Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem

Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem

Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem

Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem

Excerpt

Autographs of great men and women often have been treasured, for various reasons. The autograph of Mozart's Requiem is no exception. An autograph of a famous person can be a cherished object, a relic almost in the religious sense, associated with an individual who was admired, loved, indeed worshipped. Such a piece of writing, no matter how short, can be a tangible link to a great person, living or dead. For many people the word "autograph" means a mere signature; collecting autographs is a popular hobby.

A more extensive autograph, such as a score in a composer's handwriting, can have even greater emotional significance for the beholder. Brahms once was greatly moved when studying a Schubert autograph. He noted that some grains of sand (used in those days for blotting wet ink) were still adhering to the manuscript -- sand that Schubert had sprinkled on it with his own hand!

Aside from having such emotional values, an autograph can also provide valuable information for the musician who is eager to get to the source, especially in the case of music written centuries ago. Many performers want to find out just what the composer put on paper; not only the notes but also dynamics, phrasing, and other markings communicating the composer's intentions and affecting our performance.

In the story of Mozart's Requiem and its autograph, all these attitudes are involved. As Friedrich Blume observed, "Mozart died at the very moment his music began to achieve popularity." His last opera, The Magic Flute (1791), was his first work to achieve international acclaim. The incomplete Requiem, begun in the same year, soon acquired a special place in the world of music, in part . . .

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