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Mozart’s Religious Beliefs – “Requiem” Essay

Mozart is one of the most significant figures in the world of music. He is one of the brightest representatives of the so-called Classical era. Mozart’s works are light and grand at the same time. The future legend started creating marvelous works in his childhood. One of the most remarkable peculiarities of the process of creation was Mozart’s ability to create music in his head without using dozens of drafts and sketches (Kinderman 17).

This may be the reason why many people call the composer a prodigy and the man who got his inspiration directly from heaven.1 Many people call Mozart as one of the most religious composers as Mozart was a devout Roman Catholic. It is possible to analyze one of his works to understand the way the man and his works were affected by Catholicism. One of the most remarkable works associated with Mozart’s religious beliefs is, of course, Requiem, that was not finished as the composer died.

It is possible to state that religion accompanied the music prodigy since the first days of his life. The music prodigy was born to a family of the future music genius, music teacher, and Kapellmeister Leopold Mozart (Keefe 9). Leopold Mozart was a devout Roman Catholic and, hence, he baptized his seventh child on the next day after he was born. It is also a well-known fact that, as a small boy, Mozart could play the music he heard at the church only once.

It is important to add that the composer’s father paid a lot of attention to the boy’s religious education, fasting, and so on. Due to the father’s job, the family traveled a lot and visited major European capitals and cities. Rome was one of these capitals. Mozart was acquainted with Pope Clement XIV who invited him and gave him the Chivalric Order of the Golden Spur when the boy was only fourteen (“The Vatican Reveals Wolfgang Mozart’s Papal Honour” par. 7).2

It is also important to add that religion played one of the most important roles in all people’s lives (Mozart was not an exception). People attended churches each week, and they sought for guidance and help. The church was a center of the spiritual life of people in the 18th century.

It is important to add that Catholicism still felt the consequences of Reformation, and it always needed something that would glorify the church. Popes paid a lot of attention to people of art and encouraged them to create beautiful pieces devoted to God and the church. Of course, Mozart became one of the artists encouraged and inspired by the Roman Catholic Church.

Prior to the analysis of the factors that influenced the work, it is important to focus on details concerning Requiem Mass in D Minor. The piece is written for violins, viola, cello, organ, double bass, timpani, three trombones, two bassoons, two basset horns, and two trumpets. There is also a vocal part. It includes soprano, tenor, bass, and contralto, as well as a mixed choir. The piece contains fourteen movements divided into seven major parts. They are as follows Introitus, Kyrie Eleison, Sequentia, Offertorium, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communio.

The composer died before he could complete the work. There was only one complete movement (“Requiem aeternam”). The rest lacked for some vocal or orchestral parts. However, even the incomplete piece astounded people. The work was finished by other composers, but Requiem is still one of the most remarkable works by Mozart as his genius managed to provide the frame that could not be spoiled. It is necessary to add that the piece was ordered by an anonymous client (Keefe 17).

The communication was held through a messenger, and the name of the client is still questioned by many researchers. It is also known that the messenger addressed the composer before the latter went to Prague, where one of his operas premiered. Some of his friends stated that Mozart was already quite weak, and he even fainted several times. He got ill in Prague, and his health conditions became worse when he got back to Vienna. He was quite ill and weak when he was working on Requiem.

Wolfgang Mozart wrote about 60 works for the church. However, Requiem Mass in D Minor is still one of the most significant and marvelous works related to religion and spirituality. The work is full of dramatic emphases, grandness, sadness, hope, and despair (Mozart). The composition starts with very smooth and gentle sounds that soon grow into grand accords. It is possible to assume that the composer reveals his understanding of religion and the heavenly in his work.

For him, God is a great soother and an all-forgiving and ever-loving father who is grand and wise. Mozart also reveals the grandness of the church that is the temple of God. The music genius reveals his respect and love. At the same time, it is possible to hear some traces of sadness and despair, as human life is not long. The composer expresses his remorse, as he knows that he will have to leave this world soon. He was dying when he was creating the piece.3

It is possible to trace numerous influences in the artwork. In the first place, this is, of course, religion and the composer’s experiences. Young Mozart visited Rome, the center of Catholicism. He was personally acquainted with the pope, who was God’s vicar. He was raised by a devout Catholic who lived in the Catholic environment. Of course, his childhood and adolescence experiences also made Wolfgang Mozart a devout Catholic. He created music for the royal family and nobility, who were also Catholics.

As has been mentioned above, the piece is also affected by his personal tragedy, his illness that caused his death. Mozart’s wife took Requiem score from him as she felt that the work on the piece was taking too much energy and “was getting on his over-sensitive nerves” (qt. in Keefe 15). The great composer sensed that he was going to die soon, and he revealed his sadness and despair in his music work.

Apart from that, it is also possible to trace another factor that influenced the work. Social class (Mozart pertained to and had certain access to) had a significant impact on all his works, including Requiem. He worked for the court of the royal family and nobility. His life was more similar to the life of nobility than it was to the life of peasants, merchants, and so on.

This made his works exquisite, light, and, of course, sophisticated. Remarkably, even though Requiem is grand and quite dark, it remains exquisite and quite light (compared to other composers’ works).

Notably, when listening to the piece without knowing the background information about it, quite different ideas may come to one’s head. Of course, the listener would feel something that relates to his/her life experiences. Every work of art appeals to a person’s experiences and knowledge, emotions, and feelings.

However, it is likely that these will be ideas concerning the person’s spirituality and self-identity. At the same time, when the listener knows about the composer’s life and knows the circumstances under which the work was created, he/she will focus on such issues as religion, life, and death, god and man, love, and despair.

In conclusion, it is possible to state that Requiem Mass in D Minor is one of the most remarkable pieces ever created. The music piece is surrounded by many secrets and untold stories. At the same time, the piece is majestic as it speaks to people’s hearts. It is one of the most renowned religious musical pieces. Mozart managed to reveal his understanding of Catholicism, and this vision still coincides with the way people see the Catholic Church as well as any other church in the world.

It is easy to prove that as Requiem is still listened to and people still find something important for them. Of course, it is clear that apart from the religious element, the composer also expressed his emotions on life and death. He knew that he was dying, and he was making Requiem for himself. When listening to the piece, people feel the emotions the composer shared. This may be the reason why the composition is still used by people in the 21st century.

Works Cited

Brown, Frank Burch. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.

Keefe, Simon P. Mozart’s Requiem: Reception, Work, Completion. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.

Kinderman, William. The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtag. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Print.

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Requiem Mass in D Minor. K. 626.

Vatican Reveals Wolfgang Mozart’s Papal Honour. 2011. Web.

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