An Improved "Sanctus" for Mozart's Requiem, K.626
Analysis and new music by David E. Morton
(Additionally, the unused "Amen" sketch is presented).
May 2005 - text added.
January 2012 - Piano and Organ versions added.
May 2014 - text added.
April 2015 - text added.
From the Requiem in D Minor, by W.A. Mozart, left unfinished in December, 1791.
Mozart wrote part of the Sanctus, and Süßmayr (FXS) wrote the rest.
Claiming the FXS wrote the entire Sanctus because he became "Inspired" is Magical Thinking
on the level of "Magic Beans" and Santa Claus.
The first few measures demonstrate that Mozart definitely wrote the beginning choral theme,
with its refer-back to the Dies Irae, and did so with impeccable perfection.
The timpani parts, with their novel and rapid 5-stroke statements, were also written by Mozart
(or communicated to FXS) - something the slow and plodding FXS would never have thought of.
When it comes to the Sanctus, the most important idea of all is "The will to improve it." without
disturbing the Mozartean parts.
The task is surprisingly difficult.
Presented here are 2 versions of the Sanctus in MIDI format - Old and New.
The traditional, Süßmayr version of the Requiem, is called "Old Sanctus-1" and "Old Sanctus-2".
My version of the Sanctus is called "New Sanctus".
Note: You will need a good soundcard and speakers to play MIDI files so they sound decent.
SoundBlaster sound cards with Soundfont technology for playing MIDI files work well.
OLD Sanctus-1 (Mozart/Süßmayr)
Transcribed to MIDI format by: D.L.Viens (email@example.com) from The Classical Archives
OLD Sanctus-2 (Mozart/Süßmayr)
Transcribed to MIDI format by: T.O.Drisceoil (firstname.lastname@example.org) from The Classical Archives
Timpanis are absent from this version, for some reason.
NEW SANCTUS - CHORAL (Mozart/Süßmayr/Morton)
Old Sanctus-1 and Sanctus-2 combined and revised.
NEW SANCTUS - PIANO (Mozart/Süßmayr/Morton)
New Sanctus in a piano version.
This version is very "poundy", but the notes and harmony come through nicely.
NEW SANCTUS - ORGAN (Mozart/Süßmayr/Morton)
New Sanctus in an organ version.
The Hosanna is mostly unchanged, and needs to be completely rewritten (and probably lengthened).
For example, the accent on the word "Osanna" is on the 3rd syllable - the wrong syllable.
It is sung "o-sann-NA" instead of "o-SAN-na".
Mozart would never make such an elementary mistake in pronunciation.
It should either be re-phrased or re-written so that the accent falls on the right syllable.
The first portion of the Sanctus itself should also be lengthened.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus, Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Osanna in excelsis.
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord, God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Note that the word is spelled "Osanna" rather than "Hosanna" in this number.
We don't know if Mozart or Süßmayr selected this spelling, but it was probably
Mozart spelled it "Hosanna" in the Mass in C Minor, and other works, so one
would think that he would have used the same spelling in the Requiem.
Since the word "Osanna" is used instead, this could mean that Süßmayr
wrote the words, and had no Mozartian template to follow.
It is also interesting to note that there is a steep drop-off in musical quality
at the introduction of the word "Osanna".
Who wrote what in the Sanctus number?
My opinion is this: Mozart wrote some of it, and Sűssmayr wrote the rest.
It's much easier to determine what Mozart DIDN'T write than what he DID write,
and the only method we can use to try to determine that is by listening to the style.
If it sounds wrong or boring, Sűssmayr definitely wrote it and Mozart did not.
This is because Mozart never wrote music with "bad" harmony, and never
wrote "boring" music in his later years.
Hardly any of Mozart's music is boring, but some of the Masonic songs he wrote
for his lodge seem plain and boring to me. Other than that, Mozart was
never boring. And there is nothing in the Requiem that relates to the brotherly love
and high ideals of the Masons, so Mozart wouldn't be writing that type of music
for his Requiem.
This is funeral music, and even in his Masonic Funeral Music, Mozart properly
wrote a dirge of compelling emotional intensity.
From the last String Quintet, to the Ave Verum, to the 3 Organ Fantasias, to the
Clarinet Concerto, to the Magic Flute, to the Introit of the Requiem - pick any major
late work - everything he wrote was inventive, interesting, compelling, moving, and polished.
