Mozart composed part of the Requiem in Vienna in late 1791, but it was unfinished at his death on December 5th of the same year. A completed version dated 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who commissioned the piece for a Requiem service to commemorate the anniversary of his wife’s death on February 14.
The autograph manuscript shows the finished and orchestrated Introit in Mozart’s hand, and detailed drafts of the Kyrie and the sequence Dies Irae as far as the first eight bars of the Lacrimosa movement, and the Offertory. Süssmayr claimed the Sanctus and Agnus Dei as his own.
Walsegg wanted to pass the Requiem off as his own composition, but he was thwarted 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.
This arrangement keeps all the fury of the opening movement of the Dies Irae sequence, and is a great choice for recitals (including Halloween recitals).
Key: D minor
Mood: agitated, trembling with fear
Pedagogy: left hand octaves, right hand arpeggios, chromatic scales, dynamics