137
137
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.
AUTOGRAPH SKETCHLEAF INCLUDING SKETCHES FOR THE CANONS "DIFFICILE LECTU MIHI MARS", K. 559, AND "BONA NOX! BIST A RECHTA OX", K. 561
Estimate
80,000100,000
LOT SOLD. 361,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
137
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.
AUTOGRAPH SKETCHLEAF INCLUDING SKETCHES FOR THE CANONS "DIFFICILE LECTU MIHI MARS", K. 559, AND "BONA NOX! BIST A RECHTA OX", K. 561
Estimate
80,000100,000
LOT SOLD. 361,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.
AUTOGRAPH SKETCHLEAF INCLUDING SKETCHES FOR THE CANONS "DIFFICILE LECTU MIHI MARS", K. 559, AND "BONA NOX! BIST A RECHTA OX", K. 561

notated on staves 10-12 and 6-9, respectively, of the recto of a leaf also containing, on stave 1, the beginning of two autograph horn parts in score for an unidentified overture in B flat, 6 bars in length, with autograph headings and tempo marking ("2 Corni in B alti. Overture. Pag: 1. / Presto."), and on systems 2-5 and 6-9 an autograph exposition of a four-part fugue in C (Konrad Sketch 1788d), 28 bars in length (these last two items mentioned under K.6 626b/2), the contents of the leaf notated in various brown inks, the sketch for the canon K. 561 containing some deletions and corrections 

1 page, oblong 4to (c. 21.5 x 28.5cm), 12-stave machine-ruled paper (not in NMA X/33/2, Wasserzeichen-Katalog [= Watermark 95]), later statement of authenticity to recto by Aloys Fuchs ("Die vollkommene Aechtheit dieser Handschrift des unsterblichen W. A. Mozart bestättigt Aloys Fuchs. Wien. 2. Juli 1846...") and autograph annotation by Max Bruch to verso ("Ich schließe mich der Ansicht des Herrn Aloys Fuchs unbedingt an. Max Bruch. Coblenz, 23. Novbr. 83."), the number "1" in ink at the upper right-hand corner of the recto in the hand of Aloys Fuchs, pencil annotation to verso ("Koblenz 11.XI.21 / 8,000 MK [?]"), framed and glazed, no place or date [Vienna, c. 1788], splitting to central vertical fold repaired on verso, with translucent adhesive tape, light spotting, trimmed on all sides


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Provenance

[Constanze Mozart (1762-1842)]; Aloys Fuchs, of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna (1799-1853); Max Bruch, composer (1838-1920); J.G. Prod'homme, musicologist (1871-1956); untraced since 1935.

Literature

Neue Mozart-Ausgabe [NMA] X/33/2 [Watermark catalogue prepared by Alan Tyson; the sketchleaf was not examined by Tyson] (Kassel, etc., 1992), p. 44-45; NMA X/30/3, Skizzen, (Sketchleaf 1788b), p. 46; Ulrich Konrad, Mozarts Schaffensweise (Göttingen, 1992), pp. 187-188 and 333; Neal Zaslaw, 'The non-canonic status of Mozart's canons', Eighteenth-Century Music, iii (2006), pp. 109-123.

Catalogue Note

A spectacular, rare and long-untraced, sketchleaf  for two of Mozart's celebrated vocal canons, the three-part "Difficile lectu mihi Mars", K. 559, and the four-part "Bona nox! bist a rechta Ox", K. 561, dating from perhaps the most famous summer in musical history, that of Mozart's annus mirabilis, 1788, which saw the composition of his three last symphonies. Recorded in Köchel6 as being in the possession in 1935 of the French musicologist J. G. Prod'homme (1871-1956), the leaf has been unavailable for consultation by modern Mozart scholarship; it was not examined by the great English Mozart scholar Alan Tyson.

The canons "Difficile lectu mihi Mars", K. 559, and "Bona nox! bista rechta Ox!", K. 561, were just two of a group of ten canons entered by Mozart in his own thematic catalogue of his works, the Verzeichnüss, on 2 September 1788, less than a month after the entry for the 'Jupiter' Symphony, K. 551. Designed for performance in the relaxed social setting of Mozart's personal circle, they reveal the composer in his most unbuttoned mood. This is especially true of K. 559 and K. 561, whose comic words were doubtless written by Mozart himself: in the former, a vulgar German text, as well as some ribald Italian ("Leck du mi im Arsch [kiss my arse]" and "cujoni" [balls]), is designed to be discerned phonetically through a thin veil of pseudo-Latin ("Difficile lectu mihi mars et jonicu"); and in the latter, Mozart mixes Latin, Viennese dialect, French, Italian and even English to create a boisterously humorous text which leaves little to the imagination ("Bona nox! bist a rechta Ox; bona notte, liebe lotte! bonne nuit! Pfui Pfui; good night, good night, heut müsma noch weit [we've got a long way to go today]; gute Nacht, gute Nacht, scheiß ins Bett, daß' kracht [shit in your bed till you bust it]; gute Nacht. Schlaff fei g'sund und reck den Arsch zum Mund [sleep well and shove your arse in your mouth]". Not surprisingly, when Breitkopf & Härtel published K. 559 and K. 561 in 1804 in the Oeuvres complettes series (Cahiers XV and XVI, respectively), both were provided with sanitised texts: "Nimm, ist's gleich warm, ist's gleich Sonnenschein" (K. 559); "Gute Nacht! bis der Tag erwacht" (K. 561).

In the (untexted) sketches for the canons, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the composer's creative workshop, Mozart works out in compressed score form the combination of all the parts' individual thematic cells (three in the case of K. 559, and four in the case of K. 561), which are conceived in invertible counterpoint. Both sketches show differences from the canons' final form (as represented by the fair-copy, unilinear, notations surviving in the British Library [K. 559] and Biblioteka Jagiellonska [K. 561]). Noteworthy, for example, in the sketch for "Bona nox!" is its notation in B flat (final version: A major) and the divergence of its third cell from that of the final conception.  

The fragmentary horn parts at the head of the leaf were doubtless intended for an overture by another composer; the heading "Pag: 1." is a reference to the first page of a score for the unidentified work to which Mozart will have had access. A similarly mysterious entry on the leaf is the sketch of a four-part C-major fugal exposition (containing only the four statements of the subject, i.e. without any countersubjects), whose kinship to thematic material from the finale of the 'Jupiter' Symphony, K. 551, is unmistakable. 

 

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