Constanze Mozart had confused everyone so much with her lies that it is no wonder that there was so much confusion going on when the “original” manuscript of the requiem was rediscovered. Actually, what the Vienna Court Library officials thought was the original manuscript actually turned out to be the delivery score. The delivery score was the manuscript that had been delivered to Count Walsegg, the commissioner, in early 1792. It comprised of the original Introit and Kyrie (the only two sections of the score that contained Mozart’s handwriting), and from the Dies Irae onward it was a copy by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, the composer who finished the requiem after Mozart’s death in 1791.
Count Moritz von Dietrichstein, a Court Library official, had asked an acquaintance, Nowack, who was a former employee of Count Walsegg (who had died in 1827), to locate six previously unknown Mozart string quartets that Constanze may have given to Walsegg. When Walsegg had first commissioned the requiem, he told Mozart that it could not be published. However, in 1798, Constanze decided to publish the requiem, totally disregarding the contract.
Walsegg had said no publication because he was trying to pass the work off as his own. When he heard of the publication, he tried to sue Constanze, but then he decided to back out. Why? Well, he would have had to show everyone the contract as proof, and then people would probably ask why he didn’t want the requiem to be published or even known to the general public. Then he’d have to explain, thus exposing his own deceit.
Musicologists disagree on how Constanze repaid Walsegg. In a letter to Gottfried Christoph Härtel, the publisher, Constanze asks him to supply twenty-five copies of published edition for Walsegg. She may also have paid Walsegg fifty ducats. But then she told people she had also given him six unknown Mozart string quartets as a way of compensation.
Were there any “unknown” Mozart string quartets? It appears to be unlikely. When Härtel was publishing the requiem, he was publishing it as part of a complete edition of Mozart’s works. If Constanze had given string quartets to Walsegg, they must have gone into the complete edition. But they were described as “previously unknown.” Besides, Constanze’s credibility, especially when she was referring to the requiem, is questionable.
As expected, Nowack found no string quartets (they probably never existed anyway). However, while going through the papers of the late Karl Haag, also a former employee of Walsegg and a clerk at Schottwien, he made a sensational discovery. However, its significance seems to had escaped him at first, as a letter to Dietrichstein, dated October 29, 1838, shows:
“By the way, I should also inform Your Excellency that among the clerk’s papers was the score for the Requiem which Mozart himself had prepared in 1792, signed, and turned over to Count Walsegg. The handwriting is the same throughout the score, though it has been said that from the Sanctus or Benedictus onward, it was written by Süssmayr, or Seyfried, another Mozart pupil. On November 8, when I shall be in Vienna to attend an important musical event, I shall investigate further.
“Count Walsegg had paid Mozart 100 ducats for this Requiem, on conditions that no one else was to have its use. After Mozart’s death, his widow [Constanze] had supplied the score, in draft form, to a German publisher in Offenbach. When Count Walsegg heard of this he intended to sue her through his legal councillor, Dr. Sortschann. Constanze, however, asked him to consider her difficult circumstances and her poverty. In view of this, Count Walsegg accepted six previously unknown quartets and other compositions which the widow offered him by way of compensation.”
From Nowack’s letter, we can already see how misinformed the library officials were concerning the requiem. First of all, it seems that they think that Mozart himself finished the requiem and gave it to Walsegg. This is what Constanze led them to think by saying that Mozart had written the work “almost to the end” (this also infuriated Süssmayr and led to an alienation of his and Constanze’s friendship). They also didn’t have any other samples of Süssmayr’s or Mozart’s handwriting to compare to the writing on the requiem, so they wouldn’t have known that there were actually two handwritings on the score (the handwritings of the two composers are almost identical).
Nowack’s letter never reached Dietrichstein, but went to his assistant, Ignaz Franz von Mosel, curator of the library. Mosel was in no hurry to reply; it was not until November 13 that he suggested for Nowack to send in the manuscript “to be inspected and evaluated.” Of course, the news was of great interest to the library officials, who had been watching developments from the sidelines. In 1831, they received the original fragment of the Dies Irae through Confutatis from Maximilian Stadler, and the original fragment of the Lacrimosa through Hostias from Joseph Eybler in 1833.
