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An unknown Mozart piece is heard for the first time: 94 Seconds of New Mozart – The Allegro in D major for Piano, K. 626b/16
Despite the large number of compositions that Wolfgang Amadé Mozart wrote during his short lifetime, new discoveries are extremely rare. During the last decades, a few hitherto unknown original manuscripts by Mozart have come to light; these were, however, always incomplete pieces: sketches or drafts. It is more than 80 years ago that the re-discovery of an unknown complete composition in Mozart’s own handwriting was announced. The Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation had acquired an Allegro in D major for piano by the 17-year-old Mozart and has presented it to the public at the occasion of the composer’s 265th anniversary on January 27, 2021. The autograph manuscript had been in private possession since the late 1920s. After scrupulous internal examination by research fellows of the Mozarteum Foundation, four internationally renowned Mozart experts from the US and Germany were consulted, who likewise confirmed the authenticity of the sheet of music.
The Allegro in D major, K. 626b/16 fills the front and back of a single sheet of music paper in oblong format. The handwriting is hasty, but error-free. The undated composition stems in all likelihood from the first months 1773, according to the Mozarteum Foundation; it thus originated either during Mozart’s third journey to Italy or immediately after his return to Salzburg. A trustworthy annotation of 1844 led to assume that the manuscript was once part of the estate of Mozart’s son, Franz Xaver Wolfgang. Franz Xaver, however, did not inherit it from his father, but rather from his aunt Maria Anna, Mozart’s sister, who apparently kept it as a memento. Peculiarities of style suggest that this three-part dance movement is not an original piano piece, but a keyboard arrangement in Mozart’s own hand of an unknown orchestral work.
Although the composition was hitherto unpublished, it has been listed in the Köchel catalogue of Mozart’s works, since the third edition of 1937, as K. 626b/16. (K. 626b is a collective entry for compositions about which nothing is known except an entry in an auction or sales catalogue.) Between 1900 and 1928 the manuscript was offered at auction several times, but the music could never be studied by scholars, and therefore, it has remained unknown. The original manuscript was acquired by a music-loving engineer in the late 1920s and remained for almost 90 years in this family’s possession until it reached the Mozarteum Foundation by mediation of the London-based specialist for autograph music Dr. Stephen Roe.
Images of the original manuscript can be accessed via the digital Bibliotheca Mozartiana of the Mozarteum Foundation, and the Digital Interactive Mozart-Edition (DIME) will provide an edition of the work. Both online offerings are free of charge for personal study, research purposes, and educational use. In addition, the Mozarteum Foundation is publishing a facsimile edition of the new piece on Mozart’s birthday, which can be obtained from the museum stores or from book and music traders. The original manuscript of the Allegro in D KV 626b/16 is expected to be on display in the Mozart Residence from Easter.