"the requiem? . . . that exceeds all norms! Here is where Mozart, after a very dissipated life, and faced with his own death, was raised by a spirit of Eternity, a Holy Spirit." Antonio Salieri as recorded by Friedrich Rochlitz
"The anecdote about the writing of the Requiem is, in my opinion, a fairy tale invented by Mozart's widow." Johann André, Constanze Mozart's Publisher
n 1839, forty eight years after Mozart's death, a school teacher from Wiener Neustadt, Austria drafted a statement entitled The True and detailed History of the Requiem of W.A. Mozart
. The author, Anton Herzog, had quietly observed the unfolding drama of Mozart's requiem for nearly five decades and had finally stepped forward to reveal what he knew. And what he knew was so disturbing that the Office of the Imperial and Royal Censor in Vienna banned it indefinitely. His report would not see the light of day until 1963
! This is his story.
Deception One - The Commission
Walsegg Deceives Mozart
he story of Mozart's Requiem begins not in Vienna, where it was written, but 30 miles to the south and its key figure is Count Franz von Walsegg
Count Franz von Walsegg
1763 - 1827
. A wealthy landowner and businessman, Walsegg's family had made their fortune largely in gypsum mining and the Counts wealth was such that he owned estates in Schottwien, Klam, Stuppach, Pottschach and Ziegersberg though he is known to have resided primarily in Schloss Stuppach
Schloss Stuppach. Home of Count Walsegg.
ount Walsegg was an amateur musician and his love for music ran deep. He not only played the flute and cello, he was an amateur composer and permanently employed several musicians. It was typical in the eighteenth century for the wealthy to maintain music ensembles. Some nobles, such as Esterhazy and Lobkowitz even had complete orchestras at their disposal. But Walsegg's musicians served a much different raison d'etre
than those of his fellow noblemen.
very Tuesday and Thursday Walsegg hosted concerts at Schloss Stuppach in which he and his musicians performed for his many friends . And this is where the strange, almost pathetic side of Walsegg emerges. For whatever reason, Walsegg would commission fresh compositions and pass them off as his own. One can only speculate what drove this man to seek the attention of his peers in this manner yet, he paid well for those anonymously obtained pieces, mostly flute quartetsFlute quartet - A piece written for flute, violin, viola and cello.
, and insisted on exclusive ownership when obtaining them. Franz Hoffmeister
Franz Anton Hoffmeister
1754 - 1812
, a close friend of Mozart, was one of the counts main suppliers of quartets. Herzog describes Walsegg's process
his harmless deception continued for years. At the conclusion of his soirees, he would challenge his guests to identify the composer of the piece they had just heard. Unknown to Walsegg, his friends were well aware of his artifice and calmly played along eventually naming the Count as the composer. As Herzog put it, "We were all young folk and considered that we were giving our master an innocent pleasure."
n February 14, 1791 the Count's beloved wife, Anna von Walsegg née von Flammberg suddenly died at the age of twenty. Deeply affected by his loss, the Count resolved to honor her memory in two ways. He would build a magnificent memorial for her remains and he would commission a requiem mass to be performed every year on the anniversary of her passing. To this end, he charged his attorney, Dr. Johann Sortschan, with making the necessary arrangements stipulating that Mozart should provide the requiem. As usual, Walsegg intended to claim the requiem as his own. Thus, the first deception was set into motion.
ozart had been working on his opera Die Zauberflöte
The Magic Flute
) since early May, 1791 and was close to completion in mid July. Sometime during that time frame, probably mid July, Mozart received a stranger.The approximate date of the requiem commission can be deduced by two important clues from Constanze Mozart's recollections on the subject. One, the messenger came "shortly before the coronation of Emperor Leopold, even before the order to go to Prague"; and two, from her description of events, she was obviously present in Vienna when the messenger arrived. That leaves 12 to 17 July as the most plausible dates.
Since his identity was unknown and he was dressed in grey, Mozart referred to him as the grey messenger
. This harmless description enthralled the readers of Mozart's first biographies with an almost absurd sense of foreboding. Interpretations went so far as to suggest a messenger from the hereafter. His true identity would prove to be less ominous.
rom a reference in Herzog's report, the messenger was initially believed to be Franz Anton Leitgeb though research now indicates it may well have been a legal clerk.Wolff.
Mozart's Requiem: Geschichte Musik - Dokumente - Partitur des Fragments
pg. 3, also note 10
Mozart was well acquainted with Leitgeb and it would have been natural to deduce Walsegg's connection. To keep the commission truly anonymous, it would have made more sense to send a clerk, perhaps the attorney himself went.Some have suggested that Mozart knew of Walsegg's involvement all along, pointing out that Michael von Puchberg could have been the conduit for this intelligence. Puchberg was a close friend and fellow Freemason of Mozart. He also rented an apartment in Vienna from Walsegg. Though the circumstantial evidence is strong, no hard evidence points to a link or knowledge on Mozart's part. In the end, it wouldn't have changed anything and Mozart would certainly have kept quiet so as not to spoil the ruse.
Constanze Mozart née Weber
1762 - 1842
wo scenarios involving Mozart's acceptance of the Requiem commission have come down to us. The popular version is that he readily accepted the commission on the advise of his wife, Constanze. Recent research however, reveals a slightly different scenario. It is more likely that Mozart was reluctant to take on such a project at that time due to an already busy schedule.Bruce Cooper Clarke makes a compelling argument that an article in the 7 January 1792 edition of the Salzburger Intelligenzblatt contains information that is essentially accurate and derived from a source who was likely in direct contact with Mozart. The article describes Mozart's reluctance to accept the commission.