Mosel’s reply came too late; Nowack had already gone to Vienna to attend the “important musical event” (a performance of Haydn’s Seasons), and had gone to Dietrichstein’s residence to show him the manuscript. On November 17, Nowack reported to Mosel:
“My call at His Excellency’s residence was to no avail, for the count was absent. Instead I proceeded to the music store of Haslinger, purveyor to the court, and showed him my manuscript. Since he treated me with great indifference I returned home.”
The surprising thing is, if Haslinger had realized the manuscript’s value, he would have bought it to resell it for a profit. Then it would have been lost to the library, which was, according to Mosel, “the only adequate and suitably distinguished place” for it. Nowack also hoped the library would purchase it, since he gladly complied with Mosel’s request to see it:
“I am happy to submit the Mozart manuscript for your inspection and appraisal. I should point out that the sole heir to the estate of Count Walsegg’s clerk demands 50 gulden in gold for it. I am inclined to consider that this inflated asking price is due to the agitated state of the local musicians, and I shall leave it to your discretion to decide, on close examination of the manuscript, what an appropriate amount would be, and whether the Court Library would be prepared to pay that amount.”
Karl Haag’s heir was Katharina Adelpoller, who was encouraged by local musicians to sell the score to the library.
Mosel then informed Nowack that Dietrichstein had returned and had asked Mosel to communicate the following: Dietrichstein found the price “rather excessive” considering that the requiem had been published long ago by two publishers already. However, he said the library would buy the manuscript once there was reliable information on how it became the property of Karl Haag, or else the library could be in danger of someone claiming the score was their property.
Nowack hurried to explain:
“This score formed part of the estate of the late clerk Karl Haag. According to his last will and testament his sole heir was Katharina Adelpoller, wife of Johann Adelpoller, usher of the court at Stuppach, as attested to by the enclosed official certification.”
Nowack explained that it could no longer be established how and through whom Haag had acquired the score, but that:
“…he must have received it either from the count himself or from the former administrator of Stuppach, the late Joseph Leitner. All of Count Walsegg’s musical score and instruments were bought by Leitner from Count von Sternberg [Walsegg’s brother-in-law]. This is all the more plausible because Haag had mentioned his special fondness for the Requiem. Indeed he had composed a Requiem himself, which he dedicated to me, Count Walsegg’s former administrator at Schottwien.
“Karl Haag had also been a musician in the service of Count Walsegg and was the rightful owner of the score. If anyone wanted to contest this, that person would have to submit proof of ownership. Count Sternberg (or rather his wife, as the heir and sister of Count Walsegg) cannot establish such a claim, since he sold all musical scores to Leitner, the administrator. His [Leitner’s] widow cannot do so either, for she cannot prove that this score formed part of the sheet music that had been sold. Therefore there is no danger to the Court Library that anyone would ever claim ownership of this score.
“The owner [Katharina Adelpoller] is willing to sell her score for 50 ducats, only if it is identical, from beginning to end, with the printed scores. This would prove that Mozart did complete the Requiem in its entirety. Otherwise she would ask for a larger sum.”
How clever! Adelpoller based her argument on the incorrect assumption that the manuscript was entirely in Mozart’s handwriting, but it was logical enough: if the published score did not agree with hers, then she was the one who owned the authentic score, thus increasing the value considerably. However, as everyone would soon find out, it was the delivery score, not the original fragment.
Mosel then hastened to clarify:
“Our very first task was to compare this manuscript score with the printed ones…. This comparison showed that it is indeed and exactly the same work.”
Mosel added a receipt that Nowack was to sign. Nowack signed and returned it on December 17, 1838; Mosel transferred the money on December 21, requesting immediate acknowledgment of its receipt, which Nowack provided three days later.
The news traveled quickly. On January 30, 1839, the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in Leipzig reported:
“It has been confirmed that the complete original manuscript of the Mozart Requiem score has been discovered and has been purchased by the Imperial-Royal Court Library for its music collection. This manuscript, from the first to the last note written by Mozart, also includes the Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, and the repeat of the opening movement with the fugue. Herr Hofrat von Mosel will report on this event in detail. His account will soon be published, so that our esteemed readers will be fully informed.”
