Mozart Diary: September 1791

Here’s the second installment of our weekly Mozart Diary. Ahead of our performance of Mozart’s Requiem on 14 November at St John’s Smith Square, we are examining the mystery and intrigue behind this most popular piece. This week Mozart’s been feeling a little under the weather…

I have this moment returned from the Opera, which was as full as ever. My newest opera, Die Zauberflöte is proving to be a great success and has lifted my spirits after a restless summer. My friends and relatives have been most complimentary of my recent work and I am pleased see the opera receive such acclaim. September has been a productive month and I am nearing completion of my Clarinet Concerto, yet I am frequently weakened by the most crippling bouts of illness.

And now to my Requiem; this is going to be a brilliant composition, perhaps even the best of my career, and I have already made good progress with my sketches for the Dies Irae and Kyrie. However, my diminishing health prevents me from completing any drafts and I have fainted multiple times whilst working. No matter how ridiculous I appear, I am convinced that my ill health is linked to this mysterious commission. If, in the first place, I was haunted by the image of the Grey Hooded Messenger, now I am haunted and cursed by my own Requiem!

Constanze has little sympathy and believes that I am making myself ill with my own fanciful delusions. How could a Requiem be the cause of my ailments? She is convinced that I am the victim of a fever, which has recently struck down some of our friends and relatives, but I cannot agree! I have been commissioned to write a Mass for the Dead and the more I write, the closer I feel to death.

If I dare say it, I feel as though this anonymous commission to write a Requiem for the dead comes as a warning of my own impending death.

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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