7 Klangräume

Year of composition
accompanying the unfinished fragments of Mozart’s Requiem
Scored for
for choir and orchestra
Georg Friedrich Haas
Text source
quotations from Mozart’s letters
0 0 0 2 – 0 2 3 0 – perc, org, basset hn(2), str(6 5 4 3 3)
Instrumentation details

1st basset horn
2nd basset horn
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb
1st tenor trombone
2nd tenor trombone
bass trombone
violin I (1st desk)
violin I (2nd desk)
violin I (3rd desk)
violin II (1st desk)
violin II (2nd desk)
violin II (3rd desk)
viola (1st desk)
viola (2nd desk)
violoncello (1st desk)
violoncello (2nd desk)
contrabass (1st desk)
contrabass (2nd desk)

Commissioned by

Auftragswerk der Internationalen Stiftung Mozarteum
The work finishes with the 7th Klangraum. It should not be followed by the movements of the Requiem that were not composed by Mozart (Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Lux aeterna) and were supplemented by a third party.


World Premiere

Location: Mozarteum Salzburg / Austria
Date: 04.12.2005
Orchestra: Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg
Salzburger Bachchor
Conductor: Ivor Bolton

Work introduction

At the end of April 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart applied for the position of second Kapellmeister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, hoping to inherit the position from Leopold Hofmann, the incumbent Kapellmeister. The City Council of Vienna accepted Mozart’s petition in a letter dated 9 May, 1791. The composer Georg Friedrich Haas used this strongly worded decree as a basis for the text in the vocal passages of his Sieben Klangräume accompanying the unfinished fragments of Mozart’s Requiem KV 626.

All of the parts of the Requiem composed by Mozart himself – in other words, the individual movements of the main parts Introitus/Kyrie, Sequentia and Offertorium – exist in a complete four-part vocal score with organ bass (with the exception of Lacrimosa, which breaks off after eight bars); of these, only the first movement is fully orchestrated. However, the four-part vocal arrangement already contains virtually all of the key musical aspects: theme, harmony, melody, dynamics and modulation.

According to Haas, “Mozart sketched out the main musical voices for the whole piece, producing almost a skeleton of the work” – in other words, fragments of sound. This was the approach used by Haas for his Klangräume (sound spaces): “In between these fragments of sound, I was able to add a different sound world – one in the style of the early 21st century.”

Haas regarded the Requiem fragment, which Mozart left behind, as “sacrosanct”. The only aspect that Haas adopted from Mozart – for the most part – was his orchestration: mixed choir, mostly with four voices as Mozart intended, but also extended to include as many as 16 voices for the spoken passages; basset horns, bassoons, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, strings (with frequent solos); organ; percussion to expand on Mozart’s instrumentation (crotales, whip, guiro, tam-tam and ratchet); but no vocal soloists. Haas does not use any musical material written by Mozart. He only uses the key signature of D minor on which he builds a series of harmonics for his composition.

However, Haas responds powerfully to the nature of the fragments. With regard to Klangraum V, which comes after the eight-bar Lacrimosa fragment, he was clear that “no note should be heard after it!” Therefore, only percussion sounds can be heard – and the breathing of the orchestra. The musicians have to perform a modern piece about death, in which the sound space becomes a hospital room where only the quiet sounds of a life-support machine can be heard along with the breathing of the dying man.
Haas sees the last words that Mozart wrote in the score as “the unattainable wish of a dying man”: “quam olim da capo” (repeat the section “Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini ejus” – “Let them, O Lord, pass over from death to life, as you once promised to Abraham and his seed”). In the following Klangraum VII, Haas refers directly to Mozart’s score for the only time and takes the da capo literally: “I composed this passage again, but only the music to the words ‘quam olim’; I eliminated everything else around it. The ‘quam olim’ is now repeated in a form which is dense, slower and fading, with varying pitches” – until the sound finally leaves the last space.

The choir does not sing any of the words from the Requiem. Instead, it sings about Mozart’s life as an artist in the time leading up to the composition of the Requiem. “Based on the hypothesis that Mozart was constantly preoccupied with the injuries inflicted by his social environment – which, in other words, were part of his thoughts and feelings”, Haas used the letter from the City Council of Vienna answering Mozart’s petition for the position of assistant to the Kapellmeister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. “Although Mozart is offered the position, he is granted it with such administrative brutality, which shows a total lack of understanding of everything related to art.” In Klangräume I to IV, the choir takes passages from this text as fragments of an absurd administrative document which orders the artist Mozart to take up an “unpaid post”. Finally, in Klangraum VI, which opens with a scream, the crack of a whip and a ratchet (a “sacred” instrument and therefore wielded by the organist), the full text is performed as a spoken adaptation by all of the voices of the choir.
Haas uses the orchestral instruments to echo and foretell the moods in Mozart’s fragments, adding intricate tonal contrasts to the polyphonic richness of Mozart’s music. He adopts completely different compositional methods to establish connections to Mozart’s composition: in Klangraum I, for instance, a slow crescendo develops into a scream by the whole orchestra and is followed directly by Mozart’s Tuba mirum – the lonely trombone of the Last Judgement.

Rainer Lepuschitz

“The work finishes with the 7th Klangraum. It should not be followed by the movements of the Requiem that were not composed by Mozart (Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Lux aeterna) and were supplemented by a third party.”

Future performances

20.07.2017 – Festival Rheinvokal
Location: St. Kastor, Koblenz (D), Orchestra: SWR Symphonieorchester, Conductor: Risto Joost
22.07.2017 – Europäisches Kirchenmusikfestival
Location: Heilig Kreuz Münster, Schwäbisch Gmünd (D), Orchestra: SWR Symphonieorchester, Conductor: Risto Joost
Location: Friedenskirche, Potsdam (D), Orchestra: Kammerakademie Potsdam
Location: zko-Haus, Zürich (CH), Orchestra: Zürcher Kammerorchester, Conductor: Arb Tobias von
Location: zko-Haus, Zürich (CH), Orchestra: Zürcher Kammerorchester, Conductor: Arb Tobias von

Ensembles that have played this work

Bochumer Symphoniker
Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Zürcher Kammerorchester