Happy Birthday Mozart!
Last time we began the story of Mozart’s Requiem, the piece he left unfinished at his untimely death. Today, let’s continue the tale, finding out what happened to the unfinished work following the composer’s passing.
After her husband died, Constanze still needed the money from the Requiem commission and thus, after asking several composer friends, found Franz Xaver Sussmayer to be willing to complete the work. Sussmayer studied with Mozart, who had given his pupil instructions on how he intended the work to be completed prior to his death. Sussmayer likely agreed to this daunting task because he was a newer student who longed for any experience he could obtain.
After Mozart died, a Requeim Mass was held in December of 1791 in honor of the composer. The completed “Requiem” and “Kyrie” movements were performed during the mass. Several years later, in 1793, a benefit concert was held for Mozart’s widow and sons. The version heard here was most likely the completed Requiem by Sussmayer. While other composers have attempted to complete this Mozart masterpiece, Sussmayer’s version has remained the most popular.
What happened to the mysterious stranger who commissioned the work after Mozart passed? Scholars believe the stranger to be Anton Leitgeb, valet of Count Franz von Walsegg who commissioned the work. Walsegg was known to commission music and then claim them as his own compositions. This was his plan with the Requiem, which he intended to use to commemorate his late wife. Ten years following Mozart’s death, Constanze actually had to pay him for the rights to publish the work under her husband’s name!
Below you can hear a performance of Mozart’s Requiem: