Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mozart's Requiem

As part of the Bach Festival there was a choral concert at Tiedeke Concert Hall. What was unique about this performance is that the entire audience was given sheet music for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem. Music stands at the front of the hall divided the audience into three singing sections. The alto's were closest to where I stood to draw. Dr. John V. Sinclair, the Bach Festival's Artistic Director, conducted from the stage while lead singers for each section stood around him.

The requiem is absolutely sublime  and moving with so many voices raised in unison.  This music stands the test of time. Of course having a full orchestra would have made the performance even more stunning, but there is something magical in having so many voices, trained and untrained coming together to perform this piece. The entire Requiem is close to an hour long, but I think only an excerpt was performed on this evening. 

 Mozart's health faltered as he worked on the requiem. A famous anecdote from his wife, Constanze, is related in Niemetschek's early biography: On his return to Vienna, his (Mozart's) indisposition increased visibly and made him gloomily depressed. His wife was truly distressed over this. One day when she was driving in the Prater with him, to give him a little distraction and amusement, and they were sitting by themselves, Mozart began to speak of death, and declared that he was writing the Requiem for himself. Tears came to the eyes of the sensitive man: 'I feel definitely,' he continued, 'that I will not last much longer; I am sure I have been poisoned. I cannot rid myself of this idea.'

At the time of his death, Mozart had many outstanding debts, but the myth that he was buried in a pauper's grave is false.  His wife arranged to sell his compositions and over time she became financially secure. Mozart's musical reputation rose after his death with unprecedented enthusiasm for his music. This dark brooding music is the masterpiece of the child prodigy who died far too young at the age of 35. Imagine creating something so beautiful, that people still feel compelled to perform and share it over two hundred years after your death. A toast to art.

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