Mozart’s Requiem + Beethoven

Controversy and scandal have surrounded Mozart’s landmark Requiem from the very beginning. An anonymous patron commissioned the work to commemorate the death of his wife. The patron may or may not have been planning to pass it off as his own composition. Mozart died before he completed the score; he may or may not have left instructions for its completion. His widow enlisted the help of several other composers to finish it after his death, so how much of what we’ll hear during the Houston Symphony’s Mozart’s Requiem + Beethoven was actually written by Mozart is still up for debate.

Betsy Cook Weber, director of the Houston Symphony Chorus, which is set to perform during the concert, enjoys the various stories swirling around Requiem — up to a point. “There’s been a great deal of rumor [about the piece], all of which has been debunked, I believe, but still I love a good story. It adds to the fun and the intrigue of the piece, even when we know that it’s probably not true.”

Among the rumors about the piece is that Mozart had a premonition of his death and knew he was writing the music for his own funeral. “I’ve always thought that was beside the point,” says Weber. “I would think that any composer writing a requiem would be thinking about his own mortality. I’m positive Mozart thought about his death and mortality. Whether or not he thought it was going to come as quickly as it did, I’m not sure. In the end, it really is all about the music. It’s the music that has sustained the piece, not the mysteries and rumors that surround it.”

Beethoven’s Overture to Coriolan and Overture to Egmont are also on the program, as is Brahms’s Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny). Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducts.

8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑224‑7575 or visit $25 to $140.
Thu., Nov. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 23, 2:30 p.m., 2014

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Olivia Flores Alvarez