The Czech Republic is the first and, so far, the last country to welcome Frédéric Chopin's death mask. The year 2010 is to be named The Year of Chopin by UNESCO. At the gala concert, the Chopin Symphony Orchestra and Choir, conducted by the best Polish conductor Lukasz Borowicz, will play Mozart's Requiem - the composition that the Polish composer himself asked to be played at his funeral. Prague's St.Vitus Cathedral's bells and Warsaw's St.John's Cathedral's bells will sound at the same time.
It is actually Chopin's second death mask. The first one, taken right after the composer's passing, was regarded too troubled and weary by the mortal illness. Therefore the sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Clésinger, smoothed out its features. As a miracle, the bronze cast survived the World War II and the bombing of the Royal Palace in Warsaw.
Why Mozart's Requiem? Mozart influenced Chopin a lot. He died 19 year before Chopin, who often returned to Mozart's compositions, which he loved very much - especially his Don Giovanni and Requiem. When Chopin felt that his illness was fighting him, he had sent for its score. His last wish was "play Mozart's Requiem at my funeral, as a farewell."