The story of the composition of Mozart's Requiem has a strange, fabulous quality that is entirely typical of the events of his life. Whether we are considering his amazing exploits and achievements as a youthful virtuoso andmaestro, or the depth of his financial misfortunes in Vienna in the late 1780s, there is little that is mundane about the main biographical facts.
It comes as no surprise, then, to find that these facts have often beencoloured and embroidered, to enhance their emotional effect, and to create a legend about this most remarkable musician. The simple story of the genesis of the Requiem is in itself striking - that in the last weeks of hislifeMozart was working on a Mass for the Dead, that this work was the result of an anonymous commission, and that the commissioner's envoy, in order to avoid giving an address, paid Mozart several unannounced visits, like amessenger from another world - this story can easily be filled out with portents and hints of the supernatural.
Even the account by Franz Niemetscheki (first published in 1798, based on information given by Mozart's widowConstanze, and later receiving 'official' approval by being incorporated into the Mozart biography by Constanze's second husband, Georg von Nissen), writes of the commissioner's agent appearing 'like a ghost', and FriedrichRochlitz's account goes much further in suggesting that the composer was possessed by a demoniac and feverish desire to complete the Requiem, and conscious of approaching doom