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Subject: a new Mozart opera? (LONG)
From: Stephen Landesman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Landesman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 23 Oct 1998 00:49:02 -0400

text/plain (132 lines)


        For what it's worth, the following moved across the AP
        wire a short time ago:


        Associated Press Writer
        BOSTON (AP) -- Two hundred years after his death, an opera
        that some believe was partly Mozart's is having its premiere
        Musicologist David Buch says he is certain that three segments
        of an obscure Viennese opera were indeed written by the
        leading composer of the classical period.
        In all, 20 minutes -- nearly one-quarter of the late 18th
        century work -- have been newly attributed to Mozart.

        Buch has his doubters in the musical academy. But the professor
        also has many music scholars and lovers on his side, including
        the Boston Baroque Orchestra, which is debuting "The Philosopher's
        Stone" Oct. 30. The performance is being billed as the "modern-day
        world premiere" of a work by "Mozart and company."

        Scholars believe the work hasn't been played since about
        two decades after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's death in 1791
         The piece, written in archaic German, will be recorded
        for the Telarc label next month.While other Mozart compositions
        have been discovered over the last two centuries, this
        would be the first find from the height of his career,
        Buch and his supporters said.

        "It's really astonishing to find there may be something
        we don't know from right at the end of his life," said Martin
        Pearlman, Boston Baroque's conductor and founder.
        Although a Mozart connection to the 1790 "Philosopher's
        Stone" has been suggested before, there was never much proof.

        The opera was attributed to four other composers and never
        made it into the canon of more popular works of the day
         such as "The Magic Flute," which Mozart wrote about a year
        later. "The Philosopher's Stone" was thought to have survived
        in only two copies, neither of which resolved the Mozart question.

        Buch, who teaches music at the University of Northern Iowa
        was researching supernatural operas of the 18th century
        when he stumbled upon a cache of music that the Soviets
        had taken out of Germany at the end of World War II.
        In the early 1990s, the Russians returned thousands of
        pages of original manuscripts to the archives of the City
        and University Library in Hamburg, Germany. Among them:
        "The Philosopher's Stone," or "Der Stein der Weisen."
        Although some scholars had speculated that Mozart composed
        a comic duet for the opera, none had determined that he
        played a larger role, Buch said.
        In 1996, Buch examined the Hamburg copy, one of three now
        believed to still exist, and was stunned to find Mozart's
        name on the list of composers.

        Buch had expected to find Mozart's name alongside the duet
        that had been tentatively linked to the great master. He
        had not anticipated finding Mozart's name attached to two
        substantial sections of the second-act finale.
        Buch admits it is possible that someone wrote Mozart's name
        on the manuscript to impress music-lovers of the time. After
        all, Mozart was enormously popular in his own day. But why
        would someone attribute only three small sections to him
        and not the entire work?

        Moreover, Buch said, the Hamburg copy with Mozart's name
        matched an identical version that had been housed in Berlin
        And Mozart's widow had referred on three separate occasions
        to a work her husband had helped compose.

        Buch's find -- provided it is accepted by the academy into
        Mozart's canon -- won't do much to alter music historians
         thinking about Mozart. But it could provide insight into
        how the man worked as a collaborator in what one musicologist
        described as a "Broadway musical" style of composing, and
        not just as an isolated genius.

        But whether this is truly a work by Mozart remains in dispute
        Buch's attribution will be a topic of conversation at a
        meeting of the American Musicological Society, which is
        gathering in Boston next week to coincide with the opera
        premiere. Christoph Wolff, a professor of the history of
        music at Harvard University who will moderate a panel on
        Buch's discovery, has his doubts.

        Mozart kept a meticulous journal of all his pieces -- even
        the smallest works composed for others -- and is unlikely
        to have left out sections of an opera, Wolff said.

        "I'm extremely skeptical about Mozart's involvement," said
        Wolff, who authenticated several chorale preludes by J.S. Bach in 1984.

        Neal Zaslaw, a music professor at Cornell University and
        a top Mozart expert, believes Buch is on to something. "My
        judgment is that it's extremely likely that Mozart had something
        to do with this operetta," he said.

        Either way, the revival of the opera is a boon for music
        lovers who rarely get to hear other works of the day, Wolff
        said, and skeptics as well as believers are looking forward
        to its premiere.

        The other composers to whom the opera is attributed are
        Emanuel Schikaneder, who also wrote the libretto, Benedikt
        Schack, Franz Xaver Gerl and Johann Baptiste Henneberg,
        who conducted the opera's premiere. "The Philosopher's Stone
        " it turns out, is remarkably similar to "The Magic Flute
        " one of Mozart's best-known pieces, written not long before
        his death at age 35. Both operas were written in a two-act
        structure and were based on the same fairy tale collection
         Both were performed within a year of each other in the
        same theater, by the same actors and singers, Pearlman said

        "I think any time there's a discovery of music by Mozart
         that's a surprising thing," Pearlman said. "And it's a gift."

        End Adv for Weekend Editions, Oct 23-25 and Thereafter
        AP-ES-10-21-98 1734EDT



Stephen G. Landesman
[log in to unmask]
Ithaca, NY

"Wann geht der naechste Schwan?"

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