The World's most beautiful music: Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus

>> Saturday, March 22, 2008

The first time I sang this motet I wept. In typical Mozart fashion, he has taken a simple, yet tender melody and woven it in such a way as to move a person to the very core of the soul.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's setting of Ave verum corpus (K. 618) was written for Anton Stoll (a friend of his and Haydn's) who was musical co-ordinator in the parish of Baden, near Vienna. It was composed to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi and the autograph is dated 17 June 1791. It is only forty-six bars long and is scored for choir, stringed instruments, and organ. Mozart's manuscript itself contains minimal directions, with only a single sotto voce at the beginning.

Mozart composed this motet while in the middle of writing his opera Die Zauberflöte, and while visiting his wife Constanze, who was pregnant with their sixth child and staying in a spa near Baden. The piece was used as a trade to pay the rent for Constanze's apartment at the spa. It was less than six months before Mozart's death.

Sung here by the Vienna Boy's Choir, you'll hear why I regard it as some of the World's most beautiful music.





2 comments:

Kathy Handyside March 22, 2008 at 10:59 PM  

Oh, God - this always brings tears to my eyes! I've sung it a few times at different churches. What it gives the listener is just beyond description. "Sublime", "Beautiful" - all the adjectives are pale attempts at rendering what this music is. So simple, but oh so complex. It's perfect, just perfect. Thanks, Nettl! I loved listening to it.

Lynette March 23, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

You're welcome! It's my pleasure. :)

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