuscripts. 

 

Mozart's wife Constanze recruited several of her husband's students to complete the score. 25-year old Franz Xaver Süßmayr fleshed out most of the work, taking over from Joseph Eybler. Süßmayr decided, purportedly by Mozart's instruction, to reuse the Introitus for the concluding Communio with the appropriate text switched in, giving Mozart the first and last word. 


Süßmayr has earned both praise and criticism for his efforts. He claimed to have completed the SanctusBenedictus, and Agnus Dei (which do not exist in the manuscripts), writing in a letter, "wholly composed by me." However, this claim is not without challenge, both by the quality of Süßmayr's original compositions and when Mozart's sketch for a Amen fugal conclusion to the Lacrimosa surfaced in 1960; positing Süßmayr may have had access to additional materials. Other questionable actions included the forging of Mozart's autograph, dating the score to 1792, and recopying the score to eliminate traces of any collaborative effort. 


Other composers, conductors, publishers, and editors have revised the orchestration or completely changed Süßmayr's contributions to construct the work more faithfully to Mozart's intentions. Yet, the Süßmayr completion has remained the most popular and most performed, used in memorial celebrations for a litany of musicians and state figures, including Haydn, Beethoven, and Napoleon. The Requiem runs about 52-minutes and calls for two basset horns (often played by clarinets), two bassoons, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, strings, organ, mixed chorus (SATB), solo soprano, solo alto, solo tenor, and solo bass.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria, and died on December 5, 1791, in Innere Stadt, Vienna, Austria.

© Notes by Michael-Thomas Foumai

I. INTROITUS: Requiem aeternam

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: 

et lux perpetua luceat eis. 

Te decet hymnus Deus in Sion, 

et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem: 

Exaudi orationem meam 

ad te omnis caro veniet. 

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: 

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

________

Grant them eternal rest, Lord, 

and let perpetual light shine upon them. 

A hymn is due to Thee, God in Zion, 

and to Thee a vow shall be paid in Jerusalem: 

Hear my prayer, 

to Thee all flesh shall come. 

Grant them eternal rest, Lord, 

and let perpetual light shine upon them.

II. KYRIE

Kyrie eleison.

Christe eleison.

Kyrie eleison.

________

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

III. SEQUENZ: (1) Dies irae

Dies irae, dies illa, 

solvet saeclum in favilla: 

teste David cum Sibylla.

 

Quantus tremor est futurus, 

quando judex est venturus, 

cuncta stricte discussurus!

________

The day of wrath, that day,
will dissolve the world in ashes,
as David prophesied with the Sibyl. 

 

How great a terror there will be 

when the Judge comes
to examine all things with rigor! 

(2) Tuba mirum

Tuba mirum spargens sonum 

per sepulchra regionum, 

coget omnes ante thronum. 

 

Mors stupebit et natura, 

cum resurget creatura,

judicanti responsura. 

 

Liber scriptus proferetur, 

in quo totum continetur, 

unde mundus judicetur. 

 

Judex ergo cum sedebit, 

quidquid latet apparebit: 

nil inultum remanebit. 

 

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? 

Quem patronum rogaturus? 

Cum vix justus sit securus. 

________

The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound 

through the tombs of every land,
will gather all before the throne. 

 

Death and nature will stand amazed 

when creation rises again
to answer to the Judge. 

 

A written book will be brought forth 

in which all will be contained,
from which the world will be judged. 

 

Thus when the Judge takes His seat 

whatever is hidden will be revealed; 

Nothing will remain unavenged. 

 

What shall I say then in my misery?
Whom shall I seek as protector,
when a righteous man would scarcely be safe? 

(3) Rex tremendae

Rex tremendae majestatis, 

qui salvandos salvas gratis, 

salve me, fons pietatis. 

________

King of dreadful majesty,
who freely saves the redeemed,
grant me pardon, thou fount of goodness. 

(4) Recordare

Recordare Jesu pie.
Quod sum causa tuae viae: 

ne me perdas illa die. 

 

Quaerens me, sedisti lassus: 

redemisti crucem passus: 

tantus labor non sit cassus. 

 

Juste judex ultionis, 

donum fac remissionis, 

ante diem rationis. 

 

Ingemisco, tamquam reus: 

culpa rubet vultus meus: 

supplicanti parce Deus. 

 

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti. 

 

Preces meae non sunt dignae: 

sed tu bonus fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne. 