So, if it sounds wrong, boring, plain, un-imaginative, plodding, simple-minded,
amateurish, or contains mispronounced words, Mozart didn't write it.
Those are the parts that need to be corrected. Many have tried. I too am trying.
Two points need to be made about Süßmayr:
1. He was very familiar with "ordinary: church music, but of course, not with the Requiem
which was not "ordinary" church music.
2. Süßmayr was only about 26 years old when he completed the Requiem (born 1766).
That's rather YOUNG to be trying to complete a work of Mozart's - especially a Mass for
Mozart, by contrast, was 35, and much more experienced and talented as a composer.
Even most of Mozart's mature and well-known works were written long after the age
Mozart wrote a great deal of excellent church music when he was younger, such as the
"Exultate Jubilate" and several "Regina Coeli's". But none of them were Requiems, and
none of them had the depth of the Requiem.
A 26 year-old composer would probably not have the experience to be able to write a
convincing Requiem - much less, complete Mozart's Requiem.
Note that Süßmayr was a successful and popular composer, for a time, and his career
improved year after year until the end when he was essentially completely forgotten by the
Viennese public, finally dying in 1803, and buried in a Pauper's grave in St. Marx Cemetery -
it's exact location unknown. Mozart was buried in the same graveyard.
The problem I have with his music is that it's so BORING.
Süßmayr's Musical Trademark would be "Boredom". It's just spoonful after spoonful of
Unflavored Tofu - the most un-tasty and boring food in the world (so I'm told).
Church music can be "plain and boring", such as Gregorian Chants. But the music of the
Requiem, known to be composed by Mozart, is anything but boring!!
Is the Dies Irae boring? Is the Lacrimosa boring?
For that matter, is the earlier "Ave Verum" boring? Not a chance.
(Somebody wrote that examining the Requiem for music that sounds "wrong" is not the
right way to determine what Süßmayr wrote.
Excuse me??? That's a nearly PERFECT way (if you add "Boring"), and often the ONLY way
to determine what numbers he wrote.
WRONG music, or BORING music, or WRONG AND BORING music means FXS wrote it.
WRONG ACCENTS ON WORDS mean FXS wrote it (O-SANN-AHHHH -- wrong syllable).
Yes, I'm positive because Mozart NEVER did those things.
STRANGE WORDS mean FXS probably wrote it (Osanna rather than Hosanna).
Only a strange person would willingly use the word "Osanna".
Does this person have a BETTER way to do it for the sections where we have no autograph
score or a sketch??
Example: Mozart would NEVER put the accent on the wrong syllable of a word (O-sann-AH - 3rd
syllable), and would probably have used the word "Hosanna" anyway.
Mozart would NEVER have written the "Pleni sunt coeli" as we find it, as Christoph Wolff
Listening for "wrong" or boring music might not identify ALL of the Süßmayr contributions,
but it should identify MOST of them, and perhaps all of them.
If Süßmayr was inspired for a few measures here and there, so be it.
But "inspired" is not the same as "deep, intellectual, symbolic, relational", etc.
And there's no proof of it or evidence that such a change in behavior would even be POSSIBLE.
An "Inspired" FXS is just more Magical Thinking.
How did he do it??? With MAGIC!! The Music Fairy sprinkled FXS with Magical Music Dust,
giving him Inspiration equaling Mozart's for part of the Sanctus!!
And that explains why the Sanctus theme cleverly refers back to the Dies Irae theme:
Inspiration and deep thinking from Magical Music Dust.
But the Inspiration from the Magical Music Dust stopped working when FXS was going to
complete the "Amen" sketch. And that explains why the "Amen" sketch was never completed
by FXS. (She must have used expired Magical Music Dust which had been sitting on the shelf,
It's our job to fix the bad stuff if we can.
It's a huge undertaking, and I've never seen anyone do it correctly - including me.
Mozart was so much more experienced, knowledgeable, and smarter than the rest of us,
that bringing the Requiem up to Mozart's standards might be an impossible task.
I was foolish enough to try with one number: the Sanctus.
Having tried, I now realize that Süßmayr did a fairly good job with it. But it wasn't good enough.
He was far more experienced and talented than I am, but he was still BORING,
so I wrote my own version.
It's not that good, but it's probably better than what Süßmayr wrote.
