There was something from that research long ago that I had long meant to write about here, but it always seemed too complicated to explain cogently. (My intention for this blog is basically non-technical writing about very technical stuff, and sometimes I live up to it.) It has preoccupied me so much in recent days, however, that I thought I might as well give it a try. So I pulled out the file and flipped through it until I found this photocopied page.
|SOURCE: scan of my photocopy of Book Conservation Report (dated July 1986) shelved with the autograph of K. 361|
|SOURCE: description of the structure of the autograph of K. 361 as presented in the critical report (ed. Dietrich Berke, 2002) of NMA VII/17/2 p. 35, available in full online here.|
The idea that the seven-movement work could have originally been shorter is nothing new: in fact, the first publication of K. 361 presented it as two shorter works, adapted for a more standard scoring of wind octet (pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons): one contained movements 1, 2 3, and 7; the other presented movements 5, 4, and 6 (in that order). This of course does not account for my suggestion, which groups movements 4–5–6–7 in some order. And it has been suggested that the work initially included four movements, based on the first unambiguous documented reference to this unique combination of instruments:
“I heard music for wind instruments to-day, too, by Herr Mozart, in four movements—glorious and sublime! It consisted of thirteen instruments, viz. four corni, two oboi, two fagotti, two clarinetti, two basset-corni, a contreviolon, and at each instrument sat a master—oh, what an effect it made--glorious and grand, excellent and sublime!”
[Johann Friedrich Schink, quoted in Deutsch (trans.), pp. 232f.]
Sitting through yet another Zoom presentation the other day, I tried to construct a different schematic representation of all of this information: the NMA collation of the manuscript structure; the portions of Spitzmueller’s “unused sewing holes” (bracketed in red); an indication of the two types of paper used in this manuscript (yellow shading indicates Tyson 57—unshaded portions are Tyson 56); along with labels for each movement, to show which pages they make up (along the bottom). The green markings I will explain below. (For a larger view of this densely-packed image, see this page.)
|SOURCE: my attempt to represent all the information cited above; this diagram should be read left-to-right, and as if looking at the manuscript right-side up (so that a Necker illusion would confuse things, as everything would then be turned inside out): the first page is facing away from you on the left extreme, while the blank final page is facing away from you on the right extreme. NOTE: There are seven blank (unnumbered) pages: one after p. 43 (end of Fascicle V); one after p. 68 (end of Fascicle X, between Vars. 2 and 3); four after p. 80 (end of Fascicle XII); and the final page of Fascicle XIII.|
|SOURCE: cropped page scan of Leeson, gran Partitta, p. 31.|
Leeson could find no meaning in the numbers. His speculations about their origins go so far as to suggests they (not in Mozart's hand) were on the pages even before any music was written on them:
“What these sequential numbers represent, No. 1 ... No. 5, in entirely unknown. They serve no enumerative purpose in describing anything in K. 361. That there is no other such superfluous information anywhere on the 34 surfaces of these five units of paper is a clear indication that they—and, perhaps, others not known to us—were prepared in this fashion before Mozart began composing K. 361.” [p. 30]He notes that the numbers start where the type of paper changes (although there is no “No. 6” for the last fascicle of Tyson 56). But I believe Leeson is wrong to say these “serve no enumerative purpose”: what they do is place these fascicles in the order they now appear—putting the Theme and Variations (which begins at “No. 3”) after the Romance (which comprises Nos. 1 and 2). What if at some earlier point the fascicles (and thus the movements) were in a different order? I communicated this idea to Leeson in the summer of 1998, we corresponded briefly about it. He pointed out that we know next to nothing about the way Mozart’s manuscripts were bound during his lifetime—if they were at all; and that to advance my hypothesis would require years of trying to sort out that issue for the whole corpus (much as Tyson did with watermarks). I had other things I wanted to work on, so I left it there.
I have speculated on this blog before (as with my hare-brained idea about the absence of small-note ornaments in Bach autograph scores, and their presence in autograph performing parts): indeed, it is one of the pleasures of writing a blog like this one. I am a scholar of neither Bach nor Mozart, but I have found it fun to poke my head in the door (so to speak), eavesdrop for a bit, and see what I can make of the textual issues. This is armchair musicology, admittedly, but I don’t think it is entirely irresponsible. My speculation (not wholly from the armchair) in this case: the autograph of K. 361 suggests that the work consisted at some point—maybe not originally, but possibly at the time of the documented 1784 performance—of movements 4–5–6–7 in a different order.
It would be extremely unlikely to begin with the present movement 4: I can think of no other multi-movement work (other than suites of dances) by Mozart—or anyone else, off the top of my head—to begin with a Menuet specified as such. (K. 188 is a possible exception. If there are others, I’m sure I will hear about it and will post them in an addendum below.) It would be impossible to begin with movement 5, as it is in a subordinate key (the Subdominant). Movement 7 is labelled—in Mozart’s hand—Finale (although I suppose it is impossible to be certain when he wrote that label). Thus movement 6 would be the first movement of the four-movement version I am positing. Beginning with a Theme and Variations? Unusual, perhaps, but he did it in the famous K. 331 (the A major piano sonata that concludes with the rondo alla Turca). More to the point, the wind divertimento K. 253 also begins with a theme and variations (and with a not-dissimilar theme), so this would not be unprecedented.
My putative sequence would either be
-  Theme and Variations
-  Menuet/Trio/Trio
-  Romance
-  Finale
-  Theme and Variations
-  Romance
-  Menuet/Trio/Trio
-  Finale
- The last variation of Movement 6 is too similar in style to the Menuet for them to be adjacent movements, and
- I think if the first order was correct then the fascicle for movement 4 would also have been included in the reordering enumeration. The present movement 4 may have been an afterthought, anyway, given the change in paper-types: thus Mozart would have composed 6, 5, and most of 7 on Tyson 56, then switched to Tyson 57 for the end of the finale, after which movement 4 (and subsequently the first three movements as we know them now) were added. But Tyson finds that Mozart was mainly using these paper types in 1781: the performance in 1784 is of “four movements” (if the account is to be trusted), and surely all seven movements were notated by then. (I allow that if one were going to choose four movements to perform from this marvelous work, I cannot imagine leaving out the sublime Adagio.) And why the four blank pages at the end of the Theme and Variations (the “No. 5” fascicle)? Like Leeson, I am left with mysteries I cannot resolve—but trying out playlists in these alternate sequences has at least enabled me to hear this very familiar piece with new ears.