5 fully scored pages and 3 blanks on 4 leaves [2 gathered bifolia], oblong 4to (22.8 x 29.7cm), 12-stave machine-ruled paper (not in NMA X/33/2, Wasserzeichen Katalog [= Watermark IV]), ties, modern pencil foliation ('1'-'4'), library stamps of the Musikarchiv Stift Göttweig to fols. 2r and 3r, together with an octavo leaf containing a manuscript transcription of much of the entry for the Kyrie in the third edition of the Köchel catalogue (1937), possibly in the hand of Maximilian Zenger, no place or date [Salzburg, 1772], some very light spotting, browning to edges and to blank fols. 3v and 4r
This is the most substantial and important autograph music manuscript by Mozart to have been offered at auction for ten years.
The manuscript has been unavailable for consultation since the 1930s. Its re-emergence now represents a significant Mozart discovery.
One of the most notable of all Mozart's unfinished compositions.
The music of the 49-bar Kyrie is on the grand scale, and of the finest quality - certainly Mozart will not have set aside the work on account of any dissatisfaction with it. Had it been completed it, it would certainly have ranked among the composer's mostly closely-worked Kyrie movements. A 14-bar slow introduction provides one of the most thrilling openings to any Mozart mass before the great C-minor - built up strikingly with a pause on a weighty initial C-major chord, followed by a softly dramatic rising sequential passage that yields to bold forte chords, before sinking down quietly on the dominant. Admirably contrasted is the following Allegro section, by turns emphatic and lyrical, which regrettably breaks off after the choral repetition of a generously-proportioned 20-bar orchestral ritornello.
At his death Mozart left in the region of 150 independent fragmentary compositions, works which, for whatever reason, were never completed (these in addition to rejected drafts for around 50 finished scores). The present Kyrie fragment occupies a worthy place among other famously incomplete church works of Mozart, notably the dramatic D-minor Kyrie, K.341 (368a), dating probably from around 1781, the mighty torso of the great C-minor Mass, K. 427 (417a), from Mozart's early Vienna years, and of course the sublime Requiem, K.626, written at the very end of Mozart's life, perhaps the iconic music fragment, which has come to symbolise the composer's tragically cut-short life. Before Mozart settled in Vienna at the age of 25 in 1781, where his musical universality found an outlet in all the major genres, especially comic opera, it was arguably above all in the field of church music that Mozart's genius found its greatest expression. It was certainly no casual claim, when Mozart himself later noted, in a draft letter from 1790 petitioning the Archduke Francis, that he had made himself, from his youth up, 'completely familiar' with music for the church. For many admirers of the composer, Mozart 'became' Mozart only with the composition of such masterpieces as the Piano Concerto in E flat, K.271 (1777), or the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, K.364 (1779 or later). To take this view, however, would be to overlook, such compositions as the fourteen-year-old Wolfgang's 'Dominicus' Mass, K.66 (1769), whose 'Et incarnatus est' contains a genuine Mozartean miracle, the ravishing Litaniae Lauretanae K.195 (1774), and the truly wonderful masses in F, K. 192 (1774), and E flat, K.275 (1777), which blend in extraordinary fashion piercing melodic and harmonic sweetness with masterly contrapuntal and structural organization - all works which leave the majority of the composer's other contemporary works in other musical genres trailing far behind in terms of technical and expressive maturity.
The fragment, as is usual with unfinished manuscripts of Mozart's - and indeed not uncommon in the case of his finished works, is neither dated nor signed by the composer. Here the paper is of little help in providing a sure date, since in this case Mozart drew upon a stock of 'old' paper that he had brought back to Salzburg from his first journey to Italy (where paper of the same type was used to write the serenata Ascanio in Alba. K. 111), and such a reserve could theoretically have been used by Mozart in Salzburg at any subsequent time (in the event, paper of the same type was used to write the Litaniae de venerabili altaris sacramento, K.125, dated March 1772 by Leopold Mozart, and the unfinished opera Zaide, K.344 (336b), which dates probably from 1779-1780). The most reliable indicator of the Kyrie's composition date is provided by the musical handwriting which, in the opinion of the late Wolfgang Plath, pointed to a genesis probably in the first half of 1772, in Salzburg, when the Mozart was just sixteen (the dating in the sixth and most recent edition of the Köchel catalogue - supposedly June 1773 - is incorrect).
