Opus Ultimum: The Story of the Mozart Requiem

Opus Ultimum: The Story of the Mozart Requiem

Opus Ultimum: The Story of the Mozart Requiem

Opus Ultimum: The Story of the Mozart Requiem

Synopsis

The haunting beauty of Mozart's Requiem and the tragic circumstances surrounding its composition have made it a favorite among performers and listeners alike. But how much of it actually Mozart's - and how do we know? Who wrote the missing pieces? What role did his wife, Constanze, play - and what about the man who secretly commissioned the work? Who tricked whom, and who had the last laugh in this grim tale? The author, an internationally recognized expert on Mozart, traces the complex web of events and intrigue surrounding the composition of the Requiem and how it was completed after Mozart's death. In an easy-to-read style, he presents an accurate, precise, complete narrative of the dramatic story; and with a spoonful of sugar, he introduces newcomers to some of the technical problems, clues, and terminology used in reconstructing such histories.

Excerpt

First, I must express my heartfelt gratitude to Eva Einstein, the only descendant of the late and distinguished Mozart scholar, Alfred Einstein. It was she, as owner of her father’s estate, who generously granted permission to use “Opus Ultimum!” as the title of this book. Originally used by her father for a 1937 essay on the Mozart Requiem, it identifies this noble composition with a designation unmatched in subtlety and nuance.

This is certainly not the first book devoted entirely to Mozart’s last work. That honor belongs to Albert Hahn, a German smalltown music director whose 1867 volume was written to try and untangle the confusing and often contradictory elements of the work’s published history and circumstances.

This volume is not so much a book as it is the world’s longest program note about Mozart’s final and unfinished work, the Requiem. It is not necessary to state which Mozart Requiem. He wrote only one. Other compositions of this form need to be preceded by the composer’s name for full identification. There is the Verdi Requiem, the Fauré Requiem, the Berlioz Requiem, the Brahms Requiem, and many other superb and moving compositions; but Mozart’s is recognized with the simplest identification possible: TheRequiem.

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