Four precious pages of one of Mozart’s most beloved compositions is found in Budapest.
Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Major, No. 11 K331 is one of the great musical genius’s most recognisable pieces. Composed in 1783, the score of this iconic keyboard masterwork has been reproduced millions of times in the ensuing 230 years. However aside from a single page, which is preserved in a Salzburg museum in Austria, the composer’s birth place, the original manuscript penned by Mozart was thought lost, until now.
After five years of tirelessly cataloguing previously unidentified historical documents in the Szechenyi Library in Budapest, the institution’s Head of Music, Basazs Mikusi has claimed to have stumbled upon four yellowing pages written in Mozart’s hand.
Basazs Mikusi with the newly discovered manuscript.
Although the purely serendipitous discovery is yet to be corroborated, Mikusi, who is a Mozart scholar, is in no doubt as to the authenticity of the documents. “When I found the manuscript the handwriting was immediately recognisable as Mozart’s” Mikusi said. “My heart started racing when I realised that it was indeed the Sonata in A Major.”
Occasionally letters, small fragments of scores, or lesser known pieces by historically significant composers resurface after years gathering dust in some obscure archive, but a find of this significance – a substantial chunk of such a well loved and thoroughly studied composition – is exceptionally rare, and has generated huge excitment from music academics and Mozart-philes all over the world. Although it remains unclear how the score came to find its way to Hungary, early examination of the newly discovered score have already revealed surprising differences from the currently published edition, from subtle changes of phrasing and dynamics, to differing notes.
Frustratingly, aside from a performance of the discovered pages given by Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltán Kocsis at the Szechenyi Library last week, only small glimpses of the score have been revealed to the public at large. Pianists and Mozart fans around the world will be waiting with bated breath for the facsimile reproduction of this invaluable historical artifact to be formally published, although there is currently no date for this confirmed.
Until a definitive recording of the A Major Sonata, incorporating the newly discovered amendments to the existing edition is produced, we offer this beautiful recording by Daniel Barenboim for your listening pleasure.