The results and implications of Alan Tyson’s work on Mozart have had a profound impact on virtually every aspect of research on this composer: biography, chronology of compositions, working methods, stylistic analysis. Central, perhaps, are Tyson’s discoveries on chronology: time and again he has proved that datings, often of large, well-known works, that have been accepted for generations are not only erroneous but based on little more than speculation. This book assembles his major articles, previously scattered through magazines, journals, and festschrifts, plus two unpublished pieces, into a treasure trove for musicologists and music lovers.
Tyson’s investigations, using primarily paper analysis, span Mozart’s entire career and the full range of genres—string quartets, operas, choral music, keyboard music, concertos, and symphonies. He goes into the genesis of major works such as Cosi fan tutte, the “Prague” Symphony, the Piano Sonata K.333, the “Haydn” quartets, and La clemenza di Tito. His conclusions about chronology bear directly on biographical questions and current accounts of Mozart’s stylistic development as well as his compositional methods. We learn here, for example, that the “first” horn concerto was in fact Mozart’s last, and that he did not even complete the second movement, which was finished after his death by his pupil Süssmayr. The writing (and, in some cases, rewriting) of his later operas such as Figaro and Cosi fan tutte also lends itself to investigation by the same techniques; this is resulting in the rediscovery of some lost measures and little-known variant versions of arias.
Tyson’s style is clear and elegant, and the originality of his work and the soundness of his inferences make this book a pleasure.
This elegantly written and beautifully presented book is, in sum, the most important contribution to Mozart scholarship for many years and must set us thinking afresh about the man and the music.
[These] meticulous studies of the surviving material have revolutionized several aspects of our understanding of Mozart’s working methods. Tyson’s Mozart is thrilling as a collection of primary research which hints at a new picture of how Mozart composed… He has brilliantly solved the long-standing puzzle of Mozart’s ‘first’ horn concerto, showing that it was completed by Süssmayr after the composer’s death using a plainsong theme of lamentation… On such painstaking work is advancing scholarship based.
Alan Tyson is quite simply the calm, supremely competent expert. His treatise, which explicates how to read Mozart’s manuscripts by mastering such tricky matters as watermarks, paper quality and handwriting, is…a model of lucidity, and indeed fascination… No doubt we are…closing in on the real Mozart.
Some of the most striking material…shows not only that Mozart did far more sketching than mythology has suggested, but that it was normal for him to stop composition in the middle of a piece, only to pick it up months, or even years, later… The picture that emerges [is] of Mozart at work on a number of unfinished ‘canvases,’ with earlier, uncompleted fragments as possible resources for new ones… This attractively written book contains references to over 400 Mozart compositions and is an important contribution to musical scholarship.
- 391 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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