Bruce Cooper Clarke
The Requiem's Inception - Footnote to a Footnote
It is now thought that Mozart sought to discourage the "music lover" from commissioning the requiem by stipulating an excessive fee (
)Accounts differ as to the fee for the requiem with 50, 60 and 100 being reported.
and stating delivery could not be made in less than three months. To Mozart's surprise, the messenger returned with 30 ducats and a promise for the balance on delivery of the requiem. Either way, Mozart took on the commission in July of 1791.
o the north in Prague, events were unfolding that would delay Mozart's work on the requiem. Leopold II
Leopold II, 1747 - 1792
was due to be crowned King of Bohemia in Prague in early September, 1791 and the entertainment for the event was to include, among other things, a newly written coronation opera. Domenico Guardasoni
1731 - 1806
, an impresarioImpresario - The agent, organizer or manager of an opera or concert company.
, entered into a contract with the Bohemian Estates to procure the opera and he initially offered the commission to Antonio Salieri
1750 - 1825
. Stating that he was short handed at the court opera, Salieri declined the offer whereupon Guardasoni approached Mozart. A new opera was a temptation that Mozart couldn't refuse. He eagerly accepted the offer to write La Clemenza di Tito
and Guardisoni paid him 200 ducats plus 50 ducats travel expenses to Prague. Mozart set to work immediately on the project and worked relentlessly. At that point, only seven weeks remained until the scheduled premiere. To assist him with this near impossible task, Mozart enlisted the help of his assistant, Franz Xaver Süssmayr. More on Süssmayr later.
n 25 August Mozart, Constanze and Süssmayr departed for Prague and the upcoming coronation. They were boarding the coach when suddenly, "as if from nowhere", the grey messenger
appeared tugging at Constanze's coat. The messenger inquired about the requiem whereupon Mozart replied that the trip "was necessary" and he would finish the requiem when he returned. Satisfied, the messenger took his leave and Mozart departed for Prague.
fter the premiere of La Clemenza di TitoThe premiere of La Clemenza di Tito in Prague was less than successful. The Empress did not like it and regarded it as "German swinishness." It enjoyed a brief success in Prague and elsewhere after the premiere but has long been thought to be one of Mozart's lesser efforts largely due to the hurried manner in which it was written. In recent years it has made a comeback.
, Mozart returned to Vienna in mid September where he had two very anxious clients waiting for him; theater owner Emanuel Schikaneder
1751 - 1812
, who had commissioned The Magic Flute
and of course, in the wings, Walsegg was waiting for his requiem.
alsegg had the grey messenger
call on Mozart shortly after his return from Prague, pointing out that the deadline had passed. Mozart confessed to the messenger that he would require another month to finish the requiem and that the work had become, "more interesting to me, I am expanding it more than at first". Again, satisfied with his answer, the messenger departed.
chikaneder was anxious to stage The Magic Flute
and Mozart had an obligation to bring the opera to fruition. The requiem would have to wait. Fortunately, at that point the The Magic Flute
was nearly complete and all that remained were the overture and the March of the Priests. These were completed on 28 September and two days later Mozart conducted the premiere
The Magic Flute
thus eliminating the last real obstacle to the requiem.
t is generally accepted that Mozart began work on the requiem in earnest after the premiere of The Magic Flute
. Even then, it did not receive his full attention. In mid October he completed a clarinet concerto, KV 622, for his friend and fellow Free Mason, Anton Stadler
1753 - 1812
and later The Little Masonic Cantata
, KV 623. The time devoted to these other works no doubt had a significant impact on the creation of the requiem and given other distractions, Mozart had perhaps a month in which he was able to work on the requiem.
hen, yet another hindrance cropped up; Constanze took the score away from Mozart. An incident occurred in late October that was documented in both the Niemetschek
Prof. Franz Niemetschek
1766 - 1849
Mozart's First Biographer
Georg Nikolaus von Nissen
1761 - 1826
Constanze's 2nd Husband
biographies and would ultimately inspire wild speculation. In mid to late October, Constanze persuaded her husband to take a break and accompany her to the Prater, a park in Vienna. While there, Mozart disclosed the fact that he had been thinking of death and that it appeared to him that he was writing the requiem for himself. He went on to say that he felt he didn't have much longer and that he was certain that he had been poisoned. Though Constanze never named a possible assassin, that anecdotal tidbit would cause considerable grief for Antonio Salieri three decades later. As it turned out, Mozart's spirit seemed to be lifted after the premiere of The Little Masonic Cantata
on 18 November and she "allowed" him to work on the requiem once again. There is no reason to doubt that Mozart's failing health motivated Constanze to take the score away however, her version of the circumstances leaves considerable room for scepticism.Immediately after Mozart's death, the Musikalische Wochenblatt in Berlin erroneously reported that Mozart appeared to have been poisoned. The rumor of poisoning was already widespread when Constanze related her account of Mozart's fears.
ozart took to his final sickbed on 20 November with but two weeks to live. The symptoms of his illness were keenly observed and recorded by those present though they had no idea what the illness was. Sophie Haibel, Mozart's sister in law, later described Mozart's condition at the end as a high fever accompanied by a painful swelling of the body making it difficult to move in bed.
he physician who attended Mozart, Dr Nicolaus Closset did
know what was ailing him but in the eighteenth century, had no treatment. Mozart suffered from Rheuma inflammatorium
or rheumatic fever; the result of an epidemic in Vienna at that time.
heumatic fever is an immune system disease that may result from streptococcal infection. Throughout his short life, Mozart had experienced a multitude of serious illnesses and had suffered several bouts of rheumatic fever.