We can be grateful to Sűssmayr that he was able and willing to undertake the project of completing
the Requiem, and one cannot help but feel sorry for the man who received no credit or compensation
during his lifetime for his selfless and generous work on the Requiem lasting 3-6 months, to provide Constance Mozart with some income, but there remain some musical problems which should be fixed,
It was born of grief and love, ended in confusion, multiple cover-ups, double forgeries,
lost manuscripts, missed letters and thievery, and never fulfilled the desire of its commissioner,
Count Franz von Walsegg, to serve as an annual musical memorial to his young bride,
Countess Anna Walsegg (Maria Anna Theresa Prenner Edlen von Flammberg), who died on February 14, 1791 at the age of 20, after only 4 years of marriage. It was performed only twice in Anna Walsegg's memory due to legal complications, and no one thought to have it performed for the Count - who never remarried - when he died in 1827, and was finally laid to rest in a crypt next to his beloved wife.
Mozart himself was unable to finish writing this great Requiem - the last piece he worked on before he died - being taken away by death in December 1791, only 10 months after Anna Walsegg died.
Having no apparent knowledge of the identity of the commissioner of the Requiem or its motivation, and becoming sicker and weaker in the autumn of 1791, Mozart began to believe that he was writing it for himself - for his own funeral.
It was completed primarily by Franz Xaver Süßmayr in 1792, after Mozart died. Others who worked
on the completion prior to Süßmayr were Joseph Eybler, Maximilian Stadler, and possibly Freystädler - who may have worked on the Kyrie with the others.
While the Requiem as a whole is a sublime and compelling work, there are troubling areas which sound as if someone else with lesser abilities composed them or finished them (orchestrated them). One of those numbers is the Sanctus.
We have no music from the Sanctus in Mozart's handwriting - fragmentary or complete. No beginning, sketches, or drafts by Mozart of the Sanctus (or Hosanna) have been found. We know that Süßmayr may have been given some scraps of paper with music on them by Mozart's widow, Constanze, for him to use as he saw fit, according to Abbe Maximilian Stadler in 1826. What these papers contained - or even if any Requiem sketches were in the pile, no one knows. (It is even possible that the story of the "scraps of paper" given to Süßmayr is fictitious, invented for the purpose of adding authenticity to the Requiem). It is possible that Mozart sketched part of the Sanctus and Hosanna, possible that he gave Süßmayr verbal instructions, and possible that he did neither or both.
There are 5 main parts in Mozart's Requiem:
1. Requiem and Kyrie
2. Sequence (Dies Irae, Tuba mirum, Rex tremendae, Recordare, Confutatis, Lacrimosa)
3. Offertory (Domine Jesu, Hostias)
4. Sanctus with Hosanna and Benedictus
5. Agnus Dei with Communion
These parts break down to roughly 15 numbers, with the Sanctus/Hosanna highlighted:
1. Introit (Requiem) 2. Kyrie 3. Dies irae 4. Tuba mirum 5. Rex tremendae
6. Recordare 7. Confutatis 8. Lacrimosa 8a. Amen 9. Domine Jesu 10. Hostias
11.Sanctus (11a. Sanctus 11b. Hosanna) 12. Benedictus (12a. Benedictus 12b. Hosanna)
13. Agnus Dei 14. Communio: Lux aeterna 15. Cum Sanctis tuis
The parts which belong to the "regular mass" (the Ordinary) as opposed to a mass specifically for the
dead are: The Kyrie, Sanctus, Hosanna, and Benedictus. The "cum Sanctis tuis" is a repeat of the Kyrie with different words, and is shown as part of the Ordinary.
The parts for the Ordinary Mass are highlighted in green.
The parts added for a Mass for the Dead are highlighted in Gray.
The cum Sanctis is highlighted in light green (Ordinary):
1. Introit (Requiem) 2. Kyrie 3. Dies irae 4. Tuba mirum 5. Rex tremendae
6. Recordare 7. Confutatis 8. Lacrimosa 8a. Amen 9. Domine Jesu 10. Hostias
11.Sanctus (11a. Sanctus 11b. Hosanna) 12. Benedictus (12a. Benedictus 12b. Hosanna)
13. Agnus Dei 14. Communio: Lux aeterna 15. Cum Sanctis tuis
● Ordinary part of a Mass
● Parts added for a Mass for the dead
11a. Sanctus 11b. Hosanna
12a. Benedictus 12b. Hosanna
Cum Sanctis tuis
Total: 6 parts. :
Mass for the Dead.
