2 pages, oblong 4to (c.21.5 x 31.5cm), Vienna, 19 October 1782, excision to outer margin (c.14.4 x 3.5cm), lower edge and remainder of outer edge trimmed, original diagonal crease (as manufactured) to lower outer part of leaf, traces of mount to inner edge of verso, light spotting; together with a note by the composer William Sterndale Bennett, a former owner of the autograph: "The first page of a Rondeau (in Score) in Mozarts [sic] own handwriting, recently published by Hollier and purchased of André in Offenbach, near Frankfurt who possesses the greater part of Mozarts [sic] M.S.S. including Don Juan, Zauberflöte &c - The Title as written by the author above is as follows - "Rondeaux" di Wolfgango Amadeo Mozart - Vienna October 19.th 1782."
BEARING A RARE AND SUPERB AUTOGRAPH SIGNATURE AND DATE, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL THE CURRENTLY KNOWN LEAVES OF THE DISRUPTED AND FRAGMENTARILY SURVIVING AUTOGRAPH SCORE OF K. 386.
The Rondo in A for Piano and Orchestra, K. 386, is one of Mozart's most attractive and well-loved works. The circumstances of this probably independent piece - no doubt not, as once thought, either the original finale for the A-major piano concerto K. 414, or a replacement for the Allegretto movement found in the concerto's autograph score - are unknown, although, to judge from some later correspondence of Constanze Mozart, a connection of some kind is likely with Mozart's star pupil Barbara Ployer (1765-before 1811), for whom the composer also wrote two of his finest piano concertos, K. 449, in E flat, and K. 453, in G. An unusual feature of the score, which helps create the work's especially warm sonority, is the highly independent violoncello part, which may have been intended for the musician for whom Mozart began writing around the same time a little-known Andantino in B flat, with piano accompaniment, K. Anh. 46 (374g).
The history of the survival of the work's autograph can fairly be described as unfortunate. Already at the time of Johann Anton André's acquisition of Mozart's musical estate (1799-1800) the score was lacking its ending - hence the inscription "zu ergänzen [to complete]" on the present leaf by Constanze Mozart's second husband Georg Nikolaus von Nissen. A later owner of the truncated score, the composer William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875), proceeded to break it up, giving away most of the leaves, and in some cases parts of leaves, to his friends. Today, of the once sixteen-leaf-strong manuscript there are currently still four whole leaves missing as well as four fragments of two further leaves. Fortunately for the textual history of the work, a reduction of the rondo for piano solo was published by Cipriani Potter, Bennett's old teacher, in 1838, although he had to invent a new ending, as the concluding four leaves, with bb. 225-269, were then still missing (they were in fact only finally discovered by Alan Tyson in the British Library in March 1980).
The currently-known whole leaves, excluding the present leaf, are located as follows: fols. 2-3 (bb. 23-62): Germany, private collection; fol. 4 (bb. 63-78): Royal College of Surgeons of England, London; fol. 8 (bb. 136-154): Sibley Library, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, U.S.A.; fol. 9 (bb. 155-171): Private collection, Tokyo; fols. 13-16 [fol. 16 is blank] (bb. 225-269): British Library, London. In addition to these leaves two quarter-leaves of fol. 6 also survive - in the Music Library of The University of Western Ontario, London (Canada) and in The Juilliard School, New York, as well as two quarter-leaves of fol. 7 - one of which is also preserved in The Juilliard School, New York.
In addition to the present leaf (Sotheby's sale of 21 May 1998, lot 283), the following fragments of the score have also been sold in these rooms: fols. 2-3 (14 June 1976, lot 142); fol. 6, two quarter-leaves (17 November 1983, lot 142, and 20 May 2005, lot 113); fol. 7, one quarter-leaf (20 May 2005, lot 112); and fol. 9 (27 February 1973, lot 362).
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