The beautifully and fluently-written score is characteristic of those from this time, i.e. the period Mozart spent at Salzburg between the second and third Italian journeys. Typical are the small note-forms and a generally well-ordered appearance, in almost shocking contrast to the sometimes wildly exaggerated note-forms and typically unbalanced appearance of his scores prior to the end of 1771 (indeed, in view of this graphological volte-face, Plath speculated whether some psychological catastrophe might not have occurred). Of the non-autograph entries on the score, two merit particular mention. The first is the partially erased red-crayon Roman numeral 'VII' entered in the right-hand margin of fol.1r, this number corresponding to that assigned the fragment in the list of Mozart's vocal fragments prepared by the Abbé Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833), part of a comprehensive list of the fragments prepared by the Abbé, and which was used by Constanze Mozart in 1800 as a basis for negotiations with Breitkopf & Härtel concerning Mozart's estate. The second is the almost completely erased classification number entered by Constanze Mozart's second husband Georg Nikolaus von Nissen (1761-1826) at the head of the blank last page: this may possibly be 'I A a 1.' (if this is correct, the suggestion in NMA X/30/4 that this number, whose existence was predicted, might indicate an as yet undiscovered fragment should be discounted).
Also included with the manuscript: a paper strip containing Aloys Fuchs's elucidation of the non-autograph inscriptions on fol. 1r ("die Aufschriften auf der 1. Seite über der 1. Notenzeile sind von fremder Hand: nämlich die Buchstaben im linken Eck - ... M. f. d. G. Kirche sind von Nissens Hand ... die Worte: (Anfang eines Kyrie) sind von Abb[é] Stadlers Hand. die Bemerkungen rechts sind von Nissens Hand - welch' beide Männer den musikalischen Nachlaß Mozarts ordneten [the superscriptions on the first page above the first stave are made by other hands: namely, the letters in the left-hand corner - ... M. .f. .d. G. Kirche are in Nissen's hand ... the words: (Beginning of a Kyrie) are in Abbé Stadler's hand. the remarks on the right-hand side are in Nissen's hand - which two men set in order Mozart's musical estate].").
The manuscript was once enclosed in a wrapper with a manuscript label by the great nineteenth-century Viennese collector Aloys Fuchs (1799-1853). This label was dated 15 September 1852 and recorded Fuchs's gift of the manuscript to the Benedictine Abbey at Göttweig, in Lower Austria. In the 1930s, Göttweig sold a number of its music manuscripts, the most prominent of which was the complete "Mariazeller" Mass by Haydn, which was sold to the Berlin State Library in 1937. The present Mozart Kyrie was probably acquired by the Mozart collector Dr Max Zenger, around the same time. We understand that the manuscript was purchased from Zenger by Rudolf Götz, an orchestral musician working in Munich, and from whom it has passed to the current owners by direct descent. The Götz family was Jewish and had to flee Munich in 1938. Rudolf could not take hard currency or obvious valuables out of Germany, so he purchased this manuscript, divided the manuscript from the title-wrapper that once accompanied it, and travelled to South America. The title-wrapper was transported on a separate ship which was torpedoed and lost in 1939 (along with all the family's furniture), but happily Mozart's manuscript itself survived the war and its existence was made known to a few Mozart scholars during the 1980s. Monika Holl recorded its location ("Südamerikanischer Privatbesitz") in her 1990 edition of the Kyrie for the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, as did Alan Tyson in 1992. The chronology suggested in NMA X/30/4 (2002) - "1939 abhanden gekommen" - is incorrect.
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