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The University of Southampton

Renowned composer and University professor Michael Finnissy completes Mozart requiem

Published: 14 November 2011
Professor Michael Finnissy

Composer, pianist and professor of composition at the University of Southampton, Michael Finnissy has completed the Mozart Requiem – creating his own interpretation of the parts left missing after the 18th century composer’s death.

Professor Finnissy comments, “It was a great challenge to complete such a well-known, much discussed work, but I have tried to build on the foundations of the existing movements, to create a composition which complements the original.

I imagined Mozart in the present day, working to complete the Requiem, looking back across the centuries which have passed since his death. I asked myself what composers, musical genres and historical events would have influenced him since 1791 – this helped to shape my work.”

In the summer of 1791 an anonymous patron asked Mozart to write a Requiem Mass.On the composer’s death in early December of the same year, he’d only completed the first six sections, eight bars of the seventh, and the eighth and ninth sections out of a total of thirteen.A few months after Mozart’s death, his former assistant Franz Xaver Süssmayr completed sections which had been ‘sketched out’ by the composer and added his own music to ‘finish’ the Requiem.

He has completed Mozart Requiem
Professor Michael Finnissy

In more recent times, musicologists have attempted to create the Requiem as they believe Mozart would have finished it, but Michael Finnissy is one of very few composers to complete it in a contemporary way. He has kept Mozart’s original parts, completed the seventh in the style of the composer and rewritten parts ten to thirteen in his own way – partly influenced by composers who lived between Mozart’s time and the present day. These final three parts could be regarded as ‘pure’ Finnissy.

He comments, “It is possible to take brief ideas or longer phrases from past composers and work with them to create something new and original. “Rather like a new and modern church growing from the remains of an older building, my composition has grown from Mozart’s original material.”

A specially-assembled choir and orchestra (guest principals, University of Southampton Music Department staff and students, and members of Southampton University Symphony Orchestra), along with bass-baritone Matthew Brook, will give Mozart Requiem K626 – A New Completion by Michael Finnissy its world premiere at St Michael’s Church, Bugle Street, Southampton on Sunday 20 November 2011 at 7pm. Michael Finnissy will conduct.

A second performance will take place at St Michael’s and All Angels Church, Victoria Road, Brighton on Saturday 26 November 2011 at 7pm with a pre-performance talk at 6pm. Tickets are available for both at

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