Posted at 8:10 AM on December 29, 2006
by John Zech
Filed under: The blog
This has been the year of Mozart. To mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, Austria invested about 30 million euros in events promoting Salzburg's most famous son, and it has paid off handsomely for all concerned. Now, to cap off the celebrations, a new piece by the young Wolfie has been discovered and authenticated. The facsimile score for this "Allegro di Wolfgango Mozart" will be officially presented and played by clavichordist Florian Birsak today.
Some time ago, the archives of the city's episcopal office were offered unsigned keyboard works, including this "Allegro." Detailed tests led experts to conclude that the piece was indeed written by Mozart when he was between six and 10 years old. A second score in the collection may also be by him.
Writers celebrating the Mozart tercentenary in 2056 will no doubt find late-twentieth-century views of Mozart as expressed in performance and criticism as blinkered as those of our predecessors seem to us. Surely, in the realm of performance we shall be charged with want of humor and -- who knows? -- of innocence: we know the humor is there but are inhibited about bringing it out. We do have some feeling for his emotional range, for the thin line between laughter and tears,for his dissonances and this rhythmic oddities (those five-bar phrases I never heard about at school), for the color of his sound. We have heard a wider range of his music than any generation since his own, we have some sense of historical context for him. We know that he too worked too hard and sometimes had trouble making pieces come out right.
I want to see him without even a trace of halo, to love him, but not to adopt him or idolize him, to come to him -- as to all great music -- with the ears, the goodwill, the attentiveness, the heart, and, I hope, with the human experience to awaken him.
Michael Steinberg, from "Tchaikovsky's Mozart (and Others'), in For the Love of Music