The harvest is small and unpre-possessing. For it is scarcely to be expected that mere chance should bring to light again the autographs of those larger works of Mozart’s whose loss is so distressing…—Alfred Einstein, 1948
Balazs Mikusi was working at the National Szechenyi Library in Budapest recently when he stumbled across every musicologist’s dream. There, among some unidentified documents, were several pages in handwriting he recognized immediately: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s.
It turns out what Mikusi had found was a rare manuscript copy of Mozart’s most famous piano sonata, Sonata in A, K.331, the one with the famous “Rondo alla Turca” finale.
The score, which has now been authenticated as an original by top Mozart scholars, has been creating a stir in the world of classical piano performance where passages in the sonata’s minuet section have been altered over the years, under an assumption that its first edition contained errors Mozart could not possibly have written. Mikusi’s discovery confirms that the first edition is, in fact, correct.
Here is a playlist of pianist Zoltan Kocsis performing from the manuscript at a private concert at the National Szechenyi Library earlier this month.
Anytime a new manuscript by Mozart turns up there’s bound to be excitement. For a little fun, check out this 1948 essay by musicologist Alfred Einstein, cousin of Albert, on recent Mozartian discoveries of the day.
Einstein writes charmingly about a then-freshly discovered autograph of the “Prague Dances”, K. 509, “Mozart needed money. One can recognize this even in the carelessness of the notation; seldom did Mozart make more frequent use of the conventional abbreviations of his day. Yet he was at the same time incapable of making a servile copy, however faithfully he may have followed the layout of the original.”