In July of 1791, Mozart received a letter informing him that he would have a visitor the following day. Upon arrival, the visitor explained that he represented the man who wrote the letter and wished to commission Mozart to write a requiem. The visitor then gave Mozart two rules if he chose to accept the commission: to refrain from questioning who sent the letter and to never seek out where the requiem was to be performed following its completion.
Needing the money, Mozart accepted the offer and began work alongside his operas The Magic Flute and La clemenza di Tito. While he completed the operas that were both premiered during the fall of that year, the Requiem lay unfinished at the point of the composer’s premature death.
This month on Clef Notes we are looking at several famous works that were left unfinished by their composer. Over the next few days, let’s explore Mozart’s Requiem and the story surrounding its mysterious commission and the composer’s death.
Following his acceptance of the Requiem commission in July, Mozart fell ill in October with what would soon kill him. As he grew weaker physically, Mozart became more obsessed with his work on the Requiem. His wife, Constanze, eventually had to take the score away in fear that this obsession was only making matters worse. Mozart apparently even admitted to her that he believed he was writing the Requiem for his own death!
Prior to his passing, Mozart was able to complete the “Requiem” and “Kyrie” sections of his work, leaving the rest in the hands of his wife to decide who would complete the masterpiece.
Who did Constanze choose to complete her husband’s Requiem? And did they ever find out the identity of the mysterious man who commissioned the work? Join me next time for the rest of the story!