ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Lancaster Chorale Join Forces for Mozart's Stunning Requiem

Oct 31, 2017

ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, the Lancaster Chorale, and soloists present Mozart's Requiem Nov. 4 and 5 at the Southern Theatre. Music Director David Danzmayr has teamed that work with Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra by Osvaldo Golijov, which makes for an intriguing combination.

Mozart would not live to complete his Requiem, but his wife Constanze made certain it was placed in capable hands of Joseph Eybler and Franz Xaver Süssmayr, among others. While not the musical equal of Mozart, they understood his thought processes and did their best to bring his work to fruition.

ProMusica Principal Cellist Marc Moskovitz, who writes the program notes for each performance, sets the scene...

Several others, then, literally had their hands in the work, as is evident by the handwriting styles found on the autographs. Mozart’s student, Jacob Freystädtler, and composer-colleague Franz Xaver Süssmayr, filled in some of the details early on, including the string doubling of the vocal lines and the completion of the trumpet and timpani parts. After Mozart’s death, his wife Constanze, fearing that the entire commission might be lost, sought additional help to see the Requiem through to completion. Maximilian Stadler and Joseph Eybler both took steps to this end but Constanze wavered [sic], and she ultimately placed the score once more in Süssmayr’s hands. 100 days after her husband’s death, Süssmayr returned it to her, complete.

A conductor and respected composer in his own right, Süssmayr was, most importantly, intimately familiar with both Mozart and his music. He had not only served as copyist for Mozart’s final operas but is believed to have composed a number of recitatives for La Clemenza di Tito. And according to Süssmayr, he had “often played and sung the completed parts through with Mozart, who had very often discussed with him the completion of the work and the course of his instrumentation with his reasons.” 

I spoke with ProMusica Music Director David Danzmayr about Mozart's musical finale, and what it took - and takes - to give it life.

Marc Moskovitz sums up beautifully what it is that draws us to Mozart's Requiem.

In the end, while we may lament that Mozart did not live to complete his swansong, there remains something rather intriguing about the Requiem ultimately being the product of several composers, characters who revered Mozart’s work at a time when many failed to recognize his genius, and who were honored to provide what they could to ensure one of his last works not be abandoned.

Mozart's Requiem and Golijov's Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra are performed Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4th and 5th, at the Southern Theatre. Visit promusicacolumbus.org for details.