r Closset consulted Dr Mathias von Sallaba on the case. Both of these men were considered among the most knowledgeable doctors in Vienna at that time and Dr Closset suspected early on that the outcome would be fatal. Another physician, Dr. Eduard Guldener von Lobes, though he did not visit Mozart, was kept apprised of the situation and later examined Mozart's body in his capacity as municipal health officer. In a letter to Giuseppi Carpani, Dr von Lobes recalled Mozart's illness
"In late autumn he had fallen ill with inflammatory rheumatic fever which was going around generally at the time and affected many persons. I only learned of it some days later when his condition had already turned for the worse. For various reasons, I did not visit him but I did ask Dr. Closset, whom I ran into virtually every day, about him. The doctor regarded Mozart's illness as serious and feared from the beginning it would have an unhappy outcome" Dr Anton Neumayr, Excerpts concerning Mozart's final illness and death
ore recently, doctors and scholars examining evidence passed down in the historical record have arrived at the same conclusion as Mozart's doctors. In the year 2000, the sixth annual Clinical Pathological Conference, dedicated to notorious case histories, convened at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to investigate Mozart's cause of death. Dr. Faith T. Fitzgerald announced the panel's diagnosis: Mozart died of rheumatic fever.The panel's statement -
"On Nov. 20, 1791, Mozart is stricken with a high fever, headaches, a rash and pain and swelling in his arms and legs. He remains alert and lucid, but is increasingly agitated and asks to have his favorite pet canary removed from his room because its singing agitates him -- irritation is a classic symptom of rheumatic fever. Week two: Mozart suffers repeated bouts of vomiting and diarrhea; his body swells so his clothes no longer fit, and he cannot not sit up in bed without help. Aware he is dying, he gives instructions on how to complete the Requiem he is composing. As the illness progresses, it weakens Mozart's heart, causing fluid retention and extreme swelling. Fitzgerald points out that Mozart's heart may have been compromised by bouts of rheumatic fever he suffered earlier in his life. After a fit of delirium followed by a coma, Mozart finally dies ..."
ozart attempted to work on the requiem on his death bed but when he realized the end was likely near, he is reported to have given Süssmayr instructions on its completion. Mozart died in the early hours of 5 December 1791 leaving the requiem unfinished.
n 6 December, Mozart's funeral procession departed his apartment
Rauhensteingasse where Mozart died.
and proceeded to St. Stephan's
St. Stephan's Cathedral
cathedral. Contrary to what has come down through time, his was not a paupers burial. Prior to Mozart's passing, Emperor Joseph II
Emperor Joseph II
1741 - 1790
had enacted a regulation mandating burial in common graves. This extended to all classes of people. Simply put, Vienna was running out of room to bury its dead. Baron Gottfried van Swieten
Gottfried van Swieten
1733 - 1803
paid for the funeral which included a cross bearer, four pallbearers and four choir boys; what was then, a middle class funeral.The day after Mozart's death, Vienna was ablaze with scandal. Franz Hofdemel, age thirty six and a fellow Free Mason of Mozart, attacked his pregnant wife Magdalena, then committed suicide. Her face was permanently disfigured but she survived. Hofdemel died at the scene of self inflicted wounds. Though his motive will never be known, the rumor mill went to work and supplied some scenarios. One rumor had it that Mozart owed Hofdemel money though that would hardly be a motive to kill his wife. A much darker supposition is that Hofdemel had been hired by the Free Masons to poison Mozart and then went mad. Given that Mozart died of rheumatic fever, not poisoning, this fantasy has no credibility at all. No . . . it was yet another rumor that may account for this tragedy. That Magdalena, a student of Mozart's, was carrying the composer's child. There is no proof of this and we shall never know whether or not this allegation is true.
Deception Two - Completing the Requiem
Constanze Deceives Walsegg
ollowing Mozart's death, Constanze found herself in dire straits though history seems to have embellished this point. In the near term, she was without income and her husband did owe on some loans. That she was able to quickly extricate herself from these circumstances was not generally known to her contemporaries. When the customary "Notice to All Creditors" was published, no one stepped forward to make a claim and there was
money due to Mozart though those funds would be delayed in coming. More on Constanze's finances later. Of particular interest in the history of the requiem is the fact that it was performed, in its unfinished state, just five days after Mozart's death.
ecently discovered church records and newspaper articles indicate that on 10 December 1791, a performance of the requiem took place at St. Michael's chapel in Vienna. The performance was organized by Emanuel Schikaneder and his business partner and likely consisted of just the Requiem Aeternum
.Since Mozart had completed much of the score with vocal parts and figured bass, other sections could have been performed with voices and organ only.
n 13 December 1791, the Auszug aller eoropäischen Zeitungen
nd on 16 December 1791, the Der heimliche Botschafter
reported the same story
hen Mozart died only the Requiem Aeternum
had been completed in orchestral form. To facilitate a performance of the Kyrie
, Franz Jakob Freistädtler made a hasty completion of it consisting of merely doubling the voices with the winds and strings. With theater owner Schikaneder providing the impetus for the 10 December performance it was very likely he who had Freistädtler complete the Kyrie
. The question arises, was it this completion of the Kyrie
, that prompted Constanze to have the requiem finished or had the idea already occurred to her? Either way, she stood to gain from its completion. Walsegg's commission had stipulated a sizable sum would be paid upon delivery of the score. Constanze resolved to present a completed, autograph score to the anonymous enthusiast.
ust eleven days after the St. Michael's performance and two weeks after her husbands death, Constanze entered into an agreement with Joseph Eybler
Joseph Leopold Eybler
1765 - 1846
to finish the requiem. He signed a receipt for the original score that bears an air of secrecy
"The undersigned herewith testifies that the widow, Frau Konstanzia Mozart, has entrusted to him the Mass for the Dead which her late husband had begun. He further declares that he is prepared to complete it by mid-Lent of next year [mid March of 1792], and that it will not be copied nor given to anyone else but to the composer's widow.
Vienna, December 21, 1791. Joseph Eybler." Heinz Gärtner, Reinhard Pauly,Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem,
pg. 39 - 40.
he requiem manuscript then passed into the possession of Eybler and revealed that Mozart's method of composition was to first write the vocal parts with figured bass (
) then go back and complete the orchestration later. A thin outline of the orchestration had been indicated by occasional motivic entries. Most of the requiem was left in this 'particella' state on twelve staff music paper with room reserved for the orchestra. The final three movements had not yet been written.
he layout of the requiem with Mozart's progress at the time of his death.
