“thrilling to hear it live with forces as fine as the Philharmonic and the Providence Singers”
Channing Gray
Providence Journal
15 October 2016
(Mozart Requiem)


Mozart on his deadthbed
Mozart and Süßmayr
Mozart’s unfinished Requiem is shrouded in mystery and controversy. A version completed by his friend Franz Xaver Süßmayr within 100 days of Mozart’s death, quickly became the standard.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Franz Xaver Süßmayr

Requiem  (unfinished 1791; published 1799)

“To me, [the Requiem is] not the kind of piece you want to get things wrong in. Again and again scholars have rationalized why this or that bit of the piece was ‘inferior’ and therefore Süßmayr, only for later historical or analytical information to come to light which proves it had to be Mozart.”

― Conductor Kenneth Woods

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, mortally ill, was at work on the Requiem, a commission made anonymously by Count Franz von Walsegg, who likely intended to pass off the finished work as his own. When he died, December 5, 1791, Mozart had orchestrated only the first movement (Introit) and had written the vocal parts or sketched out ideas for some of the other sections.

The Requiem’s completion is rife with mystery, confusion, misleading accounts, and contradictory sources. How much of the Requiem is Mozart’s, how much was competed by various other composers working from Mozart’s sketches, or how much was created by others in what they thought would have been his style is almost impossible to know with certainty.

At least four composers worked on the commission from materials Mozart left, given access to them by Constanze, Mozart’s widow, but it was Franz Xaver Süßmayr who produced a completed Requiem within 100 days of the composer’s death. Süßmayr, once a student of Antonio Salieri and ten years Mozart’s junior, was a good friend who had worked with Mozart as a copyist on The Clemency of Titus and The Magic Flute. (Like Mozart, Süßmayr fell ill, died young — he was 38 — and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in St. Marx cemetery.)

The Süßmayr completion became the standard version, performed at a benefit for Constanze arranged by Baron Gottfried van Swieten in January 1793, presented to Count Walsegg in December 1793, and published in 1799 by Breitkopf & Härtel. It was not the only completion, however. The discovery of a sketch for a fugal Amen in 1960 led to more than a dozen efforts to produce new editions, some of which reworked the Süßmayr portions, reorchestrated parts in a more Mozartian style, or incorporated the “Amen Fugue.”

The Requiem itself, however, most often the Süßmayr completion, has had a robust performance history that includes the funerals or memorials for poets, artists, national leaders and others, among them Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Rossini, Berlioz, Schiller, Goethe, Napoleon, John F. Kennedy, and, on the 200th anniversary of his death, at a memorial mass for Mozart himself, with the Vienna Philharmonic.


I. Introitus

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem. Exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet. Requiem aeternam dona ets, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

I. Introit

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them. A hymn is becoming to you, O God, in Zion, and a vow will be performed for you in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; all flesh will come unto you. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them.

II. Kyrie
Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.

II. Kyrie
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

III. Sequentia

Dies Irae
Dies irae, dies illa solvet saeclum in favilla, teste David cum Sybilla. Quantus tremor est futurus, quando judex est venturus, cuncta stricte discussurus.

Tuba Mirum
Tuba mirum spargens sonum per sepulchra regionum, coget omnes ante thronum. Mors stupebit et natura, cum resurget creatura, judicanti responsura. Liber scriptus proferetur, in quo totum continetur, unde mundus judicetur. Judex ergo cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebit, nil inultum remanebit. Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit'securus?

Rex Tremendae
Rex tremandae maiestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.

Recordare Jesu pie, quod sum causa tuae viae, ne me perdas illa die. Quaerens me sedisti lassus, redemisti crucem passus; tantus labor non sit cassus. Juste judex ultionis, donum fac remissionis ante diem rationis. Ingemisco tanquam reus, culpa rubet vultus meus; supplicanti parce Deus. Qui Mariam absolvisti, et latronem exaudisti, mihi quoque spem dedisti. Preces meae non sum dignae, sed tu, bonus, fac benigne, ne perenni cremer igne. Inter oves locum praesta, et ab hoedis me sequestra, statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis,
    voca me cum benedictis.
Oro supplex et acclinis, cor contritum quasi cinis,
    gere curam mei finis.

Lacrymosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo reus. Huic ergo parce Deus, pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem! Amen!

III. Sequence

Dies Irae
A day of wrath, this day will consume the world in ashes as David and the Sibyl prophesied. What trembling there will be when the judge comes to weigh everything strictly.

Tuba Mirum
The trumpet, casting its dreadful sound across all graves in the region, summons everyone before the throne. Death and nature will be stupified when all creatures arise to give an account before the judge. The written book, which contains everything upon which the world is to be judged, will be brought forward. When the judge is seated, everything that has been hidden will appear, and nothing will remain unavenged. What will I, a wretch, say then? To what champion will I appeal when even a just man is hardly secure?

Rex Tremendae
King of tremendous majesty,
who freely saves the worthy —
save me, O font of pity.

Remember, gentle Jesus, that I am the cause for your time on earth. Do not cast me out on that day. Seeking me, you sank down exhausted. You saved me by enduring the cross. Such travail must not be in vain. Righteous judge of vengeance, make a gift of forgiveness before the day of reckoning. I groan as a guilty person; my face blushes with guilt. Spare the supplicant, O God. You who absolved Mary and listened to the thief, you have given me hope as well. My prayers are not worthy, but you, the good one, show mercy so I do not burn in everlasting fire. Give me a place among the sheep and separate me from the goats, placing me at your right hand.

When the damned are confounded and consigned to keen flames,
    call me with the blessed.
I pray, begging and kneeling, a heart as contrite as ashes;
    take my ending into your care.

That day is one of weeping, on which the guilty man will rise from the ashes to be judged. Therefore spare this one, O God, merciful Lord Jesus: Give them rest. Amen.

IV. Offertorium

Domine Jesu
Domine Jesu Christe! Rex gloriae! Libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu! Libera eas de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eas Tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum: sed signifer sanctus Michael repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam, quam olim Abrahae promisisti, et semini ejus.

Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus. Tu suscipe pro animabus illis, quarum hodie memoriam facimus: fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam, quam olim Abrahae promisisti, et semini ejus.

IV. Offertory

Domine Jesu
Lord Jesus Christ, king of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and the bottomless pit. Deliver them from the jaws of the lion, that hell not engulf them, that they not plunge into darkness. But let the holy standard-bearer Michael lead them into the holy light, as you once promised to Abraham and to his seed.

Lord, we offer you sacrifices and prayers with praises; accept them on behalf of those who we remember this day. Lord, make them pass from death to life, as you once promised to Abraham and to his seed.

V. Sanctus
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth!
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Osanna in excelsis.

V. Sanctus
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

VI. Benedictus
Benedictis, qui venit in nomine Domini.
Osanna in excelsis.

VI. Benedictus
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

VII. Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
    dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
    dona eis requiem sempiternam.

VII. Agnus Dei
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
    grant them rest.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
    grant them eternal rest.

VIII. Communio

Lux aeterna
Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis in aeternum, quia pius es. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

VIII. Communion

Lux aeterna
Let everlasting light shine on them with the saints in eternity, O Lord, for you are merciful. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.