12 pages, small oblong 4to (c. 17 x 22.5cm), 10-stave paper (Tyson 31), uncut, with, on the first page, a manuscript dating by Johann Anton André ("177-."), an attestation by Heinrich Henkel ("Diese sechs Blätter sind / W.A. Mozart's Handschrift / H. Henkel / Kgl. MD."), and a manuscript numbering ('Nro 27') by Franz Gleißner, seemingly in the same ink as the title, fitted red calf gilt folder, light foxing to first and last leaf, otherwise in good condition, remains of mount to fourth page
Since the nineteenth-century this manuscript has been only fleetingly available for study, and we know of no published reproductions of the autograph, with the exception of an illustration of one page in the catalogue for Sotheby's sale on 6 December 1996 (lot 164). The manuscript was not examined by the British expert on Mozart's papers and their watermarks, Alan Tyson.
It is one of the most impressive single manuscripts arising from Mozart's concentrated canonic and contrapuntal studies in Salzburg between 1772 and 1774 (its dating to c. 1773 is suggested by the handwriting and the paper, which is of a type first used by Mozart in Salzburg in March 1773). It is Tyson's paper-type no.31, ie "Type I" of the five types of Klein-Querformat paper identified by him as having been used by Mozart between 1773 and 1779)
Mozart probably came across the canonic Stabat mater of Marchese Eugenio di Ligniville, Prince of Conca (1730-1788) when he met the composer in April 1770 in Florence during his first Italian journey. Ligniville, of whom a fine portrait by Angelo Crescimbeni survives among the portraits in the Padre Martini collection in Bologna, was then director of music at the court of Tuscany. Leopold Mozart described him as 'the finest expert in counterpoint in the whole of Italy' and recorded that he 'placed the most difficult fugues before Wolfgang and gave him the most difficult themes, which he played off and worked out as easily as one eats a piece of bread'. That meeting and Ligniville's music will still have resonated with Mozart a few years later in Salzburg when he composed the arcane tour de force which is the canonic Kyrie for five soprano voices, K. 89, and when he prepared the present manuscript.
The basis for Mozart's partial transcription(-cum-realization) - in which we glimpse Mozart in the very act of studying a highly technical aspect of his craft - is presumed to have been the first of at least two authorized published versions (not distinguished by RISM in the entry for L 2416). In the first edition (published by April 1767, to judge, as John Rice has noted, from a notice in the Gazzetta Toscana), all the canons transcribed by Mozart are notated in one-part form with entry-indications for the other parts; in the later, somewhat expanded, edition, which describes Ligniville as 'Direttore della Musica della real Corte di Toscana' (his appointment to this post was only announced in 1768), the canons are presented in score. While the text of the latter edition clearly diverges from Mozart's manuscript in places, it should be noted that Mozart does not reproduce the text of the first edition exactly either: bb. 31ff. of Mozart's first section, for example, diverge considerably from the model: where Mozart has 6 bars (bb. 31-36) Ligniville has 29.
The importance of the manuscript lies particularly in the light it sheds on Mozart's contrapuntal studies, complementing as it does the scattered complex of manuscripts - including K. Anh. 109d (73x) - in which Mozart wrestled with the puzzle canons from Padre Martini's Storia della musica. When in 1785 Joseph Haydn famously stated to Leopold Mozart, then visiting his son in Vienna, that Mozart possessed 'taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition', he was stating no more than the truth. The autograph of K. Anh. A 17 is a testament to the fact that such knowledge was not acquired easily by Mozart, but rather was the result of painstaking and concentrated effort.
The unnumbered sections from Ligniville's Stabat mater transcribed by Mozart are the following (numbers in square brackets indicate the order in Mozart's autograph; canon descriptions are based on the 1767 edition; clef details are those of the autograph):
 'Stabat mater' (= Largo. Canone ad unisonum, S, S, S clefs)
 'Cuius animam gementem' (= Andante. Canon ad unisonum et octavam, A, A, B clefs)
 'Quae maerebat' (= Larghetto. Canon ad unisonum, A, A, A clefs)
 'Quis non posset' (= Canon ad quartam inferiorem et octavam, S, A, T clefs)
 'Pro peccatis' (= Andante. Canon ad unisonum, S, S, S clefs)
 'Vidit suum' (= Andante. Canon ad octavam inferiorem, S, S, T clefs)
 'Virgo virginum' (= Canon ad unisonum et octavam inferiorem, S, S, S - not T, as in Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, X/28/Abteilung 3-5/3 - clefs)
 'Fac, ut portem' (= Larghetto moderato. Canon ad unisonum, S, S, S clefs)
 'Inflammatus' (= Andante. Canon ad unisonum, S, S, S clefs). As remarked in Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, X/28/Abteilung 3-5/3, p. 120 n. 30, the description in K.6 of the movements transcribed by Mozart is misleading.
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