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Some notes about the music
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
A passionate and eccentric music lover — grandly named Franz, Count of Walsegg, Stuppach — had the occasional habit of commissioning works from leading composers and getting his court musicians to guess who had written them, a process that doubtless led to rewarding flattery. These commissions were anonymous. The death of the Countess in February 1791 led to Mozart’s turn, the commission and the advance payment of half the fee being brought by a “grey messenger” according to a letter of the composer’s whose authenticity is disputed. Wolfgang’s death meant not only that the work was not finished, in the ordinary sense of being written down by him in detail, but that financial stress made it imperative for his widow Constanze to get it finished. For some reason she gave this task first to Joseph Eybler a Viennese musician who was a faithful attender at the bedside of the dying Mozart. Eybler made a good job of completing some of the orchestration in the Dies Irae, but when it came to completing the work he had to give up. The Requiem was then completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, who had assisted as Mozart’s copyist for La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte.
The once held view of Liszt as mainly a composer of virtuoso piano music is far from the truth. He also wrote a great deal of music of the highest standard, including some outstanding choral and organ works. Liszt was a remarkable innovator, much of his music sounding years ahead of its time, especially in its harmonisation. Via Crucis (The 14 Stations of the Cross) is one of the finest of his religious works. It is a late work dating from 1879a and is based on a text arranged by Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein from Biblical quotations, Latin hymns and German chorales. The solo passages are for Jesus, Pilate and the mourning women, with a very important organ part. The work is remarkably austere in character with a most unusual harmonic basis, many passages being derived from the whole tone scale, many years before its use by Debussy.