(Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, composer [1756-1791], attributed). "Brief von Mozart an Baron E.". Handwritten copy of a letter.

No place, ca. 1815?

4to (ca. 165 x 215 mm). German cursive, ink on paper. 6½ pp. on 2 bifolia.

 2,500.00

Contemporary copy of the notoriously spurious but influential letter supposedly written by Mozart to "Baron ...", the authenticity of which Otto Jahn had refuted compellingly as early as 1858, based on its numerous stylistic and factual discrepancies. The letter was first published in 1815 by Friedrich Rochlitz in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (no. 34, 23 August, cols. 561-566) and was widely reprinted and discussed. Perhaps more than anything else, the writer's self-reflexive statements about his creative method captured the fancy of Mozart scholars: "[...] Wie nehmlich meine Art ist beym Schreiben und Ausarbeiten von großen und derben Sachen? - Nehmlich, ich kann darüber wahrlich nicht mehr sagen als das, und ich weiß selbst nichts mehr, und kann auf weiter nichts kommen. Wenn ich recht für mich binn, und guter Dinge, etwa auf Reisen im Wagen, oder nach guter Mahlzeit beym Spatzieren, und in der Nacht, wenn ich nicht schlafen kann, da kommen mir die Gedanken stromweis und am besten. Woher u. wie, das weiß ich nicht, kann auch nichts dazu. Die mir nun gefallen, die behalte ich im Kopf, u. summe sie wohl auch vor mich hin, wie mir andre wenigstens gesagt haben. Halt ich nun fest, so kömmt mir bald eins nach dem andern bey, wozu so ein Brocken zu brauchen wäre, um eine Pastete daraus zu machen, nach Contrapunct, nach Klang der verschiedenen Instrumente usw. Das erhitzt mir nun die Seele, wenn ich nehmlich nicht gestört werde; da wird es immer größer; und ich breite es immer breiter und heller aus, und das Ding wird im Kopf warlich fast fertig, wenn es auch lang ist, so daß ich's hernach mit einem Blick, gleichsam wie ein schönes Bild, oder einen hübschen Menschen, im Geiste übersehe, u. es auch gar nicht nach einander, wie es hernach kommen muß, in der Einbildung höre, sondern wie gleich alles zusammen. Das ist nun ein Schmaus! [...]".

Mozart's alleged reflections on his composing process were grist to the mill for the Romantic era's Cult of Genius: "Nothing less than calamitous [for the question of Mozart's creative method] was the dubious and in its published form unquestionably spurious 'letter by Mozart to Baron etc.', which seemed to establish once and for all that Mozart composed his works in his mind alone, without the use of any musical or writing instrument, that a perfect work thus took shape rapidly, in an almost vegetal process, within the composer's imagination and was then stored away in his memory forever, and that, finally, the writing of the music on staff paper constituted merely a mechanical act entirely divorced from external circumstances" (cf. Ulrich Konrad, in MGG). Jahn wrote, "I would not go so far as to assert that the letter is an outright forgery; it was probably based on a letter of Mozart's which was revised and to which were added certain characteristic traits which were deemed authentic, so as to create a more richly suggestive document. It will be impossible to tell with any degree of certainty that which is real and original from that which is altered and added; yet it is undeniable that the letter, as it stands, cannot have been written by Mozart" (cf. Jahn, p. 505).

Noticeably browned; light waterstains along the upper edge and gutter. While the letter appears to be copied from one of the several published sources of the early 19th century, the internal evidence of paper, ink and script would be entirely consistent with a date before the first publication in 1815, and it is tantalizing to speculate that Rochlitz based his transcription on this very specimen.

Mozart, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen, GA IV, pp. 527-531. Cf. O. Jahn, W. A. Mozart, vol. 3 (1858), pp. 496-505 (Beilage XXI). MGG² XII, 723. Wurzbach XIX, 248.

Stock Code: BN#49988 Tag: