Mozart – Like We Have Never Heard It Before

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Presentation of an unknown Mozart autograph at the ‘Night of Researchers’ in the National Széchényi Library, Budapest
26 September 2014

A discovery of international significance has been made in the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. An autograph fragment of one of Mozart’s most popular keyboard works – the Sonata in A major, K. 331, best known for its ‘alla turca’ finale – has been identified by Balázs Mikusi, Head of the Music Collection.

The sensational finding will be presented to the public on 26 September 2014, as part of the ‘Night of Researchers’ programme series. The presentation will be held by Balázs Mikusi (National Széchényi Library), Ulrich Leisinger (Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg) and pianist-cum-conductor Zoltán Kocsis, who will also perform the entire sonata on a modern copy of a fortepiano from Mozart’s time.

During the event the original manuscript will be on display.

The Sonata in A major, K. 331, belongs among Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s best-known compositions: the concluding ‘alla turca’ is familiar even to those having little interest in classical music. However, the performance of the work poses numerous problems, since – until now – only the last page of Mozart’s autograph has been available to scholars and performers, while the printed editions seem imprecise in several respects.

At the public presentation in the Ceremonial Hall of the National Széchényi Library, many vexing questions will be answered on the basis of the four-page manuscript that has recently been discovered among the unidentified fragments of the Music Collection. The new source provides the opportunity to revise all existing editions of Mozart’s sonata with respect to performance markings, a few rhythmic patterns and even certain notes.

On 26 September 2014, the music-loving public will hear more details about the discovery from the most competent (Hungarian and foreign) experts: Balázs Mikusi, the discoverer of the manuscript; Ulrich Leisinger, Director of Research of the Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg; as well as pianist Zoltán Kocsis, who will also perform the entire sonata on a modern copy of a Walter fortepiano. Thus, we are about to witness a ‘repeated first performance’ of this popular Mozart work, in the course of which we seek to eliminate the textual corruption of two centuries and perform the sonata as Mozart himself notated it.

Preliminary programme:

6.00 p.m.    Welcome by László Tüske, General Director of NSL

6:10 p.m.    Introduction: Mozart and Hungary
by Balázs Mikusi, Head of the Music Collection of NSL

6:20 p.m.    The Salzburg manuscript fragment of the Sonata in A major, K. 331
by Ulrich Leisinger, Director of Research, Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg

6:45 p.m.    Presentation of the newly discovered folios of Mozart’s autograph
by Balázs Mikusi, Head of the Music Collection of NSL

7:05 p.m.    Exploration of the musical significance of the manuscript
by Zoltán Kocsis, General Music Director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic 

7:25 p.m.    Mozart: Sonata in A major, K. 331, performed by Zoltán Kocsis on a copy of a Walter fortepiano

Programme venue: National Széchényi Library, Ceremonial Hall (Level 6)
The event is free and open to the public.

The ‘Night of Researchers’ is Hungary’s most popular scientific and educational programme series. It was founded in 2006 and, throughout its nine-year history, its popularity has been growing as regards the number of visitors and participating institutions. This year the National Széchényi Library will open its gates for this special night for the second time.