The history of Mozart’s Requiem is so universally familiar that only a few general remarks are necessary. As Christoph Wolff rightly says, on page 10 of his study of the Requiem*: “by circa 1800, the history of the Requiem was already essentially familiar in its major outlines, and since that time – once we have added a few details which have been subsequently established – it can be summarized in an largely objective account.” This is the essence of that account: Franz Graf Walsegg zu Stuppach commissioned Mozart to compose a Requiem for his wife, who had died young. He paid the composer a fee of 50 ducats. Mozart began work, but because of illness and his early death (5 December 1791), he could not complete the composition. In fact, not a single movement of the Requiem has come down to us as Mozart intended. The composer, as he always did in his vocal compositions, began by writing out the vocal parts and instrumental bass line, with scanty indications for string and woodwind parts. He laid out an orchestration consisting of two basset horns, two bassoons, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, strings, and organ. That does not necessarily mean that Mozart might not have added other instruments to some of the movements, for example by substituting clarinets for the basset horns, or adding parts for flutes or oboes in some movements. (The wide-ranging differences in orchestration throughout Die Zauberflte, completed in September 1791, support this assumption).
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