Eight bars written
16 bar sketch, lost until 1960
|VI. Agnus Dei
oseph Eybler, a member of Mozart's inner circle, had helped to care for Mozart in his few remaining days. Educated in the same school as Joseph and Michael Haydn, he later became a student of the celebrated Albrectsberger. Mozart held him in high esteem and said of him, "it is to be regretted that so few are his equal." Eybler would seem to be a good choice on Constanze's part but his involvement with the requiem would be short lived. After working on the Sequence to the end of the Confutatis and adding two bars to the Lacrymosa, Eybler suddenly backed out. Could it be that he could not bear to put his hand to Mozart's creation or that he began to fear the possible consequences of Constanze's scheme. Several years later Constanze would claim that Eybler refused her request to finish the requiem, then later corrected herself. Could this have been a memory lapse or was she trying to conceal his involvement?
uch work remained on the requiem and Constanze was now back to square one. After consulting several composers, she finally persuaded Süssmayr to complete the requiem. A composer in his own right, Süssmayr would go on to write the opera Moses oder der Auszug aus Ägypten
, which premiered shortly after Mozart's death and later wrote Der Spiegel von Arkadien
which gained acclaim across Europe. In 1794 he was appointed Kapellmeister of the National Theater in charge of German opera. Süssmayr is often described as Mozart's student though he was more of an assistant than a pupil. Süssmayr was in fact, a student of Salieri. It should be noted that some scholars interpret Mozart's attitude toward Süssmayr as being negative but this stems largely from Mozart's incessant crude jokes at his expense. Others have interpreted a close relationship between Mozart and Süssmayr pointing to the fact that the Mozart's second son, Franz Xaver Wolfgang, was named after Süssmayr.
here is no concrete evidence as to when Süssmayr finished the requiem though it is reasonable to assume it was late February, 1792. In completing the Requiem, Süssmayr abandoned Eybler's previous work and re-orchestrated everything up to the Lacrymosa. He then finished writing the Lacrymosa and composed the final movements (Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Communion). Upon completing the requiem, Süssmayr made two copies for Constanze and kept a copy for himself. It should be noted at this point that Süssmayr's hand writing was virtually identical to Mozart's and that Süssmayr went to great pains to forge Mozart's hand.
Deception Three - Selling the Requiem
Constanze Deceives Walsegg Again
n early February 1792, Constanze received an unexpected request that would contribute greatly towards her financial well being. King Friedrich Wilhelm II
Friedrich Wilhelm II
1744 - 1797
of Prussia sent his Ambassador in Vienna, Baron Jacobi von Klöst, to purchase eight specific scores from Constanze if she would agree. His offer was 800 ducats
! Mozart's annual salary as Court KammercompositeurKammercompositeur - Court chamber music composer.
had been 200 ducats making this sale a substantial windfall for the widow. In the bill of sale for 3 March, we can see that Constanze has sold a copy of the requiem to Friedrich Wilhelm, for the sum of 450 florins (
). Obviously, Süssmayr had finished it prior to that date but more importantly, this was the first of an unknown number of sales of the requiem to "princes".
nd what of Walsegg? It is not known exactly when he received his requiem but, given his impatience in the matter, it had to have been around the same time as the sale to King Friedrich Wilhelm. Walsegg completed the transaction believing he was sole owner of a requiem written entirely by Mozart and that he alone possessed the autograph manuscript and sole rights to the work. As usual, he made a copy of the requiem in his own hand. What Walsegg actually received may or may not have been the autograph manuscript. Though he later possessed the autograph of the Introit
, it is not clear when he received it; possibly in 1800.
n 2 January 1793, a little over a year after Mozart's death, the completed requiem received its first public performance. Baron van Swieten organized the performance for Constanze's benefit and it is known from a letter by Constanze years later, court Kapellmeister Salieri himself attended rehearsals. It was held in the Jahn-Saal in Vienna and proceeds from the benefit were reported in the Magyar Hirmondó
as amounting to over "300 gold ducats".
or Mozart's friends and admirers this performance was an expression of reverence. From Walsegg's perspective, Constanze had demonstrated breach of contract. Walsegg (
still maintaining a cloak of anonymity
) had taken delivery of the requiem with the understanding that it was his exclusive property; a stipulation that Walsegg had spelled out with Mozart at the time of the commission. Wasn't Constanze aware of this? Surely it was reiterated at the time of delivery. As we will see from her actions later on, she was well aware of the terms of the agreement.
y allowing this performance, she had placed Walsegg in an uncomfortable position. Though he had every right to legal recourse, doing so would publicise the fact that Mozart had written the requiem thereby negating his own claim to authorship. Rather than pursue the matter, Walsegg sat tight for almost a year.
Deception Four - Claiming the Requiem
Walsegg Deceives His Friends
ount Walsegg first performed his new requiem later that year on 14 December 1793 and the score he conducted from read Requiem composto del Conte Walsegg
. He was claiming authorship. Two months later he performed it again as described by Herzog in his 1839 statement
ith the spreading news that Mozart had written a requiem on his deathbed, Walsegg was forced abandon all future plans for performing it. More alarming was the fact that some in his inner circle were asking questions. His propensity for claiming authorship of other's work was well known by his friends so he had to come up with an explanation as to why he was claiming to have written this very same requiem. He claimed that he had studied with Mozart (
) and that he had sent Mozart the sections of the requiem, one by one, as he wrote them, for the master's approval. He further claimed that when Mozart died this score was mistaken for a work of Mozart's. It is doubtful any of his friends believed him; all the more reason to discontinue future performances.
n 1794 Constanze sent her oldest son, Karl Thomas, to live with Franz Niemetschek and a year later, her youngest son Franz Xaver Wolfgang was given over to his care as well.
xcept for a performance in Leipzig in 1796, where the requiem was billed as Mozart's last work, all was quiet concerning the requiem.