Most people went along with the report and believed that Mozart did finish the requiem, even though they had never seen the score in person (and it was not the original, it was the delivery score!). However, some people expressed doubts, and a certain Anton Herzog went the furthest. Herzog was the former teacher at the school supported by Count Walsegg. Herzog wrote an essay, saying that the newly discovered manuscript could not be the original, as Mozart did not complete the requiem. The article proved to be potentially explosive, and the library officials suppressed its publication.
Mosel, on the other hand, was preparing to write an essay to prove whether or not Mozart really had completed the requiem. He attempted to pull out all the stops:
“Anyone at all familiar with Mozart’s handwriting will notice at once that the score, from the first to the last page, was written by him. From this we can conclude that he completed the Requiem before his death, and that anything said to the contrary, be it in writing or in print, or sanctioned by tradition, is in error.”
Obviously, Mosel had written this under the incorrect assumption that the whole manuscript was really written by Mozart. What he didn’t know was that only the Introit was fully in Mozart’s handwriting (part of the Introit that had gone into the delivery score, which was the score Mosel thought was the original). Most of the Kyrie was in Mozart’s hand, but some of the orchestration was Süssmayr’s and possibly that of another composer, who has yet to be identified.
Mosel tried to support his argument that Mozart had completed the requiem with the following:
“Aside from the handwriting, other factors lead to this conclusion. We know that Mozart labored over the Requiem for some time, with great zeal. Given this amount of time it is unlikely that he only completed a portion of it, as has been claimed, for in spite of his fluctuating health it is known that he composed quickly and easily.”
Friedrich Rochlitz, the former editor of the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, Mosel claimed, proved this. Rochlitz had reported earlier that Mozart had returned from Prague to Vienna in 1791 (after the premiere of his opera La clemenza di Tito), “tired of all the luxury and extravagance, more than eager to resume work on the Requiem.” Rochlitz said Mozart had to have completed the score, since this intensive work had “often caused Mozart to collapse from total fatigue, and to faint. Less than four weeks had passed [since the patron’s inquiry] before he completed the task – and passed away.”
Mosel then continues that his friend, Baron von Jacquin, had talked to him about a meeting he had with Mozart. According to Mosel’s report, Jacquin had asked Mozart for something but Mozart, who had been “sitting at his desk, busily working on his Requiem,” replied:
“I shall be glad to comply with your request but give me some time. I am working on a composition which is urgent, and close to my heart. Until I have completed it I cannot take on anything else.”
Mosel claimed that although Mozart never said it was the requiem, most of the evidence shows that it was. It was well-known that Walsegg needed the composition urgently, and that (although at first he treated it as any other routine commission) the requiem did become something close to Mozart’s heart.
Then something happened that totally changed the way Mosel viewed things. The court library officials had realized they possessed something else. Although they did not know what it was, it was the real original fragment, the manuscript that was really in Mozart’s handwriting. Remember that in 1831, the library received the original fragment of the Dies Irae through Confutatis from Maximilian Stadler, and the original fragment of the Lacrimosa through Hostias from Joseph Eybler in 1833.
However, Mosel did not know this, and he became confused. Now there were two requiem manuscripts, the original fragment and the delivery score. The court library officials believed that both scores were completely in Mozart’s handwriting. But why would Mozart had written a few fragments and then a complete score? People knew that Mozart did not compose by making drafts to use as raw material for the actual composition; instead, he drafted out the most essential parts immediately before returning to the orchestration later.
Now Mosel was less sure of his footing and proceeded cautiously:
“The pages containing the Dies Irae, and on through the Confutatis, clearly were what Mozart’s widow had sent to Herr André (one of the first requiem publishers), to be studied by him and returned… The staves that Mozart had left blank now contained instrumental parts, added by an unknown scribe – not Süssmayr – parts that are very different from those of the present score [the delivery score, which everyone still assumed to be the original].”
When Constanze had first sent the original fragment to André, she told him that there were sections in the “inner voices” (the orchestration) that were not by Mozart or Süssmayr. She never revealed that it was Joseph Eybler (who had worked on the requiem for a short while before Süssmayr completed it) who wrote them. However, André never made any mention of this, and Mosel became confused, thinking that since André had never mentioned it, someone else must have rescored the Dies Irae through Lacrimosa after the requiem was published.
