Mozart Timeline

Grieving with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Death is part of our lives. The day when we are especially reminded of this fact is All Souls' Day on November 2nd. Widely observed throughout the German-speaking world and in many other countries, it is a holiday to remember departed loved ones with candles and prayers. Music is a great help to get into a contemplative mood and to ease the grieving process. Some of the greatest music for mourners was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

17 October 2013 Events

Hardly any other composer has had the talent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when it comes to merging cheerfulness and spirituality. The highly sensitive musical genius loved life. But he was also a human being with tremendous emotional depths, who was extremely skilful in cladding emotions in melodies and sounds. Mozart had to experience the passing of loved ones as well. He had to witness the deaths not only of his mother and father, but also of four of his six children. These tragic moments reverberate in his music.

Ceremonial Funerals with Dirges by Mozart

Music does not only contribute to a day of sombre remembrance on All Souls' Day. It also lends gravitas to funerals. Many works of Mozart give great comfort. His most famous work in this context without doubt is the Requiem (K. 626) – which he wrote when he himself was moribund. The constant interplay of threatening gloom and the cheerful allegro of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 in A major (K. 219) is extremely comforting. Less known, the Latin Motet in F for soprano and orchestra – “Exsultate, jubilate” (K. 165) – is also frequently used for funerals.

Mozart wrote more than 70 works of church music, which all provide a sombre background for a funeral. One of the most important is the Great Mass in C minor (K. 427), a missa solemnis, a mass composed in 1782.

Dirges – in high demand in Mozart’s time

Mozart was frequently commissioned to compose dirges. This is how his greatest work of freemason composition saw the light of the world. The Masonic Funeral Music (K. 477) was commissioned to commemorate the passing of two masonic brothers, Duke Georg August of Mecklenburg and Count Franz Esterházy of Galanta. This superb work was composed for a specific occasion and is still widely used to grant comfort during funerals or obsequies today.

Grieving with Mozart

Grieving with Mozart

Signpost leading to Mozart’s grave, St. Marx Cemetery, Vienna Source: Wikimedia