Deception Five - Publishing the Requiem
Constanze Ignores the Terms of Agreement
n 1795 the Leipzig based publishing house of Breitkopf had, through a new partnership, become the firm of Breitkopf & Härtel. Gottfried Christoph Härtel
Gottfried Christoph Härtel
1763 - 1827
was an aggressive and shrewd businessman who had plans for the company. Plans that included not only publishing Mozart's requiem but his entire works.
onstanze's initial communications with Härtel concerned the complete works of her late husband but were eventually suspended while she assembled a catalog of his works. Lacking the required expertise for this undertaking she enlisted one Abbé Maximilian Stadler
Abbé Maximilian Stadler
1748 - 1833
a washed up clergyman and musical dilettante. When Mozart had died, his music estate was in complete disarray. Abbé Stadler systematically organized all of his scores giving Constanze a clear idea of what he had left behind. This project must have been enjoyable for Stadler, affording him not just a glimpse but complete access to Mozart's legacy. An outcome of Stadler's association with Constanze was his acquiring (
sometime after 1802
) leaves 11-32 of the requiem autograph manuscript (Dies Irae
n Constanze's negotiations with Härtel, the subject of the requiem was first brought up in March of 1799. Härtel had two copies but had doubts as to their accuracy. He needed access to the original manuscript. In the course of their correspondence concerning the requiem, Constanze then did something astonishing; she revealed Süssmayr's involvement in the completion of the requiem. From a letter dated 27 March 1799
". . . This is what happened. When he saw his death was upon him, he spoke to Herr Süssmayr, Imperial-Royal Capellmeister here in the city, and asked him, if he actually died without finishing it, to repeat the first fugue in the last movement -- as is usual, in any case -- and told him further how to realize the ending, the major part of which had already been done in some places, in the vocal parts." Bauer - Deutsch IV, No 1240; new translation
Quoted in Christoph Wolff,
Mozart's Requiem: Geschichte Musik - Dokumente - Partitur des Fragments,
t may be that Constanze realized Süssmayr's involvement would come out eventually and this preemptive move was her way of controlling the possible damage. In truth, knowledge of Süssmayr's connection with the requiem was already known; at least in some circles. In 1796 a performance of the requiem was given at the monastery school of Kremsmünster where it was reported that Franz Süssmayr, a former student there had completed the unfinished work. One would have thought that news of the involvement of a ghost writer would spread uncontrollably but surprisingly, the public was unaware of Süssmayr's contribution for many years to come. His role in the matter was known only within a limited circle of individuals.
ore importantly, Constanze was becoming more concerned with the rights claimed by the anonymous enthusiast in regard to publication. She finally spelled it out for Härtel on 29 May, possibly to warn him of the pitfalls but more likely to distance herself from the matter
ndignant that Härtel had not offered to buy the requiem but merely wanted to rent it and concerned about possible legal repercussions, Constanze offered to sell the requiem for 50 ducats and assured Härtel she would work things out with the anonymous man. At that point she had no idea how the anonymous patron would react yet she continued in a manner that would allow publication of the Requiem. Härtel declined her offer to sell and advised her he was going to publish the requiem. He was becoming impatient with her posturing and apparently accused her of already violating the anonymous patron's rights in the matter. She countered
ive copies? She charged King Friedrich Wilhelm 100 ducats for his copy and it is known that at least two other princes had been 'given' copies. One is left to assume that they were similarly charged and it appears that between the benefit performance and princely sales she had already made a substantial sum from the requiem. She conceded the battle with Härtel and offered to rent her copy to him for a mere 25 gulden and ten complimentary copies. Nikolaus von Nissen, who was by then living with Constanze and would later marry her, sent Constanze's copy of the requiem to Härtel.
ärtel then published the following announcement in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung
which he owned
) in September of 1799
". . . we now intend to issue larger works, in score form. The first such publication will be Mozart's Requiem, his last and most perfect work. It will be issued in two parts, based on the manuscript furnished for this purpose by Mozart's widow. Up to now, this masterwork has reached the public only by way of a few manuscript copies, most of which are incomplete and contain serious errors." Heinz Gärtner, Reinhard Pauly,Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem,
ärtel was indeed going to publish the requiem and by cleverly inserting the words "based on the manuscript furnished for this purpose by Mozart's widow" he was shifting legal responsibility to Constanze. Alarmed by this incriminating tactic, Constanze countered on 18 October
n that letter Constanze quotes a draft of the statement she intended to publish. In the end, her threat to go public turned out to be a scare tactic; she never published it. A little over a month later, on 30 November, Constanze attempted to get Härtel to locate the anonymous patron and sent him a seal from one of Walsegg's letters. It is doubtful that Härtel was ever really concerned about the anonymous patron's claims.
alsegg had turned a deaf ear to the performances of his requiem but Härtel's public notice of impending publication was too much to bear. Through his attorney, Dr. Sortschan, he confronted Constanze. She informed Sortshcan that the soon to be published score had been prepared from copies that she had no control over. Walsegg realized that no amount of maneuvering could change matters. The best he could do now was to back down and protect himself from public embarrassment. On 30 January 1800, Constanze notified Härtel in a brief letter that
here is a possibility that Walsegg was offered the autograph manuscript of the Introit
as a means of placating him. Whether he received it then or at the time of delivery, it was definitely in his possession at the time of his death.
n early 1800, after negotiations with Breitkopf & Härtel failed, Constanze sold Mozart's entire music estate to the Offenbach publisher, Johann André
Johann Anton André
1775 - 1842
, for 2550 gulden (
). A year later, André would publish the first vocal score of the Requiem.
