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March 26, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab




SRU Concert Choir presents Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ 


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The Slippery Rock University Concert Choir, directed by Stephen Barr, assistant professor of music, joins Pittsburgh’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Chancel Choir and Benedum Orchestra players in a performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” at 7 p.m., March 31, in the church.

            “The ‘Requiem’ is one of the most enigmatic pieces of music ever composed, mostly because of the myths and controversies surrounding it, especially concerning how much of the piece was completed by Mozart before his death,” Barr said.

“The Requiem Mass in D minor” was composed in Vienna during the fall of 1791 and left unfinished at the composer's death. His student/assistant, Franz Xaver Sssmayr, completed the piece and delivered it to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned it for a requiem Mass to commemorate the anniversary of his wife's death, Barr said.

“Walsegg probably intended to pass the ‘Requiem’ off as his own composition, as he is known to have done with other works. This plan was frustrated by a public benefit performance for Mozart's widow, Constanze, following the composer's death,” Barr said.

The work is cast in 12 movements for mixed chorus, soloists and orchestra and runs approximately 55 minutes. The ‘Requiem’ foreshadows what might have become a pivotal turning point in Mozart's style, had he lived. The autograph manuscript shows the finished and orchestrated first movement in Mozart's hand, as well as detailed drafts of the "Kyrie" and the sequence "Dies Irae" as far as the first nine bars of "Lacrimosa" and the "Offertory." It cannot be shown to what extent Sssmayr may have depended on now lost "scraps of paper" for the remainder; he later claimed the "Sanctus" and "Agnus Dei" as his own, Barr said.

A modern contribution to the mythology is Peter Shaffer's 1979 play "Amadeus," and the later movie adapted from it, in which the mysterious messenger with the commission for Mozart to write the ‘Requiem’ is the masked Antonio Salieri, a rival composer who intended to claim authorship for himself.  In truth, Salieri had nothing to do with it, Barr said. Mozart was not poisoned; he died of a viral epidemic that swept through Vienna that year. Much of what occurs in "Amadeus" in based more in myth than actual fact, Barr said.

St Paul's Episcopal Church is located at 1066 Washington Road, Pittsburgh.

The suggested donation for admission is $10.


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