Late Works by Great Composers
This season's last performance of What Makes it Great with Rob Kapilow focuses on Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, one of the composers final works.
When it comes to last words, there is a kind of poetry in even the most tragic ones. The same could be said of last works by famous composers. These five works all show their composers at the height of their powers, even though they all would pass on shortly thereafter.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791)
Requiem: Left Unfinished
Composed in 1791, Requiem Mass in D minor was commissioned by an anonymous nobleman who had intended to pass off the work as his own to commemorate the death of his wife.
Ludwig van Beethoven
(17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827)
String Quartet Op. 130 (published 1827)
Beethoven sketched at least a dozen possible finale themes before deciding on a gigantic fugue, only to be changed in September 1826 to a much lighter one.
Johann Sebastian Bach
(31 March 1658 – 28 July 1750)
Mass in B minor (completed 1749)
Most of the work's component parts date from various times in Bach's long residence in Leipzig; they were assembled to form a complete mass only near the end of his life.
(31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809)
The Creation (completed 1798)
In 1808 (the year before Haydn’s death), a performance of The Creation was organized in honor of its composer. On his arrival, he was carried on an armchair and met Ludwig Van Beethoven and Maestro Antonio Salieri.
(31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828)
Winterreise (published 1828)
Composed almost entirely of minor keys, Winterreise conveys a mournful character that reflects some of the personal trauma that Schubert was experiencing during the end of his life.