he notice to publish had created anticipation for the score and Härtel needed to go to press but wisely decided to investigate the issue of Süssmayr's involvement. In response to a letter from Härtel, Süssmayr replied on 8 February 1800
n his letter Süssmayr goes on to tell how Mozart's widow contacted "several masters" before offering him the job and that Mozart had talked to him about "the detailed working of this composition, and explained to me the how and the wherefore of his instrumentation." He concludes the letter by outlining his additions to the requiem
"Of the requiem [Introit] with Kyrie, Dies Irae [Sequenz] and Domine Jesu Christe [Offertory], Mozart completed the four vocal parts and the figured bass; of the instrumentation, however, he indicated only the motivic idea here and there . . . The Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei were wholly composed by me; but, in order to give the work greater uniformity, I took the liberty of repeating the Kyrie fugue at the line ' cum sanctus, etc.'" Mozart Dokumente, Addenda et Corrigenda, 89; new translation
Quoted in Christoph Wolff,
Mozart's Requiem: Geschichte Musik - Dokumente - Partitur des Fragments,
pparently Härtel didn't believe Süssmayr or didn't care. The published score appeared in the summer of 1800 and made no mention of being completed by Süssmayr. The authenticity of the requiem was still an open issue and Breitkopf & Härtel had not fully established Süssmayr's involvement when they went to press. It is therefore astonishing that the first real attempt to sort this out occurred after the release of the first edition.
t the suggestion of Constanze, a "collation" of scores was carried out in the fall of 1800. It appears that her interest in the comparison was the accuracy of the copies against the published score though it can be certain that at least some of the parties were keenly interested in Süssmayr's contribution. Walsegg was contacted through advertisements in the newspapers and agreed to make his copy of the score available. He was represented in the proceeding by Sortschan. Abbé Maximilian Stadler, who had cataloged Mozart's music estate, was called as an expert in the area of Mozart's manuscripts. Frederik Silverthorpe, Swedish diplomat, was present and wrote a report afterwards. Also present was Nissen.
bbé Stadler went over Constanze's copy, the manuscript and the published version, noting errors and circling in pencil on the manuscript, those portions of the score not
by Mozart. These marks are still visible today. The results? It was found that, except for a few copyists mistakes, the scores were identical. Additionally, for the first time, the precise extent of Süssmayr's completion was established and documented. Constanze was quick to notify Härtel and on 16 August 1800 she wrote
n June of 1802 Constanze wrote to Härtel concerning Süssmayr's role in the Requiem completion however the real value of her letter is that she reveals the disposition of the autograph manuscript. At that point in time the Introit
were with Walsegg and the Sequenz (Dies Irae
) were in her possession having been returned to her by Süssmayr. Constanze alludes to the fact that this portion of the manuscript contains Eybler's attempt at the completion though she doesn't mention him by name. The Sequenz would later fall into Abbé Stadler's hands and the Lacrymosa
, Domine Jesu
would be given to Joseph Eybler.
Constanze in 1802
he Requiem saga becomes dormant at this point, though it is far from over. The various players would go their separate ways and life would go on. Twenty five years later a new controversy would erupt followed by yet another. Apprehension concerning the origins of the Requiem persisted.
ranz Xaver Süssmayr died in 1803, his death the result of tuberculosis aggravated by alcoholism. Prior to his untimely death the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung
reviewed Süssmayr's completion of the Requiem, effectively painting him as a poor composer and disputing the scope of his claimed contribution. He was buried in St Marx cemetery, the same resting place as his mentor, Mozart.
onstanze was married to Georg Nikolaus von Nissen in 1809 after living him with since 1798. From 1810 to 1820 they lived in Copenhagen, eventually settling in Salzberg in 1824.
oseph Eybler, who had briefly worked on the Requiem completion, was appointed choir director at the Carmelite Church in 1792 and in 1794 assumed the position of choir director at the Schottenkloster in Vienna. In 1824 he became Court Kapellmeister filling that position after the retirement of Antonio Salieri.At the time of his "retirement", Salieri had been admitted to the Vienna Allgemeine Krankenhaus hospital for a nervous breakdown, the result of persistent rumors that he had poisoned Mozart. Rumors fed by Constanze's statements to Niemetschek and Nissen. Though she never named Salieri she did nothing to discourage the rumors she knew to be false.
bbé Maximilian Stadler served as a parish priest in Großkrut, Lower Austria from 1803 to 1816 when he retired to Vienna and became active in that city's music life.
he monument erected for Anna von Walsegg was desecrated by French troops during the Naspoleonic wars forcing Walsegg to move her remains to the family crypt.
e now arrive at 1825 and the next chapter in the story of Mozart's Requiem. Gottfried Weber
Jacob Gottfried Weber
1779 - 1839
was the editor and chief writer for the music journal Cäcilia
and was known for his controversial articles. Weber was a legal counselor who had extensive training in music theory and had authored some important books on the subject including Versuch einer geordneten Theorie der Tonsetzkunst
(Theory of Musical Composition) where he introduced the use of roman numerals for analytical chord notation, a practice still in use.
n 1825 Weber succeeded in causing a major stir when he alleged that Mozart's Requiem was a fraud. Citing the mysterious circumstances surrounding the Requiem, Weber concluded that the work was largely Süssmayr's. He went on to theorize that Süssmayr had worked from some sketches left by Mozart and had botched the whole work but that Mozart had
completed the Requiem and turned it over to the anonymous patron
". . . that the Requiem was not authentic, becomes the sad but incontrovertible certainty that the work for the most part is Süssmayr's (as he stated in his letter to the publisher), and that not a single part of it is completely by Mozart. It is also certain that the genuine Requiem by Mozart up to now has not been discovered." Heinz Gärtner, Reinhard Pauly,Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem,
e then chastised the public for believing that it was Mozart's
üssmayr had never received the credit he deserved for his part in the completion and now he was being demonized for supposedly writing most of it.