Communio: Lux aeterna
Total: 12 parts. :
Grand total: 18 parts.
Ordinary: 1/3 of the parts (6)
Mass for the Dead: 2/3 of the parts (12)
Thus, most of the numbers involve the Mass for the Dead (12), while the Ordinary involves only 6.
The Sanctus belongs to the Ordinary part of the mass - the part not specifically for the dead.
Mozart distinguished between these 2 parts by writing music for the Ordinary which was more neutral and
less impassioned, and writing music for the rest of the piece which was more fervent.
Each number in the Requiem contains varying amounts of Mozart in it, with the Introit containing nearly
100% Mozart, and the Sanctus/Hosanna containing the least amount of Mozart and the most Süßmayr,
in my opinion.
We know the Introit is 100% Mozart because we have the autograph score which is entirely in Mozart's handwriting. Most of the other sections were begun and left in varying states of completion by Mozart.
For the Sanctus/Hosanna, however, we have nothing in Mozart's handwriting.
Süßmayr himself claimed in 1800 to have composed it, and Constanze Mozart said the same thing in the
We know that the only Requiem sketches to surface in 200 years were for the "Amen" fugue and the "Rex tremendae", so Süßmayr might be telling the truth about having composed the entire Sanctus, although this is very doubtful, as explained below.
Mitigating against Süßmayr's claim is the first-rate vocal writing of the beginning of the Sanctus, followed by questionable harmony and development. The 4-part vocal writing was at the center of Mozart's planning and execution for the Requiem, as one can easily see by viewing the original score. Mozart's method of working on the Requiem was to write the vocal parts first, and fill in the instrumentation later, except for occasional passages containing instruments only, where he wrote some of those parts in, and added more later.
Clearly, the questionable harmony and development did not come from Mozart, while the first-rate vocal writing fits his talents and his method of working.
Additionally, the beginning of the Sanctus is nearly identical to the music from the beginning of the Dies Irae (but in a major key) - a technique Mozart used throughout the piece to tie it together thematically. The bass line of the Dies Irae, in turn, is the same as that of the Introit theme, tying the Dies Irae to the Introit.
The Sanctus, therefore, is tied to the Dies Irae and the Introit, and the Ordinary part of the Mass is tied to the Mass for the dead.
Thus we have the Sanctus, and 2 other examples of thematic ties (arrows depict the source and object):
Diagram 1 - Some basic thematic relationships
Diagram 2 - Some basic thematic relationships with additional notations
Diagram 3 - More notations
It is, of course possible that the thematic tie-ins of the Introit-DiesIrae-Sanctus are purely accidental, but let us proceed with the assumption that they were intentionally created, for now, and examine the implications.
Considering Süßmayr's limited time to complete the piece, it is highly doubtful that it occurred to him to tie together the Sanctus with the Dies Irae. This was almost certainly Mozart's idea, since the Dies Irae had already been (mostly) written before he died, and Mozart had already tied in the Amen sketch theme with the Introit, as an inversion of the Introit theme, tying together the "eternal rest" of the Introit with the "approval" of that eternal rest with the Amen.
Additionally, the Sanctus theme plays a more complex symbolic role than other thematic relationships.
It is in a major key (and the SAME key, but major (D-major), rather than minor (D-minor)), as opposed to
its Dies Irae source which is in a minor key (D-minor).
This makes sense both in terms of the textual content of each piece, and in terms of the Ordinary (the Sanctus) versus the "Mass for the dead" (the Dies Irae) aspect, if one were trying to contrast the two through music.
In other words, the "holy and glorious" in D-major (the Sanctus) is contrasted with "the day of wrath" in D-minor (the Dies Irae). They are opposite ideas tied together by the Bible, and therefore, by their musical themes.
The God who is wrathful towards the dead sinners on Judgement Day is the same God with a different
attitude who is holy and glorious for the living. The result is identical musical themes (the same God) written in the same root key of D (the same God) with two different moods and purposes (major/minor), in two different sections of the Mass (major/minor), symbolically reflecting the texts and liturgical partitioning through the music.
Although it is possible that the theme for the Sanctus was Eybler's idea, he stopped work on the Requiem before reaching the Sanctus and turning the project back to Constance Mozart. Additionally, the Sanctus in his Requiem in C minor is mostly in a minor key.
Thus, the most likely candidate for the Sanctus theme remains Mozart, tying concepts together, and switching
to a major key, while retaining the same root key as the Dies Irae (D).
