Chorale to sing Mozart’s unfinished “Requiem”


Dr. Warren Cook leads a Chorale practice. Photo: Ethan Rogers

After practicing for three hours per week since the beginning of the semester, the University’s 50-voice Chorale will sing Mozart’s mysterious, incomplete Requiem Oct. 31 in War Memorial Chapel.

The Requiem is incomplete because it does not contain all of the traditional parts of a hymn, including the Sanctus (a hymn of praise beginning with “holy, holy, holy”) and the Benedictus (a continuation of the Sanctus). Despite these missing pieces, the composition was mostly complete before Mozart’s death.

Dr. Warren Cook, director of the Chorale, said, “All the voice parts are written in. All the string, wind and brass parts are written in. And then there are other places where [Mozart] just sketched it out much like an architect might draw out a pencil drawing on a napkin and hand it to somebody.”

Many theories and mysteries surround the completion of the work, but we know that Constanze, Mozart’s widow, allowed musician Franz Xaver Süssmayr to complete Requiem. What we do not know for sure is whether Süssmayr completed the piece with his own ideas or with Mozart’s sketches.

Regardless of the discrepancies, Requiem is a beautiful piece featuring a chorus with four soloists, strings, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, trombones, timpani and organ.

“[Requiem] is often classified as one of the three greatest choral works, and everyone needs to sing it if they’re a serious choral musician,” Cook said.

While the length of the song depends on the edition as well as the director’s interpretation, the Chorale will be performing Richard Maunder’s 1988 version, which is about 40 minutes long.

Even if you are not a serious musician, Cook encourages you to be in the audience. “If you think that everyone should see the Boston Red Sox play one time, and everyone should see the Statue of Liberty, and everyone should—if possible—go up in the Eiffel Tower, then everyone should experience this bit of Western culture as well, which is a monumental and significant work in the catalog of Mozart. It [Requiem] will teach you and delight you as all great art does.”

The Chorale will have identical performances at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tickets are free and available in the Gustafson Fine Arts Center Music Library or at Programs & Productions.