bbé Maximilian Stadler had seen the manuscript when the collation had taken place 25 years earlier and knew that Weber was wrong in his assertions. The Abbé responded by publishing an essay entitled Vertheidigung des Mozartschen Requiem
Defense of Mozart's Requiem
). In the essay he outlined the contributions of both Mozart and Süssmayr in clear, lucid language. Had he ended his rebuttal there he would have come out victorious. However, buoyed with confidence and his knowledge of the subject the Abbé then interjected a theory that derailed the discussion entirely and provided Weber with fuel to continue. Abbé Stadler advanced the hypothesis that Mozart had based the Introit
on themes by Handel. The discussion had strayed from the heart of the matter; just what was Süssmayr's contribution?
t about this time the publisher Johann André entered the picture. André had obtained a copy of the Requiem score from Constanze that indicated those sections by Mozart and those by Süssmayr. Based on that score, he had been planning an edition of the Requiem that clearly delineated who wrote what by annotating sections of the score with "M" and "S". Seeing the excitement generated by Weber and Stadler, he released an announcement in his journal, Cäcilia
"Just very recently Weber's concerns about the authenticity of the work have caused Mozart's widow . . . to write to me. She asked me to settle the matter in a public statement, since I am in a position to do so on the basis of the copy she furnished me in 1800. I herewith announce my intention of doing so in the very near future." Heinz Gärtner, Reinhard Pauly,Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem,
n the Autumn of 1826 André published the annotated Requiem score and included with it a lengthy introduction explaining the extent of Mozart and Süssmayr's contribution. He also proposed the theory that Mozart had composed the Requiem prior to 1784 when he was 28 years old. When Constanze read that, she was infuriated. Preferring to remain behind the scenes throughout the whole Requiem ordeal, she wrote privately to Abbé Stadler
hat same year Georg Nikolaus von Nissen, Constanze's second husband died. He was buried in the Sebastian Cemetery in Salzburg where Constanze had the tombstone of Leopold Mozart removed to make room for Nissen's markerLeopold had opposed Mozart's marriage to Constanze and she never forgave him for that.
. At the service held for Nissen, Constanze's youngest son, Franz Xaver conducted Mozart's Requiem.
Deception Six - The Coverup
Censors Suppress the Truth
he public debate finally cooled down and life went on. A few years later around 1831, Abbé Stadler now 83 years old, turned over to the Imperial Court Library the original manuscript of the Sequenz portion of the Requiem minus the Lacrymosa
. And in 1833 the Court Library acquired the Lacrymosa
, Domine Jesu
of the manuscript from Joseph Eybler. Eybler had suffered a stroke that year while conducting a performance of Mozart's Requiem and was no longer able to carry out his duties at court.
o fuss was ever made about these acquisitions and they sat quietly on the shelf for years as if no one realized they were in Mozart's hand and held the answers long sought after. Then in 1838 a discovery was made that created considerable excitement and reopened the Requiem case. To use the words of Anton Herzog, ". . . wonder of wonders
! - there came to light . . . the score of Mozart's Requiem . . ."
he 'Mozart' Requiem referred to by Herzog actually consisted of Mozart's original manuscript of the Requiem Aeternum
; the remainder of said score being a copy by Süssmayr. Walsegg had kept it under lock and key until the day he died in 1827. At Walsegg's passing, his brother-in-law, Count von Sternberg, had sold all of Walsegg's music instruments and scores to a Joseph Leitner. Some how Karl Haag, a former musician in Walsegg's service had come to possess the score and at his passing he willed it to Katharina Adelpoller.
n 1838 a former employee of Walsegg by the name of Nowack had been asked by Count Moritz von Dietrichstein
Count Moritz von Dietrichstein
1775 - 1864
to look in Haag's effects for six string quartets by Mozart that may have been given to Walsegg. Dietrichstein was an official at the Imperial Court Library and as such he was interested in artifacts. When Nowack examined Haag's effects he didn't find any quartets but discovered the Requiem. The Court Library cautiously established that Adelpoller was indeed the legal owner and after examining the score paid her 50 ducats for it.
e now return to the beginning of our story and Anton Herzog's report. Herzog, the school teacher from Wiener Neustadt, had witnessed events from Walsegg's perspective since 1792 and could no longer remain silent. He wrote a statement titled The True and detailed History of the Requiem of W.A. Mozart
. In it he cautioned that the score may not be the original manuscript
"In how far this score is the original score I can only be judged by what is written here provided that people do not take it for the one in Sussmayar's hand which could easily happen as Sussmayer wrote almost half of this work. I have not seen this score but believe that it may be the score which is in Count von Walsegg's own hand as this did not turn up in the pieces of music which were found after his death. I would, as I have said, recognise this score at a glance. If one were to compare it to the handwriting of Mozart, which perhaps has already been done, one would discover the similarity in the two styles. As Count von Walsegg often said, as I have mentioned, his own handwriting bore the closest possible resemblance to Mozart's." Anton Herzog, The True and detailed History of the Requiem of W.A. Mozart, 1839
erzog's report was a disturbing development. The Court Library was unsure of the score's origins but could not afford this sort of news, especially since the discovery had become publicly known and was generating excitement. The Imperial Censor, likely acting on a request from the Court Library, stamped the report "Not authorized for publication". It was filed away in Wiener Neustadt and forgotten for more than a century. Ironically, Herzog was wrong and the Requiem Aeternum
sections of the score were
in Mozart's hand.
