Composers Datebook®

Mozart's 'Requiem' premieres in Vienna

Composers Datebook - 20231210
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Synopsis

Wolfgang Mozart died on Dec. 5, 1791, leaving behind an unfinished Requiem Mass, commissioned anonymously by Count Franz von Walsegg, a 28-year-old Austrian nobleman who had the ignoble habit of passing off works he commissioned as his own. The Requiem was intended to be a memorial to the count’s 20-year-old wife, Anna, who had died earlier that year.

Mozart’s wife, Constanza, arranged for some of Mozart’s pupils to complete the unfinished Requiem and eventually delivered it to Count Walsegg in order to receive the full commission fee promised her husband.

But just five days after Mozart’s death in 1791, the portions of the Requiem that Mozart had completed were sung at a memorial service organized by his friend and collaborator Emanuel Schikaneder.

Schikaneder was the librettist for Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute and ran his own opera house at the Theater auf der Wieden in a Viennese suburb. It was there that Mozart’s Magic Flute had premiered, and it was Schikaneder’s musicians who performed parts of Mozart’s Requiem for the first time on today’s date in 1791, at St. Michael’s Church in the center of Vienna.

Music Played in Today's Program

Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) Requiem

On This Day

Births

  • 1822 - Belgian composer and organist César Franck, in Liège;

  • 1908 - French composer and oranist Olivier Messiaen, in Avignon;

  • 1913 - American composer and conductor Morton Gould, in Richmond Hill, N.Y.;

Deaths

  • 1965 - American composer Henry Cowell, age 68, in Shady, N.Y.;

Premieres

  • 1825 - Boieldieu: opera "La dame blanche" (The White Lady), in Paris at the Opéra-Comique;

  • 1854 - Berlioz: oratorio "L'Enfance du Christ," in Paris;

  • 1886 - Chadwick: Symphony No. 2, by the Boston Symphony, with the composer conducting;

  • 1895 - Rimsky-Korsakov: opera "Christmas Eve," in St. Petersburg, Napravnik conducting (Julian date: Nov. 28);

  • 1896 - Mussorgsky: opera "Boris Godunov" (Rimsky-Korsakov version), as a concert performance at the Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Conservatory (Julian date: Nov. 28);

  • 1910 - Puccini: "La Fanciulla del West" (The Girl of the Golden West), in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera, with a cast including soprano Emmy Destinn and tenor Enrico Caruso, with Arturo Toscanini conducting;

  • 1936 - David Diamond: "Psalm" for orchestra, in Rochester, N.Y.;

  • 1937 - William Grant Still: Symphony in g, by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting;

  • 1950 - B.A. Zimmermann: Violin Concerto, in Baden-Baden, Germany;

  • 1963 - Bernstein: Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish"), at Frederic Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, by Israel Philharmonic and choirs conducted by the composer, with speaker Hannah Rovina and mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel as vocal soloist;

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

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