Ave verum corpus (Mozart)

Ave verum corpus (Hail, true body), (K. 618), is a motet in D major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791. It is a setting of the Latin hymn Ave verum corpus. Mozart wrote it for Anton Stoll, a friend who was the church musician of St. Stephan in Baden bei Wien. The motet was composed for the feast of Corpus Christi; the autograph is dated 17 June 1791. It is scored for SATB choir, string instruments and organ.

Ave verum corpus
Motet by W. A. Mozart
St. Stephan, Baden,
the church for which Mozart composed the motet
KeyD major
CatalogueK. 618
OccasionCorpus Christi
TextAve verum corpus
Composed17 June 1791 (1791-06-17): Baden bei Wien
VocalSATB chorus
  • strings
  • organ


Mozart composed the motet in 1791 in the middle of writing his opera Die Zauberflöte.[1] He wrote it while visiting his wife Constanze, who was pregnant with their sixth child and staying in the spa Baden bei Wien.[1] Mozart set the 14th century Eucharistic hymn in Latin "Ave verum corpus". He wrote the motet for Anton Stoll, a friend of his and of Joseph Haydn.[2] Stoll was the musical director of the parish St. Stephan, Baden.[3] The setting was composed to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi; the autograph is dated 17 June 1791. (The Feast of Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, and in 1791 was observed on May 25.) The composition is only forty-six bars long and is scored for SATB choir, string instruments, and organ. Mozart's manuscript contains minimal directions, with only a single sotto voce marking at the beginning.

The motet was composed less than six months before Mozart's death.[2] It foreshadows "aspects of the Requiem such as declamatory gesture, textures, and integration of forward- and backward-looking stylistic elements".[4] While the Requiem is a dramatic composition, the motet expresses the Eucharistic thoughts with simple means, suited for the church choir in a small town.[2][5]

Franz Liszt quotes Mozart's motet in the piano piece Evocation à la Chapelle Sixtine.[6] Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky incorporates an orchestration of Liszt's transcription in his fourth orchestral suite, Mozartiana, Op. 61.[7]


The beginning of the melody is as follows:



  1. p. 372, Küster, Whittall (1996) Konrad, Mary. Oxford Mozart: a Musical Biography Oxford University Press
  2. Ave Verum Corpus, K 618 britannica.com, retrieved 31 May 2018
  3. p. 351, Heartz (2009) Daniel. New York. Mozart, Haydn and Early Beethoven: 1781–1802 W. W. Norton & Co.
  4. p. 33, Wolff (1998) Christoph. Berkeley, California Mozart's Requiem: Historical and Analytical Studies, Documents, Score University of California Press. Whittall (translator) Mary
  5. Rusch: Abraham: Mozart’s Communion: A Holistic Harmonic Analysis of “Ave Verum Corpus” pages.stolaf.edu, 14 March 2014, retrieved 31 May 2018
  6. pp. 42–43, Walker (1996) Alan. Ithaca, New York Franz Liszt: The Final Years 1861–1886 Cornell University Press
  7. p. 115, Brown (1992) David. New York Tchaikovsky: The final years, 1885–1893 W. W. Norton & Co.
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