"Requiem per Me": Antonio Salieri's Plans for His Funeral

By Hettrick, Jane Schatkin | Sacred Music, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

"Requiem per Me": Antonio Salieri's Plans for His Funeral


Hettrick, Jane Schatkin, Sacred Music


Antonio Salieri composed a Requiem Mass in 1804 for his own obsequies twenty-one years before his death in 1825. Advance preparation of funeral music by a composer for himself is an unusual act. One other composer who did this was Guillaume Dufay, who left instructions in his will for the performance of his Requiem pro defunctis (1) on the day after his funeral. Of course, there are examples of a Requiem commissioned by a patron, which, because of circumstances, took on a personal meaning for the composer.

Here, we think of Mozart and possibly Michael Haydn. As Haydn composed his Requiem for Count Schrattenbach, who died in December, 1771, he surely thought of his only daughter, who had died earlier that year before reaching the age of one.

Salieri's reasons for writing his death mass at this point in his life are unclear. Rudolph Angermuller believes it to be "his way of withdrawing from public life as a composer," (2) citing the end of his operatic work and his turn to church music and more intimate forms. So, did a retirement from the hurly-burly world of opera prompt him to contemplate his own mortality and think about his funeral service? Possibly. At the same time, religious faith may have motivated Salieri to anticipate his departure from the temporal world and to prepare for his entry into the next world. Evidence for this is examined below.

He also may have had in mind the fate of Florian Leopold Gassmann, his mentor and predecessor as Hofkapellmeister. Gassmann died prematurely, like Mozart, leaving his Requiem Mass incomplete. It has been suggested that Gassmann, who had been ill for at least a year before his death, was thinking of it for himself. (3) One can also believe that Joseph Eybler's masterful setting of the Requiem, written in 1803, affected Salieri as well. Eybler, who became Vice-Kapellmeister in June 1804, enjoyed the special patronage of Empress Marie Therese, who commissioned numerous works from him. She requested the Requiem for a commemoration of the death of Emperor Leopold II (d. 1792). Salieri, whose music seemingly did not interest the Empress, probably attended the performance of this work. Eybler's masterwork perhaps inspired him, although the lack of favor by the Empress must have pained him. While Eybler was the more experienced composer of church music, Salieri was, after all, the imperial Kapellmeister.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In this capacity for thirty-six years, Salieri probably directed the liturgy of the Todesmesse numerous times. The court celebrated not only actual funeral Masses, but kept a regular cycle of memorial Seelenmessen, that is, anniversary Requiem Masses commemorating late monarchs, their families, other royal personages and dignitaries, as well as members of knightly orders, such as the Stephansordensritter and Sternkreuzordensdamen. (4) The annual liturgy of Allerseelen on November 2 also called for a Requiem Mass. Between 1820 and 1900, Requiem Masses were performed in the Hofkapelle 641 times. (5)

Although comparable records for most of Salieri's tenure as Hofkapellmeister are not extant, we may be sure that this practice was equally common, if not more so. Court music collections include a great number of Requiem settings by musicians affiliated with the Hofkapelle and also by "outside" composers. Among the former are Georg Reutter (at least four), Giuseppe Bonno (four), and Josef Krottendorfer (one). "Local" non-court composers included Leopold Hoffmann, Joseph Preindl, Johann Hasse, and Christoph Sonnleithner. (6)

The one-year anniversary Seelenmesse for Gluck, whose actual funeral had been conducted in silence, took place in 1788 under Salieri's direction. (7) For this important service, the newly-appointed Kapellmeister chose the Requiem by Niccolo Jommelli, perhaps because it was the most widely performed Requiem setting of the time. Another Requiem produced by Salieri took place during the Congress of Vienna, for which, as Hofkapellmeister, he had charge of the musical activities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"Requiem per Me": Antonio Salieri's Plans for His Funeral
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.