Mozart and Smyth: Their Final Works

On Friday, May 11, the audience in Carnegie Hall will hear The Cecilia Chorus of New York, with full orchestra and six soloists, singing Mozart’s Requiem, written as he lay dying, and The Prison, the last major work of Dame Ethel Smyth before she lost her hearing, which put an end to her prolific musical career. Our mid-winter concert on March 4 ended with Gounod's Requiem, written for his four year-old grandson but completed only days before Gounod's own death. 

What can we learn from composers’ last works?

Mark Shapiro, Music Director

Mark Shapiro, Music Director

Music Director Mark Shapiro: “Composers, like any of us, engage in soul-searching later in life. An artist’s ‘late style’ typically entails both a summing up and a concentrated seeking that are charged with the wisdom and perspective earned through a lifetime of art-making. All of us are deepened—our lives become fuller and more joyful—when we are confronted with the inevitability of our own mortality and that of those we love. Artists especially can invoke and communicate this deepening, and lead us to experience it ourselves in a beautiful, exhilarating way.”

Read our Carnegie Hall Playbill program notes by Dame Ethel Smyth expert Liz Smith here and Music Director Mark Shapiro here.


Mozart died in late 1791, before he could complete his Requiem. Many attempts have since been made to complete the work, the best known being that of his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr. For our May 11 performance, Music Director Mark Shapiro has chosen the 1995 edition by Robert D. Levin. "I had the privilege of attending classes taught by Robert Levin when I was a student and then administrator at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. I vividly remember Levin's astounding intellect and musical mind. He is extraordinarily qualified to tackle the delicate challenge of providing a new completion of Mozart’s unfinished Requiem. As beloved as the traditional Süssmayr version is, I, like many other conductors, have always been aware of its occasional infelicities and heaviness. Levin has a lighter touch, and his deeply considered solutions are markedly elegant and graceful."