In fact, when you consider all the aspects of this theme, the ONLY candidate for its authorship is Mozart.
If Mozart didn't write the theme of the Sanctus on music paper, he could easily have given Süßmayr the basic idea by saying something like, "The Sanctus should be in the key of D-major, using essentially the same theme as the Dies Irae, only much slower and majestic," and then perhaps humming or singing the first few bars. Total time to communicate the idea: about 45-60 seconds, depending on his strength.
Süßmayr would not be writing down music, but would either be commiting the idea to memory or taking notes, with the details to be worked out later - certainly not writing everything down on music paper as did the high-speed, brilliant, and telepathic Salieri of the fictional movie Amadeus who supposedly transcribed the impossibly complex Confutatis from Mozart's verbal instructions. On a scale of 1-1000, taking a few notes for the Sanctus theme would have been a "1" compared with a "100" or higher for writing the Confutatis music. If Süßmayr took any notes, they might have read:
"Sanctus - D-major. Approx same theme as DI. Slower. Majestic"
Incredibly, some people say that Süßmayr composed the entire Sanctus from start to finish, and that those who think that Mozart authored the basic theme are just fooling themselves, and are guilty of "the will to believe"..
What a laugh. That Mozart is the author of the Sanctus theme is an issue of simply hearing the music, analyzing the thematic refer-backs, and recognizing that communicating the theme to someone - on paper or verbally - would have been so simple, a high school student could have handled it.
Working out the music would not have been a trivial issue, however. Experience and talent would have been required. And Süßmayr's certainly had enough of both to handle it, though not in a very satisfying way.
The only people with "the will to believe" are those critics who think they see the same "thought" processes
in others which they themselves have created from their own emotions.
It's the way THEY think and feel - not necessarily other people.
And it's a completely bogus charge. The only "will to believe" lies in the minds of the critics who apparently
have not studied the issue of the basic Sanctus theme, noted the quality of the choral writing, and noted the complexities involved - complexities of the type Mozart is noted for. It is simply not possible that Süßmayr
could have seen the need for thematic and key integration, composed a first-rate theme based on a previous number, changed major/minor modes, etc. Asserting that Süßmayr did it or could have done it is baseless
Ducks in thunderstorms don't suddenly become imbued with great musical talent and deep thinking. They DO, however, write "Osanna" with the accent on the wrong syllable (Mozart wouldn't do that),
and substitute "Osanna" for "Hosanna" (doubtful that it was Mozart who selected that word.
They are even guilty of the "will to denigrate" - so typical of Communists, little people jealous of the achievements of the West, little people jealous of the achievements of brilliant men, Serfs, Losers, .and Professional Flunkies.
In addition to not having the requisite SKILL and EXPERIENCE for such a complex undertaking, Süßmayr didn't have the TIME, the ENERGY, the NEED, or the MOTIVATION to be subtle, brilliant, deep, symbolic, etc.
Süßmayr was busy with other projects of his own, and he was in a hurry.
He had to finish the Requiem as soon as possible so that Constance could receive the 2nd half of the
payment, and so that she wouldn't have to return the first half, in case the man who commissioned it
became impatient with the delays, or suspicious that Mozart hadn't composed very much of it - being completed SLOWLY(??) by other composers due to so much work being required.
Speed was of the essence. Composing "safe" music was appropriate for the situation, rather than
getting into a compositional bind and being unable to dig oneself out of the hole quickly enough.
These are pragmatic issues. Constance and her 2 children had to survive, and Süßmayr helped her
do just that as quickly as he could.
They have nothing to do with "the will to believe". That's for "woo-woo" types - not for thinkers.
Süßmayr had no time, no energy, no need, no motivation, and insufficient skill and experience to compose
the basic theme of the Sanctus, with an intentional refer-back to a previous number.. .
Mozart gave Süßmayr an excellent start with the beginning of the Sanctus, and possibly some verbal
suggestions, as well as the possible beginning notes of the Hosanna fugue, but Süßmayr was not able to complete these in a masterful or Mozartian way. The Sanctus therefore feels Mozartian in its theme, and of Süßmayr in its execution.
It sounds like what it is: A strange hybrid.
Süßmayr's abilities as a composer: I have 3 pieces on CDs composed by Süßmayr, and I must say I was
quite bored and unimpressed by it. Three pieces. No brilliance, no engaging tunes or ideas. No nothing.
