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Thread: Is Sussmayr's completion of Mozart's Requiem really that bad?

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    Senior Member DrKilroy's Avatar
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    Default Is Sussmayr's completion of Mozart's Requiem really that bad?

    This particular completion is the most popular and often criticised for being unmozartian (sure, Mozart would have written it much better, but he didn't). My question is, do you really find it unejoyable? Sanctus is not really my favourite, but I like Agnus Dei and Lux Aeterna sections quite much.

    Also, do you know any other completions? How do they compare to Sussmayr's one?

    Thanks and best regards, Dr
    HASTINGS: Why don't you get yourself some turned down collars, Poirot? They're much more the thing, you know.
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    Senior Member drpraetorus's Avatar
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    I'm not familiar with other completions. I think Sussmayr is as close as we will get to the intentions of Mozrt as he was his pupil and Mozart discussed the Requiem with him. I have two versions of the Requiem. One conducted by Daniel Barenboim and one conducted by George Solti. The Solti is a live recording of a requiem service using Mozarts music and Mozart as the subject of the requiem mass. Aside from the interpretation differences such as tempo etc. the main difference is in the orchestration. As I understand it, the orchestration is one of the major issues in reconstruction of the requiem. The Barenboim usesd a larger instrument list than the Solti.

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    Senior Member DrKilroy's Avatar
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    Oh yes, I forgot about it. One thing is the orchestration of existing movements, another - composing new ones. As far as I am concerned, the first aspect, though not done perfectly, doesn't bother me.

    Best regards, Dr
    HASTINGS: Why don't you get yourself some turned down collars, Poirot? They're much more the thing, you know.
    POIROT: The turned down collar is the first sign of decay of the grey cells!

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I think Beethoven is reputed to have said that if it wasn't composed by Mozart then the man who composed i was a Mozart. I don't think (if Beethoven did say that) that he was right but all the same Sussmayr did a pretty good job. He was in the very best position to know what Mozart wanted and even though Mozart would have completed it much better we can be thankful to have what we have of the requiem.

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    The Sanctus sucks because he uses too much direct motion and it's in a sharp key and it's boring overall.

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    Senior Member DrKilroy's Avatar
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    I have to agree with you. Benedictus is quite nice, in my opinion, I even found myself humming its tune once!

    Best regards, Dr
    HASTINGS: Why don't you get yourself some turned down collars, Poirot? They're much more the thing, you know.
    POIROT: The turned down collar is the first sign of decay of the grey cells!

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    Senior Member Bone's Avatar
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    Not a fan. Love some of it, but dislike enough of it to register it in my "not essential listening" category (HUGE category).

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    Senior Member Jerome's Avatar
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    I have to agree that Sussmayr was in the best position to understand the master's intentions. Of course Mozart would have done better, but Sussmayr's work stays out of the way and allows us to appreciate what Mozart left us. Anything more ambition be disrespectful, in my opinion. And let's not forget the fact that the Requiem, with Sussmayr's completion, is good enough to rank among Mozart's most popular works.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Fools rush in... Eybler was given the job of finishing the Requiem first, but gave up. Sussmayr stuck with it and did OK by most accounts. At least Constanze got her payment...


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    Senior Member trazom's Avatar
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    I posted an article written by a professor who's closely studied the work. He said there were at least three other composers that worked on the completion besides Sussmayr, that there are parts in the Agnus Dei that Sussmayr couldn't have possibly written without divine intervention(fugal writing that quotes earlier parts of the work), and that those who did work on the requiem spent much of their time correcting Sussmayr's mistakes, ones that I guess broke some pretty fundamental rules that even a competent composer would know.

    Basically, Sussmayr's contribution to the Requiem is overrated.

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    Senior Member Notung's Avatar
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    I cannot compare whether it is better than others (haven't heard them), but on its own terms it is great. When I listen to it, I barely remember that Mozart didn't finish it. My opinion will probably be contested by the more technically literate, but to my ears, it is perfectly good.

    Regarding the statements about several composers working on it, that could (and probably) be. Whether it was one or one-hundred, it is still a good completion.
    "Blessed be your suffering"-Wagner, Parsifal

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    Senior Member Celloman's Avatar
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    Didn't Salieri finish Mozart's Requiem for him? That's what happened in the Amadeus film.

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    No, nor did Salieri act as Mozart's amanuensis. Nor did Salieri poison Mozart. (In fact, the cause of Mozart's death is uncertain). Considering how Mozart (at least in Amadeus) seemed to enjoy poking fun at Salieri, I doubt that he would have been a choice to complete the work. Having both heard and sung the work, I find the ending seamless. It would be interesting, though, if Mozart had finished the Requiem, how it might differ from what we have. (It would also say something about how much Sussmayr learned from Mozart).

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    Senior Member trazom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rborganist View Post
    No, nor did Salieri act as Mozart's amanuensis. Nor did Salieri poison Mozart. (In fact, the cause of Mozart's death is uncertain). Considering how Mozart (at least in Amadeus) seemed to enjoy poking fun at Salieri, I doubt that he would have been a choice to complete the work. Having both heard and sung the work, I find the ending seamless. It would be interesting, though, if Mozart had finished the Requiem, how it might differ from what we have. (It would also say something about how much Sussmayr learned from Mozart).
    The ending is the music from the opening Introitus and Kyrie that was written by Mozart, though, isn't it? The real Mozart liked poking fun at Sussmayr, too, calling him an "Ox" a "dumb boob" and a "court jester" in some of his letters, but he meant it affectionately.
    Last edited by trazom; Oct-22-2013 at 21:04.

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    I think that Sussmayr did a credible job and compared to Mozart, that'a about all anyone could expect.

    When I sang the Requiem last, we had benefit of some newly discovered passages that were available from the Mozarteum. They were principally a few measures here and there that continued the finale of the larger choral pieces a bit, not a great change but authentic.

    Singing the Mozart Requiem is a delight, as you can imagine. Great choral music has the 3 stages of enjoyment: 1- a good recording, 2- a good live performance, 3- actually being on stage and singing it!

    The Kyrie does things to your insides, as does singing any great fugal number. It's like being squeezed and intently electrified, and as the musical tension mounts, your whole body is charged with energy. There are few pleasures on stage that equate to singing a great choral work.

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