Robert L. Edwards, Conductor, Consultant, Photographer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart “Requiem”

Mozart portraitIt may surprise you to learn that the prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not very unique in his day. There were literally hundreds of prodigies circling throughout Europe at that time. Maybe it was something in the water. In any case, for reasons yet unknown, W.A. Mozart’s star continued to shine and he, apart from so many others, grew and developed his gifted genius. I am convinced that had he lived, even a few more years, it would have been he, not Beethoven, who kick-started the Romantic era in music. There are abundant signs in his last works, Don Giovanni, Clarinet Concerto and the almost completed Requiem, that Mozart was already developing the new musical concepts that came to be known as Romanticism. Unlike his early and middle classic works, these pieces need to be performed with an eye to the future, not the past. There is another unique quality about his Requiem that I find goes mostly overlooked: He made specific nods to previous musical eras, Renaissance and Baroque, along with the Classical as well as the yet-to-arrive Romantic periods. He knew this work was a summation, and he included nods to his predecessors while pointing the way to the future. (That Dies Irae really does foreshadow Verdi’s with its sense of drama!) So any performance of this work needs to recognize the stylistic performance practices of all those eras where it is appropriate in the score.

Mozart Requiem excerpts
 - Live Performance
- Greater Hazleton Oratorio Society, Sinfonia da Camera
Robert L. Edwards
- 1982

It is time that we lay to rest the exaggerated importance of Süssmayr's contribution to this Requiem. “...and his pupil Süssmayr completed the great Requiem in a hand so similar to his master's that one cannot tell where teacher stopped and pupil began.” Nonsense! Balderdash!

In 1962, the first sheet of sketches for the Requiem in Mozart's own hand was discovered by Wolfgang Platz of Augsburg. Eight sections from the Dies irae through the Hostias were carefully and completely sketched by Mozart. Only the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus dei were constructed from notes and verbal instructions given to Süssmayr directly by Mozart. This discovery, along with the use of modern stylistic analysis, led to the conclusion that of the missing parts of the Requiem, very little of the music was composed by anyone other than Mozart! This relegates most standard “scholarly versions” to the list of questionable editions along with the many speculative and "reconstruction" versions.

Obviously, the Requiem we know would have been different had Mozart lived, but we should not speculate, but rather revel in the greatness of what exists.

One more point: I am convinced that there should be no break (i.e. there should be a segue) between the Kyrie and the Dies Irae. Stopping at that point breaks the momentum. That grand fugue that out-fugues Händel, or any other Baroque composer except Bach, leads directly into the emotion and dramatic color of the Dies Irae.

In order to provide permanent documentation of the important sociological and musical contributions of the Greater Hazleton Oratorio Society, Singers’ Guild of Scranton and Sinfonia da Camera to the lives of residents in Northeastern Pennsylvania, some of the 1977-1986 live performance analog recordings of these community groups were rescued, restored, and converted to a digital format. Those restorations and the performance excerpts that appear on this website are intended as historical documents not as an entertainment product. The copying or dissemination of these excerpts is strictly prohibited.

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