Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mozart Cello Concerto

EXCLUSIVE: Discovery of Mozart’s Cello Concerto

It is an exciting discovery that was made a few months ago in Ravensburg, Germany. A local resident, Otto Julius Maier, discovered what looks now like a lost concerto for cello and orchestra written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The piece of music was quickly nicknamed “The Puzzle” (in G Major).

Otto Julius Maier tells us: “We just sold our family home and I was simply cleaning up the attic, when I came across an old suitcase that I had not noticed before. When I opened it, I found thousands of jigsaw puzzle pieces and an old picture dating from September 17th, 1926. I could see the pieces looked like music notes but I am no expert in that domain, although I have always been into puzzles.” The picture bears the name of Karl Maier, his great-granduncle, and it simply shows his hand working on one part of a gigantic puzzle, apparently representing a musical score.

Photo of Karl Maier, September 17th, 1926 (courtesy of the Maier Family)

O.J. Maier brought the suitcase and its contents down to the local music shop MusikHaus-Lange. Everyone in the shop, from owners to employees, spent the rest of the day trying to put some pieces of this mysterious musical puzzle together. Shortly before midnight, Erich Lange couldn’t believe his own eyes: he had just assembled 4 pieces of the puzzle forming the iconic autograph of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Aware that this could be one of the most important musical discoveries of the 21st Century, Mr. Lange drove up to Salzburg, Austria the following morning. There he met with Dr. Ulrich Leisinger at the Mozarteum, the upmost authority on Mozart’s works. The Mozart expert confirmed the authenticity of the autograph, and the hard work of completing the full puzzle begun.

The pink lights were turned on outside the Mozarteum’s building yesterday night, to signify the completion of the puzzle. (Photo ©Mozarteum)

A Mozartian puzzle

Dr. Leisinger gathered his team of experts and they spent the following months trying to put all the pieces together. He tells us about the complicated process: “It was hard because there were so many pieces. How do we know for sure that we are not putting notes meant for a violin in the French horn part? We hit a wall at some point when one of the blocks of pieces we put together sounded like Karlheinz Stockhausen’s piece “Vier Sterne”. It took us a full month to finally find the combination that sounded like Mozart”.
Sadly, some of the notes are still missing, not because of a lack of puzzle-solving skills by the Mozarteum staff, but simply because time eroded some of the printed pieces. The Mozarteum contacted the most eminent Mozart specialists in the world to attempt filling out those few missing notes (pianists Daniel Barenboim and Uri Caine have been mentioned as possible consultants). The Mozarteum kept the project secret for the past few months so they could complete their work free of outside pressure. “An institution like the Mozarteum cannot afford to reveal to the world a new piece of music unless it is complete and believed to be 100% by Mozart”, said Dr.Leisinger.

Mozart’s journey

Now, the question remains of how this piece of music could have ended up in Ravensburg, Germany. The historians believe that the newlywed Mozart would have made a late honeymoon trip to Lake Constance in 1783, in honor of his wife, Constanze Weber. They likely made a stop in Ravensburg after visiting Mozart’s Family in Salzburg, and on their way to Zell im Wiesenthal, the birthplace of Constanze.

Itinerary of Mozart’s puzzling journey in 1783
From A (Vienna) to B (Salzburg), C (Ravensburg) and D (Zell im Wiesenthal)

That Mozart would leave one of his masterpieces as a jigsaw puzzle is one more testament to his playfulness and sense of humor. But the Ravensburg historians believe a wealthy local bookshop owner of the time, Ludwig Maier, could have had a hand in this intriguing story. His involvement would explain why the puzzle was discovered in O.J. Maier’s family home. Ludwig Maier is the great-grandfather of Otto Maier, the founder of the Ravensburger Puzzle Company, which published its first puzzle in 1884. He is also a direct ancestor of Otto Julius Maier, who discovered the puzzle, and of Karl Maier, pictured in the photography from 1926. Ludwig Maier being an amateur cellist, it is possible that he commissioned Mozart for what is his only known cello concerto. The commission would have covered Mozart’s honeymoon expenses. Ludwig Maier, having a passion for jigsaw puzzles, probably came up with the crazy idea of printing a puzzle of the cello concerto, leaving a most exciting challenge to the generations of cellists to come, as no paper manuscript was found. Little did he know that exactly a century later, his heirs would make a real business out of his passion for puzzles. Nor could he have imagined that the puzzle would be finally solved more than two centuries later, in the year 2013.

First performance

The Premiere of the cello concerto “The Puzzle” in G Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is scheduled to take place in the summer of 2013. The soloist will be German cellist Julian Steckel, accompanied by the Euroclassic Festival Orchestra under the direction of Simon Gaudenz. We can safely assume that many cellists and music lovers will look forward to the first performance of this long-lost masterpiece.

Exclusive Story on April 1st, 2013 for