Just boring Süßmayr. And we're supposed to believe that the Music Fairy gave him deep, superior
talent for a few measures, composing part of the Sanctus?? Prove it. It's a ridiculous idea.
Perhaps Süßmayr was briefly inspired, composed the Sanctus theme, then had his inspiration evaporate, so that he had to complete it without the heaven-sent gift of the capricious muse. An intermittent inspiration??
It doesn't matter.
In the end, I believe the most important aspect of the Sanctus is "the will to improve it" - not to determine who wrote what phrases.
I have revised the Sanctus because I've been unhappy with it for years. The orchestral accompaniment
seems to be "boilerplate" and boring, the harmony is either acceptable or wrong, in my opinion, and it
lacks the elements of clarity and definition (as only Mozart can provide), pleasant surprise (common to
Mozart's works), "wonder" (appropriate to the theme), and a compelling desire to hear it again.
An exception to this is the timpani accompaniment which is outstanding and certainly by Mozart - at least in part. I have changed the timpani score in the 3rd measure for the sake of variety, which I feel is needed at that point. Another exception is the basic theme of the Sanctus in the choral writing, up to the "pleni sunt coeli" where there are some problems.
The issue of the "timpani accompaniment" sounding to me as if it was composed by Mozart begs the question: How could there be such accompaniment by Mozart if we have no autograph of the Sanctus in Mozart's hand, and no documentation as to his involvement? I don't have an answer to that question, but
there are several plausible scenarios, it seems to me.
1. One possibility is that there was a sketch for the Sanctus, with 4 voices filled in, along with the timpani accompaniment.
2. Another possibility is such a sketch without the timpanis, but with Mozart verbally instructing Süßmayr as to the timpanis.
3. Another is the possibility that Mozart gave Süßmayr the basic tune verbally, plus the timpani accompaniment.
4. The last possibility which comes to mind is that Süßmayr composed the timpani part himself, although I find this extremely doubtful based on the other plodding, uninspired accompaniment in the Sanctus. The timpani part is "anti-Süßmayr". It's clever, it's new, it's attention-getting, it's alerting, it's commanding, it's serious, it's
somewhat "military", it's dynamic, and it sounds "official".
It's apparently the Official Announcement of the arrival or the Presence of the "Lord God of Hosts", much as drummers and trumpeters would announce the arrival of a King. .
Everyone is required to rise, doff their hats, and bow. But first, you have to tell the people that someone
important is arriving or already present. A lazy, plodding, boring tune by the violins wouldn't accomplish anything, so Mozart used drums - timpani drums struck at high speed, 5 times in a row.
There's no way that "plodding Süßmayr" composed the timpani part. Not a chance.
Still, it's not terribly important to me who composed the timpani part: I like it, and didn't change it until the 3rd measure where I felt some variation was desirable. The same reasoning applies to the choral writing up to the "pleni sunt coeli".
Mozart roughly alternates major and minor keys with each Requiem number, yet manages to retain a certain degree of sadness in the major keys. The Sanctus is in D major - the only number in that key - although we don't know if that was Mozart's choice or Süßmayr's. Nevertheless, D major - the major version of the tonic key - works well, and seems suited to this number. All the other numbers in the Requiem also exhibit a richness of key modulation, including an alternation of major and minor keys within the number - something lacking in the Sanctus where the only key used is D major. Again, we don't know if Mozart would have introduced modulations into the Sanctus or not.
Perhaps he would have retained the D major key throughout the number, representing, if you will, a purity of expression mirroring the word "Sanctus" ("Holy"), making the Sanctus a "pure" number, and the only one like it in the Requiem.
The homophonic presentation also feels appropriate to the Sanctus, although a polyphonic treatment later in the number, would probably not be out of place (at or after the "pleni sunt coeli"). This revision retains the D major key and homophonic presentation, with the exception of the "pleni sunt coeli" where voice staggering is employed.
In the Sanctus, I hear the hand of the Master (Mozart) in the theme and the timpanis, but I hear the heavy hand of someone else in the harmonic treatment, and in the entire Hosanna - a section which is very un-Mozartian in its treatment, although Mozart may have composed the basic theme for the fugue. The Hosanna is also too short compared to the length of the Sanctus. It should be 2 to 3 times as long as the Sanctus (in time, not in measures), based on religious belief, and the practice of liturgical music during that era. Mozart would certainly not have made such a mistake, assuming he would have followed tradition in that area.
