A new Mozart composition has recently been discovered and all quite by accident. A music scholar made the discovery while going through the personal belongings of a recently deceased church musician and band leader in the Lech Valley of the Austrian Tyrol.
Combing through the dead man’s collection of old music manuscripts he noticed a hand written book with the date ’1780′ on the cover. On pages 12 – 14 she found an unidentified sonata movement with the tempo mark ‘allegro molto’ – the Italian notation for ‘very quickly – and on the upper right hand side of page 12 was written ‘Del Signore Giovane Wolfgango Mozart’, or ‘The young Wolfgango Mozart’.
‘Wolfgango’ was a name Mozart’s father Leopold called him when he was a boy. As the scholar looked further into the manuscript she found several pieces that were already known to have been written by the father, Leopold. Those compositions were respectfully marked ‘Signore Mozart’, or ‘Lord Mozart’.
Although the writing was clearly not in the hand of either Mozart, there was no doubt that the meticulousness of the transcriptions and the accuracy of every verifiable detail throughout the book meant that the composition by ‘The Young Wolfgango Mozart’ was probably an authentic, previously unknown composition.
As they began their investigations into the authentication of the work researchers found the copyists name on the back of the manuscript; Johannes Reiserer. They tracked Reiserer down and found out that he was born in 1765 and had gone to gymnasium in Salzburg where he was a member of the cathedral choir from 1778 – 1780. That would have placed him in close proximity to Leopold Mozart. In The History Blog they write;
Researchers have thus concluded that Johannes Reiserer used the notebook to copy compositions as part of a rigorous program of music instruction by Kapellhaus music masters, perhaps Leopold himself.
Based on the style and the level of accomplishment in the piece, now known as the ‘Allegro Molto in C Major’, researchers place the date of composition at around 1767, when Mozart was 11 years old. A press release from the Institute for Tyrolean Music Research describes the piece:
Mozart frequently selected a C-major key, and the Allegro molto has a sonata form with a length of 84 measures. Its ambitus is tailored to the clavichord. The Allegro molto could be a first major attempt by Wolfgang Amadé to assert himself in the area of the sonata form. This is suggested by the relatively high level of compositional technique….Throughout the Allegro molto, thematic formation, compositional setting and harmony have a number of components that are found repeated in other Mozart piano works. Hardly a compositional detail points to a contradiction with the general characteristics of Mozart’s comsummate musical composition. According to current scholarly knowledge, it must therefore be regarded as an authentic sonata movement by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In the video above you get to hear Austrian musician Florian Birsak giving the premier performance of the piece on Mozart’s own fortepiano at the Mozart family home in Salzburg last week. You can also read a PDF of the score, and download Birsak’s recording at iTunes.
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