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Mozart-Jahrbuch 2011 ed. by Ulrich Leisinger and Johanna Senigl (review)

From: Notes
Volume 70, Number 3, March 2014
pp. 462-465 | 10.1353/not.2014.0023

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

As the editors explain in their preface, many of the sixteen contributions to the Mozart-Jahrbuch for 2011 treat Mozart’s secular vocal music or the subject of Mozart and romanticism. Other essays present new discoveries, musical or otherwise, and reinterpret biographical information about important people in Mozart’s life. An interesting aggregate of the types of research being conducted mainly in Europe and largely in German—only two contributions are in English—the volume is a useful way for English-speaking scholars to keep abreast of the new developments in continental research, which seem to be moving in more new directions than in previous years. Since it is impossible here to do justice to all of the authors’ essays, each of which is interesting in its own right, I will simply point out what, to me, were notable aspects of some of them.

In his “ ‘Meisterwerke ohne Hintergrund? Überlegungen zur historischen Kontextualisierung von Mozarts Wiener Opere buffe,” Michele Calella critiques the tendency of German-speaking Mozart scholars to see Mozart’s oeuvre as consisting of masterworks that are divorced from their cultural context and produced by a “German” genius who was uninfluenced by Italian and French musical and theatrical practices. This nineteenth-century habit persists today, as does the practice of continually referring to scholarship of that time in favor of revisiting primary source material. The language gap is a further problem: Callela discusses, for example, how Mary Hunter’s important monograph on opera buffa, standard reading on the subject in English-language scholarship, is rarely mentioned in recent German scholarship.

Fortunately, Calella’s criticism does not necessarily apply to the volume at hand. Josef-Horst Lederer’s “Zur musikalischen Überlieferung der ersten Auftrittsszene des Bassa Selim in Mozarts Die Entführung aus dem Serail,” for example, refers to scholarship written in several languages and takes both primary sources and contemporary Turkish-themed operas into account. Lederer explains that musicians who were to play the Turkish march, which is missing from the score, were listed on the payroll but never took part in a performance. His theory is that they may have fallen victim to the flu epidemic that reached its high point around the premiere of the opera. Perhaps less trustworthy is the account he gives by a doctor, writing in 1782, which claims that the epidemic killed almost two-thirds of Vienna’s residents.

In his essay “Mozart’s Requiem and Nineteenth-Century Fiction,” Simon Keefe examines reception history particularly through non-musical publications and addresses the romantic veneer that accompanies the Requiem to this day. A fascination with the macabre and the placement of stories about the Requiem in collections of ghost stories intensified the greatly exaggerated connection between the piece and the composer’s own death. But Keefe shows that these are part of a nineteenth-century legacy that, much like Süssmayr’s completion of the piece, does Mozart a service by popularizing his music. Paulino Capdepón also deals with reception history in his “Manuel García und die Rezeption der Opern Mozarts,” and shows how influential the Spanish tenor was in bringing Mozart’s operas to audiences especially in Madrid, in London, and in Paris.

As part of her larger project on Mozart’s Czech copyists, Milada Jonášová continues her impressive work with primary sources in her “Prager Abschriften von Mozart’s Kompositionen als Druck vorlagen,” by discussing the correspondence between members of important publishing houses in Leipzig and various musicians and music lovers. Among other discoveries, she sheds light on the relationship between Mozart’s first biographer, Franz Xaver Niemetschek, and Constanze Mozart. Contradicting the accumulated impressions and descriptions of Constanze Mozart’s second husband, Georg Nicolaus von Nissen, as honorable but pedantic, Viveca Servatius presents a new picture of the man in her fascinating and well-written account of his life entitled “Neue Erkentnisse zu Georg Nicolaus Nissen.” The essay ties established work on Nissen together with new information that comes from a collection of his letters that are currently housed in the National Archives of Sweden in Stockholm. A careful study of the features and provenance of the autograph of Mozart’s Solfeggio K. 385b/1, which is...



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