What is my opinion of my changes (improvements)? I feel that the music is better, but still not right. The changes are probably too "gallante" for the Requiem. The Requiem is more somber, more joyless, more desperate, more cynical than pieces such as the Mass in C Minor, etc. To improve the Sanctus correctly, I think one would need to find a way to change the orchestral accompaniment such that it supports the chorus, but holds back from giving enthusiastic augmentation as I have done, in a simpler and subtler way. But at least it eliminates the plodding and uninspired orchestral accompaniment, puts the chorus in more control during the first few measures, improves the harmony at the 3rd "Sanctus" word, and fixes the "pleni sunt coeli" bass entry of C-natural following the C-sharp in the previous measure while staggering the introduction of the voices at "pleni".... So my opinion of my own improvement is, "It's better, but it's still not right."
In summary, I've revised this number to suit my musical tastes, but within the constraints of instruments already used in the rest of the piece (saxophones don't replace the trumpets), the key (it remains in D major), the lead role of the chorus (the orchestra's role doesn't expand to dominate the chorus, just as Mozart defined it), etc. I did take some liberties, at times, with the number of instruments available, adding to the number of notes played at one time in order to enrich the sound. I consulted Christoph Wolff's excellent book on the subject, "Mozart's Requiem - Historical and Analytical Studies - Documents - Score" to try to avoid making any obvious blunders with the musical revision (other
than the number of instruments).
I certainly cannot improve on Mozart (and there's no need to), but perhaps I've improved on what Süßmayr has done.
It's still not right, but it's better.
Media file(s) from the The Classical Archives - by permission.
HomePage -- Mozart's Musical Trademark
An excerpt from Christoph Wolff's book "Mozart's Requiem - Historical and Analytical Studies",
University of California Press, 1994 (English edition), pages 38-40, on some aspects of the Sanctus.
My notes are in italics.
Both the Sanctus (with the Hosanna and Benedictus) and the Agnus Dei betray an especially high degree of technical unevenness and a large number of mistakes in the voice leading, as Mozart scholars recognized at an early date. But if the vocal substance is separated from the instrumental cladding in these movements, an astonishing congruence between the compositional conception here, and that in the sections composed by Mozart, comes to light. Not only that, but we also discover significantly fewer musical errors. The first five bars of the Sanctus, for example, present an impeccable piece of vocal writing, which moreover displays a conspicuous relationship in melody and harmony to the vocal opening of the Sequence [Dies Irae].
The problem in the Sanctus begins with the false relation caused by the C# in the tenor (bar 5) and the
C-nat in the bass (bar 6) and with the parallel open fifths between the sopranos and first violins (bar 4).
The clash of A- and C-major chords (bars 5 and 6) is crude and un-Mozartian. It is conceivable, however, that Sussmayr misinterpreted a Mozartian suggestion - however it was conveyed - which might have led to bar 6 sounding as in Ex. I.8 (bass enters simultaneously with the other voices). In other respects there are no really horrendous problems with the vocal writing - except for the fact that, at ten bars, the Sanctus is far too short by comparison with other masses by Mozart.
It is conceivable that Sussmayr misunderstood ideas sketched by Mozart and that his misunderstanding could have led to the unusual, indeed, absurd, key change (D major to B-flat major) at the Hosanna repeat [in the Benedictus, following the Sanctus/Hosanna number].
The orchestral transitional figure, which links the B-flat major Benedictus (bars 50ff) with the repeat of the Hosanna, is a typical modulatory figure and could easily effect a return to D major (by way of D minor; see Ex. I.9). But Sussmayr does not exploit the modulatory potential of this figure, leaves the link (bars 50-53) in B-flat major, and is thereby forced to repeat the Hosanna in that key. As a result, the Sanctus differs from all the other sections of the Requiem in being harmonically open-ended.
[End of Christoph Wolff's quotation]
[IE, the first Hosanna is in the key of D major. The second Hosanna (in the Benedictus) is in the key
if B-flat major. Sussmayr was pressed for time, took the easy way out, and repeated the Hosanna in the same key as the piece: B-flat major in the Benedictus, instead of the original key for the Hosanna of
D major. Thus, the two Hosannas are in different keys, and there is no "key" linkage between the two.
This is one of many illustrations of Sussmayr's work on the Requiem in which he was unable to perform
at a level close to Mozart's. DEM.]