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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mozart Requiem


This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, celebrating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jeruselem several days before his death and resurrection.  Our church service was magnificent.  That evening, we went back to our church to enjoy the Concert - Mozart Requiem - performed by the MUMC Sanctuary Choir, the Charlotte Latin School Concert Choir, and members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.

If you love Mozart as I do, you will appreciate this bit of historical background on the Requiem:

Mozart Mozart was a busy man during the late summer and fall of 1791, racing to fulfill a stack of commissions.  La Clemenza di Tito premiered in Prague on September 6, and three weeks later The Magic Flute debuted in Vienna.  In October he finished his Clarinet Concerto, and on November 18, in probably his last public appearance, he conducted a new cantata for his Masonic lodge.  He died on December 5.

After all this activity, only one major work lay on his desk unfinished at the time of his death: the Requiem.  Much romance and mystery have surrounded this work and its supposed connection with the composer's own death; but they largely dissipate when we concentrate on the facts that we know.

Mozart set to work on the Requiem in October.  his many letters from this period to his wife Constanze are teasing, full of high spirits, love and affection -- not, as some tales imply, those of a man paralyzed with fear over his own impending death.  He was actively planning trips to England and Russia, negotiating commissions, and more.  Nothing even suggests teh onset of a serious illness until the middle of November.


In that month, a viral epidemic swept through Vienna.  On November 20, Mozart took to his bed and survived only two more weeks.  The Requiem remained unfinished simply because among Mozart's many commissions all due on top of one another, it was the next on the list to complete.  The autograph manuscripts show no signs of haste or fatigue in what we know Mozart completed himself. Right to the end, it seems, Mozart had no idea that he was soon to die.

Before he died, Mozart was able to finish only the Requiem's opening movement, the Requiem aeternam, and a bit of the middle sections.  After his death, Mozart's wife, Constanze pleaded with Mozart's pupil, Franz Xaver Sussmayr to complete the work.  He completed the Requiem in February 1792.

In the end, we are mistaken to believe that Mozart's Requiem is incomplete because of foul play or Mozart's fear of impending death.  To him the Requiem was simply the next work, the next commission.  He could not have known that it would be his last and that he would not live to bring it to completion.  All Mozart or only snippets of Mozart, it truly matters not, for this Requiem is without a doubt a masterpiece of sublime choral and instrumental brilliance.

This concert experience brought me to tears.  I am proud to be a member of a church that brings us all closer to the Lord through its services, music, and choral experience.  I hope you have time to sit back and listen to and enjoy Mozart's Requiem as performed by the MUMC Sanctuary Choir, the Charlotte Latin School Concert Choir, and members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.

I just wanted to share ... May the Lord bless all during this Holy Week.


A wonderful concert at my church! Featuring the Matthews United Methodist Church Sanctuary Choir, the Charlotte Latin School Concert Choir, and members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Peter Leo, conductor.

This performance took place at the MUMC on the evening of April 17, 2011 for the beginning of Holy Week. Enjoy!


Note: Big Bear did the videotaping. Just thought I would throw that in there.

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