Lot 123
  • 123

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
  • Fine autograph manuscript of the Contredanse in C for Orchestra "La Bataille", K. 535, composed in 1788
  • paper
THE AUTOGRAPH SCORE OF THE COMPLETE WORK, bearing a boldly written autograph title ("La Battaille.") at the head of the manuscript, scored for two violins, flageolet ("flauto piccolo"), two clarinets, bassoon, trumpet, tenor drum ("trommel"), violoncello and double bass ("Bassi"), notated in brown ink on one eight-stave system per page, with autograph superscriptions marking the different sections of the work ("[Parte] 1:ma [bb.1-16]...[Parte] 2da [bb.17-32]...[Parte] 3:za [bb.33-48]...[Parte] 4.ta [bb.49-63]...Marcia turca: [bb.64-86]"), a few autograph corrections, deletions and revisions

6 pages, oblong 4to (c.23.3 x 31.8cm), a bifolium (double leaf) and a single leaf of 12-stave paper, watermark of three moons and "VA" (or "AV") underneath a crown (Tyson Watermark 95), uncut, retaining the original "Deckle" edge, autograph foliation in ink "1"-"3", as well as a modern pencil foliation, several later manuscript annotations in ink and pencil, including (on page 1): attestation of authenticity in upper right-hand corner by Georg Nikolaus von Nissen ("Von Mozart und seiner Handschrift"), erroneous date, below this, of "1791." in the hand of Johann Anton André, "No 8" (top left-hand corner) in the hand of the unidentified, so-called "Grauer Schreiber" who assisted in the ordering of Mozart's estate, followed by "gestochen" (i.e. "printed"), apparently in another hand; the pencil number "74" in a box in the right-hand margin refers to the position of the work in Mozart's own thematic catalogue; pinholes, modern morocco gilt, no place or date, [Vienna, by 23 January 1788], small tear at hinge of bifolium, repaired, some very light foxing and staining to margins


Private collection (2004); Bodmer Library, Cologny-Geneva; Heirs of Stefan Zweig, London; H. Hinterberger Catalogue 18 (1937), no. 171, and Catalogue IX (1935), no. 275; Leo Liepmannsohn Auction 55 (12 October 1929), no. 29; August André, Offenbach; Constanze Mozart, Vienna


Erik Smith, Mozart Serenades, Divertimenti & Dances (London, 1982); Emily Anderson (trans.), The Letters of Mozart and his family (London, 1985), p. 842; The Mozart Compendium, ed. H.C.Robbins Landon (London, 1990), pp.276-283 ('Dance and Ballet' by David Wyn Jones); Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, X/33, Abteilung 2 ("Wasserzeichen-Katalog"), prepared by Alan Tyson (Kassel, 1992); Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, IV/13, Abteilung 1 ("Tänze")/2, ed. Marius Flothuis (Kassel, 1988), and Kritischer Bericht (1995); Wolfgang Plath, 'A sketch-leaf for Mozart's contredanse 'La Bataille K. 535', Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven: Studies in the Music of the Classical Period: Essays in Honour of Alan Tyson, ed. Sieghard Brandenburg (Oxford, 1998), pp. 115-125

Catalogue Note

THIS IS A COMPLETE WORK BY MOZART, THE ONLY SUCH AUTOGRAPH TO BE OFFERED AT AUCTION IN THESE ROOMS SINCE 1991 (i.e. since the sale of the Church Sonata K.329 (317a) on 6 December 1991: lot 137).



Dance music and a passion for dancing formed a vital thread running through Mozart's whole life. Michael Kelly, the first Don Basilio, recorded in his autobiography that the composer's wife Constanze observed that 'great as his genius was, he was an enthusiast in dancing, and often said that his taste lay in that art rather than in music'. Indeed, references to Mozart's passion for the terpsichorean muse abound. A supposed one-time pupil of the great Vestris, Mozart is recorded in his Salzburg days by the diarist Schiedenhofen as having attended a fancy-dress ball as a barber's apprentice. In January 1783 in Vienna Mozart himself gave a ball, and two months later he took part in a masquerade in the famous Redoutensaal of the Vienna Hofburg (letter to Leopold Mozart, 12 March 1783):

...On Carnival Monday our group of masqueraders went to the Redout, where we performed a pantomime which exactly filled the half hour when there is a pause in the dancing. My sister-in-law was Columbine, I was Harlequin, my brother-in-law Pierrot, an old dancing master (Merk) Pantaloon, and a painter (Grassi) the doctor. Both the plot and the music of the pantomime were mine. Merk, the dancing master, was so kind as to coach us, and I must say that we played it charmingly...