A group photo taken in 1840 believed to include Constanze Mozart. The photo (Daguerreotype) was discovered in the state archives of Altötting, Germany and was taken at the home of the composer Max Keller. Inset to the right is from an 1802 painting of Constanze by Hans Hansen.
ean while, Franz von Mosel
Ignaz Franz von Mosel
1772 - 1844
, curator of the library, was faced with a dilemma; he had two manuscripts in strikingly similar hands, perhaps even the same hand. What did they represent? Mosel arranged for graphologists to examine the two scores against samples of Süssmayr's writing. Their opinion was that the newly acquired score from Walsegg's estate was in two different hands - Mozart and Süssmayr. Still uncertain, Mosel wrote to Constanze, now 77 years old, in very candid language asking her to reveal exactly what had happened. Ever elusive on the subject of the Requiem, Constanze merely replied that the manuscript might be Süssmayr's personal copy. Constanze died three years later on 6 March, 1842. Her net worth at her passing was over 27,000 gulden (
$300,000 in current USD
). With questions still unanswered, the three separate parts of the manuscript had finally been reunited in the Imperial State Library
Imperial State Library
Today, The Vienna State Library
oday, as always, Mozart's Requiem Mass is one of the crown jewels of sacred music. But what have we learned about the Requiem since Constanze's final elusive statement? Surprisingly, the answers to questions of authenticity and Süssmayr's role have been known since before 1800 though those involved at the time didn't realize it or were reluctant to believe it.
t the time of his death, Mozart had written out the Requiem from Introit
in particella form, that is voices and figured bass. The orchestration had been indicated only by occasional motivic entries except for the Introit
which had been completed in its entirety. The Lacrymosa
stops at the eighth measure and it is believed these are the last notes ever set down by Mozart.
ranz Jakob Freistädtler completed the Kyrie
fugue by doubling the voices with winds and strings.
oseph Eybler wrote his attempt at the completion on the autograph manuscript from the Dies Irae
to the Confutatis
and added two measures to the Lacrymosa
. His backing out at the Lacrymosa
, the point where he would have to start composing something new, tempts one to think he just couldn't bear to attempt something on a par with his friend Mozart. Some musicologists have commented that Eybler's completion, in their opinion, is superior to Süssmayr's.
A page from the Kyrie showing three different hands. This page was in Walsegg's possession at the time of his death.
üssmayr began his completion by copying Mozart's original particella (
after the Dies Irae
) to fresh music paper and supplying his own completion as well as adding timpani and trumpets to the Kyrie
and completing the existing eight measures of the Lacrymosa
. He also composed the Sanctus
and Agnus Dei
entirely on his own. A highly speculative aspect of the Süssmayr completion concerns the "little scraps of paper" given to him by Constanze and thought to be sketches for the Requiem, possibly for the Sanctus
and Agnus Dei
. Only one such sketch has ever surfaced, discovered by Wolfgang Plath in 1960, and contains sketches of the Rex Tremendae
and an Amen fugue for the Lacrymosa
. Some analysists believe that the thematic content of those sections long attributed to Süssmayr bear a strong relationship to the rest of the Requiem indicating that he may have used other sketches to write those sections.
onstanze's choice of Süssmayr to finish the requiem has been vigorously debated since the nineteenth century, with two opposing views dominating the discussion. One argument holds that with his close association to Mozart in his last days and the fact he received instructions on the requiems completion, he should have been Constanze's first choice all along. Proponents of this view generally find Süssmayr's completion acceptable. Another argument contends that Süssmayr's completion is unsatisfactory and contains errors and idioms uncharacteristic of Mozart. Others contend that he received very little guidance from the dying Mozart and that comments to that affect by Constanze and Süssmayr are patently false. Either way, Süssmayr would claim the lion's share of the requiem's completion and the Mozart requiem generally known to audiences today is in fact, Süssmayr's completion though modern completions are now making an appearance.
hat a masterpiece as lofty as Mozart's Requiem is not entirely his creation is disturbing to many. Adding to the dilemma is the fact that many, if not most, learn of Süssmayr's involvement only after the Requiem has become familiar to them. Reconciling this dilemma can be viewed a number of ways. First, if one views the Requiem in the context of its history, accepting Süssmayr's involvement in its colorful past becomes a simple matter of appreciating its unorthodox origins. Some can't accept that. Another view is to simply omit the Sanctus
and Agnus Dei
from performance since these are not Mozart. A precedent for this view would be Mozart's Great c minor Mass which was also left incomplete and is performed in that state. Yet another and very drastic view is to scrap Süssmayr's completion and start over. Several musicologists and composers have taken this approach and include Franz Beyer, Richard F. Maunder, Robert D. Levin, H. C. Robbins Landon, Duncan Druce, and Simon Andrews. Maunder and Levin have gone so far as to complete the Amen fugue recently discovered as a fragment and place it at the end of the Lacrymosa
. This approach however, forces the listener to evaluate a particular version against a well known standard and clouds enjoyment of the piece by having to choose a preference from a multitude of versions.
nd what of Count Walsegg, whose fame with his friends was predicated on deception? Had he not commissioned the Requiem it would never have been written. Or, if Mozart had finished it, he would have turned it over to Walsegg in which case the Requiem would have been attributed to Walsegg and very likely would have vanished forever. As bizarre as the circumstances are, without them there would be no Mozart's Requiem, K 626.
Grand Junction, CO
Please, do not alter Subject Line.
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1991 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GambH & Co, Munchen, Bärenreiter Verlag
, Mozart's Requiem: On Preparing a New Edition
1988 Oxford University Press, Oxford
H. C. Robins Landon
, 1791 Mozart's Last Year
1988 Schirmer Books, New York Originally published by Thames and Hudson, Ltd, London
, Mozart, A Life
1995, Harper Collins Publications, New York.
, Reinhard G. Pauly
, Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem
1991, Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon.
, Experts, including CU professor, rule out foul play in the death of Mozart
, Cornell Chronicle, Feb. 2000, Cornell University.
Bruce Cooper Clarke
, The Requiem's Inception: Footnote to a Footnote
, MD. PhD.; Andreas Weigl
, PhD.; Andrew Steptoe
, DSc. The Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: An Epidemiologic Perspective
. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2009, 151: 274-278.