Mozart Requiem WolffChristoff Wolff
Mozart’s Requiem
Historical and Analitycal Studies, Documents, Score

University of California Press, 1998

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While not presenting itself as a definitive study on the genesis of the most famous Requiem in music history, this monograph by Christoph Wolff tries to bring some clarity on the composition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last masterpiece.

Through a meticulous investigation of the manuscript of the Requiem and of documentary sources, Wolff traces the history of the Requiem, paying attention to the compositional process adopted by Mozart, and then focuses on the state of the score at the time of his death (the composer had already completed the four voices and the basso numerato). It is paid particular attention to the way of proceeding of those who completed the score, especially Franz Xaver Süssmayr. Wolff offers an example of his imitation of Mozart’s work (the Rondo for Horn), establishing a precedent that could be useful when you observe the Requiem. However, it is impossible to define the degree to which the sketches left by Mozart influenced the final structure of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, which in the autograph are completely in Süssmayr’s hand.

The second part of the book analyses the features of the score, giving some important clues about orchestration, harmony and the relationship between the words of the text and the development of musical ideas. The third part contains some interesting testimonies of contemporaries, useful to clarify some points of the dispute on the Requiem, which exploded in the early decades of the XIX century.

The book ends presenting the score of the Requiem, based on the Leopold Nowak edition published in 1964-5 for the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, but with some modifications to highlight the “fragmentary” structure of the Requiem.

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