A very late and somewhat melancholic account of Mozart's dancing is given by Joseph Deiner who saw him dancing in his room with Constanze during the winter of 1790 in an effort to keep warm.

Between 1769, the date of his first surviving dances (the Seven Minuets, K.65a) and 1791, the last year of his life, Mozart composed over 30 sets of dances, as well as a number of independent works (in all several dozen contredanses and German dances and well over a hundred minuets). As Kammermusicus to the court of Joseph II from December 1787 onwards (this was the only official post in Vienna that he ever held), Mozart was called upon to provide music for the series of Carnival balls held in the Redoutensaal before Lent. The famous alleged comment by Mozart on once receiving payment for this task - "Too much for what I do; too little for what I could do" - implies a certain bitterness towards this task which is nowhere reflected in the actual music. In fact, on account of their richness of melodic invention and refinement of scoring, Mozart's Viennese dances have always occupied a special place within his instrumental oeuvre.

The main dance forms of the day were the aristocratic and somewhat formal minuet, the more 'modern' and energetic German dance, and the contredanse, an old dance like the minuet, but one designed for a group rather than a couple and notated chiefly in 2/4 time (as is "La Bataille"). Mozart clearly felt a special affinity towards the contredanse in his Vienna years, for its clear-cut melodic style and 'catchy' rhythms are ever present in his more 'serious' music from this time (e.g. in the finales of the Symphony in E flat, K.543, and the String Quartet in F, K.590, the opening theme of the latter representing a virtuosic recreation, in string-quartet terms, of the theme of the Contredanse "Der Sieg vom Helden Coburg", K.587). Unforgettable, too, the tour de force of the combination of contredanse, minuet and German dance in the Act I finale of Don Giovanni.

K.535, entered in Mozart's own thematic catalogue of his works, the Verzeichnüss, under the date of 23 January 1788 ("Den 23ten - Einen Contredanse. Die Batallie à 2 violini, 2 oboe, 1 flautino, 1 tromba e basso"), is typical of a number of Mozart's Viennese dances in its allusion to external, topical events. Entitled on the autograph "La Battaille" (in the Verzeichnüss, "die Batallie"), it is one of two dances associated with events in Austria's war with the Turks, 1788-1791; the other being the slightly shorter contredanse "Der Sieg vom Helden Coburg" K.587, referred to above. A keyboard arrangement of the dance, advertised by Lausch in the Wiener Zeitung on 19 March 1788, bears the title Die Belagerung Belgrads, which refers to the siege of Belgrade by the Austrian army (after formal declaration of hostilities against the Turks on 9 February; Belgrade was finally captured on 8 October 1789 by General Laudon). The work was first published, in keyboard score, by Artaria in 1789 (advertised on 17 January in the Wiener Zeitung).

The dance is in five sections, the last of which is entitled in the autograph "Marcia turca" - an obvious reference to the impending Turkish war (in a 56-bar sketch, which survives on a leaf in private ownership in the USA, the final section is entitled "La Battaille"). Musically, of course, "La Bataille", with its Turkish colouring, joins a line of famous pieces by Mozart which reflected a vogue for all things Turkish, notably the Janissary music in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and the famous "Alla Turca'" finale of the A-major Piano Sonata K.331 (300i). In Die Entführung, the Turkish music always involves the use of turkish drum, cymbals and triangle. While these instruments are not found in K.535 (no doubt considered unsuitable for the refined surroundings of the Redoutensaal), the use of a flageolet ("flauto piccolo") and tenor drum ("trommel"), and the highly unusual instruction to the cellos and basses in the "Marcia turca" section to play 'col legno' ("mit dem Bogen schlagen"), recreate the sound world of the Turkish music, as it were, in a sublimated form.

The score differs strikingly from the sketch, omitting a projected middle section in E minor, and replacing it as it were by an extension of the third part to create a striking climax.

The autograph is written, with relatively few corrections, in the beautiful, fluent script of Mozart's maturest period (in terms of ink and general appearance it resembles parts of the autograph of the "Jupiter" Symphony, written later the same year). The most significant of the manuscript's alterations is the addition, as an afterthought, of eight bars to the "Marcia turca" section, Mozart providing thus a more spacious conclusion to the work. The extra bars, which are notated on the originally blank final page (folio 3 verso), are directed by Mozart to be inserted after bar 70 by means of crosses entered above and below the system.