In the All Saints’ and Souls’ issue I recommended Mozart’s Requiem, specifically the Dies Irae. I actually recommend listening to the whole thing, as this composition is one of the most beautiful and powerful songs I’ve ever heard.
A requiem is a musical composition for the mass of the dead (missa pro defunctis). The name, Requiem, comes the first word in the Eucharist liturgy – Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine” – “Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”. Requiem means rest or repose. In medieval times requiems were monophonic Gregorian chants. There are now over 2000 requiem compositions, many written for full orchestras and choirs.
I first heard Mozart’s Requiem when I was eleven, watching the film Amadeus. The film told a fictionalize story of Mozart and Salieri and how, in the end, Mozart ended up writing his own requiem. He died after only finishing 2/3rds of the work and it was completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, an Austrian composer who worked for Mozart as a copist. Süssmayr was a student of Salieri. Süssmayr died 12 years after Mozart, and, like Mozart, was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Marx cemetery in Vienna.
This weekend my church’s choir is performing Mozart’s Requiem for All Saints’ Day. I am really looking forward to hearing this music that has brought so much magic and sacredness to my life. Check and see if any of your local churches are also performing Mozart’s Requiem and try to attend. It will be a powerful experience.