Thursday, March 16, 2017

Could have been a missing page from The Secret History of Twin Peaks

“In October, he wrote the clarinet concerto in A, then a cantata for the freemason lodge which he directed himself, November the 18th. Finally, he put all his energy toward the requiem, but just after the performance of the Cantata he became extremely ill.  He had a fever, his whole body was swollen, he continued writing the requiem right up until he died, which was only two weeks after he became sick. And he died on December the 5th, 1791, was buried in a mass unmarked grave, which was a common practice for the middle class of Vienna. Nobody knows what his illness was, there are many theories about it--rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, syphilis, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, poisoning-- but today is his birthday, 1756. Mozart, who said music in even the most terrible situations must never offend the ear but always remain a source of pleasure.”
–Garrison Keillor, Writer’s Almanac 1/27/2017

A recently recovered letter of Mozart’s may just shed some light on these final days of his life, and the cause of its early and sudden conclusion. In it, he explains to an old childhood friend how he’d recently heard an owl hooting nearby. “I believed it to be singing a melody, and the cantata tumbled from my head, reminding me of a rather vivid dream from years earlier. I knew then what I would do for my next commission, even that I would direct it. And they loved it.”

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