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Mozart’s Requiem Analysis

1429 words - 6 pages

Mozart’s Requiem is “one of the most performed and studied pieces of music in history” (Stango, n.d.). The story behind the start of this piece begins with Count Franz von Walsegg, who commissioned a requiem mass for his wife Anna (who had passed away). Throughout his work on this piece, Mozart began to get so emotionally involved with the piece that he believed that he was writing a death mass for himself. Mozart died December 5, 1791, with only half of the Requiem finished (through Lacrimosa). Franz Xaver Süssmayr finished the Requiem based on Mozart’s specifications from notes and what he had already written. The completed work is dated 1792 by Süssmayr and was performed for the first time on January 2, 1793. Mozart’s intent for this mass was specifically for church ceremony, but recently, the Requiem has been used and performed at concerts to showcase Mozart’s musical brilliance (Stango, n.d.).
And a musical genius Mozart was indeed! As I analyzed this piece, I was continually struck by his following of major voice leading and counterpoint rules. The times Mozart did break away from the standard were masterfully done, engaging to the ear, and he was always able to bring us back home. In this paper I will share with you what I learned about Mozart’s Requiem, Domine Jesu measures 1 through 43. I will start with the big picture and whittle it down to the minute details.
The parts of this piece written by Mozart are the Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass and Cello/Organ parts. Sussmayr wrote the Corni di Basseto, Fagotti, Trombone (alto, tenor, and bass), Violin 1 and 2 and Viola. The part of this piece I was given is written in the key signature of Bb major and G minor, however it modulates to C minor at measure 9, Ab major at measure 15, D minor at measure 26 and eventually, after some linking chords, back to G minor in measure 32 (Kemme, 2009, p. 89). Domine Jesu in mass is part of the Offertory, which is a petition for the salvation of others, including those already departed, and the lyrics reflect that. They translate to “Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit. Deliver them from the lion's mouth. Neither let them fall into darkness nor the black abyss swallow them up. And let St. Michael, Thy standard-bearer, lead them into the holy light which once Thou didst promise to Abraham and his seed” (“Full Text Lyrics,” n.d.). I was asked to explain why the Corni di Bassetto is the only instrument not in the key of Bb/g. This is because the Corni di Bassetto, a basset horn, is in F, a perfect fifth below concert pitch. Everything the Corni di Bassetto plays sounds a perfect fifth below the written note.
Getting down to some smaller details, I have Neapolitan chords, nonchord tones, voice leading, sequences, elisions, and imitation to discuss. In measure 12, beat 1, there is a major chord built on the lowered second scale degree of C minor. This chord is a...

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