This was a weak point in Mosel’s argument, but then there was a bigger problem: how on earth was he going to explain that Mozart had written out a complete score and then had left fragments without writing the instrumental parts?
He hit upon a simple solution – one that was too simple. Mozart had lost these fragments and then rewrote them out again. Mosel used evidence from Constanze’s letter to Maximilian Stadler where she described how Mozart frequently lost his papers:
“It was one of Mozart’s weaknesses that he was careless with his manuscripts. Often he would begin a composition and then lose it. Rather than spend time looking for it, he composed it again. As a result, some compositions existed in two identical autographs.”
Regarding the other people involved, Mosel decided to arrive at easy conclusions without any evidence to support how he had reached this conclusion. He totally disregarded Süssmayr’s letter to the Breitkopf & Härtel publishing company, and while referring to Stadler’s arguments during the requiem controversy, he said:
“Stadler’s arguments, that the [delivery] score was not entirely in Mozart’s handwriting, lose their validity since he indicates nowhere that he had ever talked with Mozart, or even with Süssmayr, about the requiem.”
Mosel then pointed out that all of the information Stadler knew had come from Mozart’s family, which as we know, was not always a reliable source.
Now even more confused than before, Mosel hurried to sort things out. He hired professional graphologists to make comparisons between the handwriting on the delivery score (he was still under the impression that it was the original) and other samples of Mozart’s and Süssmayr’s handwriting. This proved to be a challenge, as the handwriting of the two composers was virtually identical.
Most of the graphologists claimed the delivery score was completely written by Mozart, but this was due to the fact that there weren’t many reliable samples of other works for comparison. They claimed that the samples of Süssmayr’s writing consisted of “casual sketches on small pieces of paper.”
Everything changed when a certain Baron Lannoy gave Mosel a fifteen-page long trio for soprano and two basses with orchestral accompaniment, and a ten-page long aria for bass and orchestra. Both of these works had been written by Süssmayr as replacement numbers in Pergolesi’s opera La serva padrona. Mosel then admitted:
“The penmanship in these scores, both text and music, revealed an amazing similarity to Mozart’s writing in general, but especially to the score of the Requiem, beginning with the Dies Irae…”
This is proof of why the history of the requiem has become so complicated – not just because of Constanze’s lies, but because of the nearly identical handwritings of Süssmayr and Mozart.
Mosel had said that Süssmayr’s handwriting was similar to Mozart’s “in general, but especially to the score of the Requiem, beginning with the Dies Irae…” This comes as no surprise. From the beginning of the Dies Irae in the delivery score of the requiem, every note was written by Süssmayr! After he had completed the requiem, he had made the delivery score by copying everything that had Eybler’s handwriting on it (from the Dies Irae) and putting it with the original Introit and Kyrie. This was the score that Count Walsegg received in early 1792, the same score the Vienna Court Library had bought from Katharina Adelpoller.
While working on his essay, Mosel had come into contact with Constanze. Mozart’s widow, on February 10, 1839, made a statement about the requiem for the last time:
“…the manuscript may indeed be by Süssmayr. He told me he had made a copy for himself in which he had tried to imitate Mozart’s handwriting, text and music, so perfectly that it would be impossible to distinguish between the two… If the score is complete, then it cannot be Mozart’s, for he did not finish it.”
Finally! Constanze finally confessed that she had lied previously, and that it was true that Mozart never completed the requiem. Mosel could be satisfied that he had finally figured out the mystery and was able to complete the essay.
Of course, the story of the requiem will never be resolved on this side of eternity. What is truly amazing was that it took so long or the mystery to be “solved”. The essential question all along had been: Did Mozart finish the requiem? The short answer: no.
Then we’ll continue to ask: Then which parts were written by Mozart and which by Süssmayr? We can get a general idea, but as to exactly who wrote every each note, we’ll never know. That is not possible or reasonable, and to try to figure that out would be a complete waste of time. It is true that no one will ever be able to figure out all the details, but at least the essential things have been made known.
So it appears that all ends well.
But does it?
In the twentieth century, musicologists and composers began to write their own completions, thus complicating the situation further. And this forces the listener to choose between different versions… But then again, this is another story!