Mozart Diary: Summer 1791

Ahead of our performance of Mozart’s Requiem on 14 November at St John’s Smith Square, we’ll be looking at the mystery and intrigue behind this most popular piece, left unfinished when Mozart died, in our weekly Mozart Diary.

Summer 1791

I have received the most mysterious commission, brought to me by a stranger who would not give me his name. This anonymous messenger, dressed in a hooded, grey robe, called at my quarters (where I had been muddling over some particularly tricky orchestrations for Die Zauberflöte) and demanded that I compose a Requiem for an individual whom he refused to reveal. Handing over 30 ducats, half the total commission, with the balance to be given upon completion, the man vanished. I am not to know or enquire about the individual who has commissioned this Requiem from me.

And the situation became stranger still; on our recent trip to Prague I saw the saw the sinister figure again! Constanze, Süssmayr and I were about to board our coach when suddenly, as if from nowhere, the grey messenger appeared and tugged at my wife’s coat, demanding for an update on the progress of the Requiem. I, of course, updated the man who once again, refused to impart any information about the commission. Who is this mysterious grey messenger?

I am haunted. I cannot sleep, nor eat, and the grey messenger appears in my every thought, mocking me with his cold, staring eyes. Such strange feelings have come over me and as I continue to work by day and night, I feel increasingly sure that this commission has come to me from the supernatural. This is going to be a great work, I know it, yet I can’t help but feel a little anxious every time I put my quill to manuscript…

Mozart Requiem
Wednesday 14 November, 7.30pm
St John’s Smith Square

Tickets from £15
Box Office: 020 7222 1061 /sjss.org.uk

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