Today’s post is in answer to a request by my sweety.
Earlier this week we were watching the final episode of BBC TV’s Peaky Blinders when a familiar sacred work played, the Lacrimosa movement from the Requiem In D Minor, K. 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). When the music finished, she said, “That’s got to be your song of the day for a Sunday.”
Like his Mass in C Minor, Mozart’s Requiem is a brilliant, evocative work; both are well-known and often played. The Requiem was commissioned in early 1791 by the Austrian aristocrat Count Franz von Walsegg after the death of his wife that year. Walsegg intended for it to be used in a requiem mass that would mark the first anniversary of her passing. The work was unfinished when Mozart died in December and was completed by Austrian conductor and composer Franz Xaver Sussmayr (1766-1803).
An article in Wikipedia says that Mozart’s handwriting ends eight bars into the Lacrimosa. It also speculates on Sussmayr’s completion of the entire mass: “Walsegg probably intended to pass the Requiem off as his own composition, as he is known to have done with other works. This plan was frustrated by a public benefit performance for Mozart’s widow Constanze. She was responsible for a number of stories surrounding the composition of the work, including the claims that Mozart received the commission from a mysterious messenger who did not reveal the commissioner’s identity, and that Mozart came to believe that he was writing the requiem for his own funeral.
“In addition to the Sussmayr version, a number of alternative completions have been developed by composers and musicologists in the 20th and 21st centuries.”
The Lacrimosa is the final of six movements in the Sequentia (or sequence, meaning a sacred chant or hymn) section, the third of eight sections of the Requiem. Directors use this particular movement to great effect in the scene depicting Mozart’s death and burial in Milos Forman’s film Amadeus (1984) and in the finale of Peaky Blinders. The beauty of the music is equalled by its depth and solemnity and the drama it adds to a setting.
Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.
Here is a performance of the Lacrimosa by the Berlin Philharmoniker under the direction of Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (1933-2014) on the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel. The Requiem performance features soloists sopranos Rachel Harnisch and Karita Mattila, contralto Sara Mingardo, tenor Michael Schade, and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel.
Is there music, from classical or other genres, that you’d like me to feature? Drop me a line in the comments or the Contact page!