 

Inter oves locum praesta, 

et ab haedis me sequestra, 

statuens in parte dextra. 

________

Remember, good Jesus,
that I am the cause of Thy journey: 

do not abandon me on that day. 

 

Seeking me, Thou didst sit down weary: 

Thou didst redeem me by enduring the cross: 

Let not such great pains be in vain. 

 

Righteous Judge of vengeance, 

grant me the gift of redemption 

before the day of reckoning. 

 

I groan, like one condemned: 

My face blushes with guilt: 

Spare a suppliant, O God. 

 

Thou who didst absolve Mary 

and hear the prayer of the thief, 

to me also Thou hast given hope. 

 

My prayers are not worthy:
But Thou, O good one, show mercy, 

lest I burn in the everlasting fire. 

 

Grant me a place among the sheep, 

and separate me from the goats, 

placing me on Thy right hand. 

(5) Confutatis

Confutatis maledictis, 

flammis acribus addictis. 

Voca me cum benedictis. 

 

Oro supplex et acclinis, 

cor contritum quasi cinis: 

gere curam mei finis. 

________

When the damned are 

confounded and consigned to the acrid flames,

summon me among the blessed. 

 

I pray, suppliant and kneeling, 

my heart contrite as if in ashes: 

Take care of my ending. 

(6) Lacrimosa

Lacrimosa dies illa, 

qua resurget ex favilla 

judicandus homo reus:

 

huic ergo parce Deus. 

Pie Jesu Domine, 

dona eis requiem.

 

Amen. 

________

That day is one of weeping,
on which will rise again from the ashes 

the guilty man to be judged. 

 

Therefore spare him, O God. 

Merciful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. 

 

Amen. 

IV. OFFERTORIUM: (1) Domine Jesu

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae, 

libera animas omnium fidelium 

defunctorum de poenis inferni,
et de profundo lacu: 

libera eas de ore leonis, 

ne absorbeat eas tartarus, 

ne cadant in obscurum: 

 

sed signifer sanctus Michael 

repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam: 

Quam olim Abrahae promisisti,
et semini ejus. 

________

Lord Jesus Christ, King of Glory,
deliver the souls of all the departed faithful from the pains of hell
and from the deep abyss.
Deliver them from the lion’s mouth,
that hell may not swallow them,
and they may not fall into darkness. 

 

But may the standard-bearer Saint Michael 

lead them into the holy light,
which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham 

and his seed. 

(2) Hostias

Hostias et preces tibi Domine
laudis offerimus:
tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam facimus:
fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam. 

Quam olim Abrahae promisisti, 

et semini ejus .

________

We offer unto Thee, Lord,
sacrifices and prayers of praise:
Do Thou receive them on behalf of those souls whom we commemorate this day:
Grant them, Lord, to pass from death to life, 

which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham 

and his seed. 

V. SANCTUS

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus 

Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. 

Hosanna in excelsis. 

________

Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God of Sabaoth.
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. 

Hosanna in the highest.

VI. BENEDICTUS

Benedictus qui venit 

in nomine Domini. 

Hosanna in excelsis. 

________

Blessed is he who cometh 

in the name of the Lord. 

Hosanna in the highest. 

VII. AGNUS DEI

Agnus Dei, 

qui tollis peccata mundi: 

dona eis requiem.


Agnus Dei, 

qui tollis peccata mundi:
dona eis requiem sempiternam. 

________

Lamb of God, 

who takest away the sins of the world, 

grant them rest.


Lamb of God, 

who takest away the sins of the world,
grant them eternal rest. 

VIII. COMMUNIO: Lux aeterna

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine:
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,
quia pius es.


Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, 

et lux perpetua luceat eis. 

________

Let eternal light shine upon them, Lord, 

among Thy saints forever,
for Thou art merciful.


Grant them eternal rest, Lord, 

and let eternal light shine upon them. 

ABOUT THIS PERFORMANCE (MASTERWORKS 7):

Take solace in the harmonious sound of symphonic voices, celebrating imperishable resilience in the face of oppression. Your Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra and Oʻahu Choral Society join forces with conductor Joshua Habermann, soprano Martina Bingham, mezzo-soprano Maya Hoover, tenor Michael St. Peter and baritone Leon Williams, in Mozart’s eternal Requiem in D minor, and the Hawaiʻi premiere of Jean Sibelius’s epic cantata for Finnish independence, The Captive Queen at the historic Kawaiaha'o Church.