“Lacrimosa” from Mozart’s Requiem: what might it tell us about his frame of mind?

Mozart left around 150 pieces in limbo, many as draft scores (like the Requiem) in which the solo or vocal parts were more advanced than the instrumental sections.

The story of Mozart’s final struggle with the Requiem has often been told. The only surviving witness to these final events is the autograph score which, unlike the composer, lived on – as Mozart’s friends and pupils tried to breathe life into its blank spaces.

Mozart managed just eight bars of the “Lacrimosa”, written in a quick, steady hand with no signs of infirmity. The final page shows the bare choral parts rising in halting, breathy phrases to a climax before being tragically and suddenly cut short. Just as poignant are the last two bars for the sopranos (circled in pencil) which were all that Mozart’s friend Josef Eybler could bring himself to add.

The Requiem was eventually finished by Mozart’s pupil Sȗsmayr and first performed in Vienna in January 1793 to raise money for his widow and son.

Come and hear his Requiem on 28 March!