Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Ave Verum Corpus
“Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”
— Franz Joseph Haydn
on the death of Mozart
The Singers last performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus on November 3, 2001, as an encore memorial to the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks (listen to that performance). That concert, our first performance after the events of September 11, also included Mozart’s Requiem.
Ave Verum Corpus is among the most frequently performed short works in the choral canon. Mozart finished the composition in June 1791, less than six months before his death, a time of mounting debts and failing health. The text, a short Communion hymn, dates to the 14th century and is attributed to Pope Innocent VI.
Although the text focuses on crucifixion and death, Ave Verum Corpus was not intended for Lent and the passion season. It is traditionally part of the “Corpus Christi” festival in the Trinity season, the non-ceremonial part of the church year. The idea that suffering, hardship, sorrow, and pain might somehow hint at more profound joys to come — the hymn’s praegustatum in mortis examine, a foretaste of eternal paradise in the trials of death — has been a traditional source of comfort and an answer to questions about the presence of suffering and evil in the world.