Newly Discovered Mozart Piece Gets World Premiere


Deutsche Grammophon, “World Premiere –– Seong-Jin Cho: The Unknown Mozart,” screenshot at 3:27

At only 26 years old, performer Seong-Jin Cho has already won numerous awards for his piano-playing. Here seen playing Mozart’s “Allegro in D Major,” he lends beautiful expression to the newly-released piece.

Emma Peterson, Contributing Writer

It’s 2021, and of all the artists we’re waiting on to release new music, Mozart has pulled through. Yes, Mozart. 

The 94-second piece, titled “Allegro in D Major,” was first seen by professional eyes in 2018: extremely recently, relative to how long the piece has been lost for. It likely dates from early 1773, completed near the end of Mozart’s third tour of Italy or after his return home to Salzburg, Austria. He would have been only 17 years old at the time.

Junior Emily Conroy thinks that this is “an amazing discovery, especially since Mozart was one of the most talented musicians of all time.”

According to the director of research at the Mozarteum Foundation, Ulrich Leisinger, “the handwriting looks quite unusual for Mozart,” but “has his characteristics” and was “obviously written quite quickly.” Taking up both sides of a single manuscript sheet, Mozart used normal sheet paper, not music paper, and drew in the lines of the staves himself.  

“It’s not a fragment, it’s not a sketch, it’s a completely new work for piano,” says an unnamed expert in this official video put forth by Deutsche Grammophon. 

After Mozart’s death, the score was handed down to the composer’s youngest son, then found its way into the collection of an amateur musician Aloys Fuchs. After this, the score was lost: probably given away by mistake. In the late 1800s, an antique dealer in Vienna owned it, then it was auctioned off in 1899. The Köchel catalog, a list of Mozart’s compositions, noted “Allegro in D Major” as part of the deceased composer’s repertoire, but for reasons unknown, this piece continued to evade recognition and slipped from the public eye once again. 

The last known private owner of the allegro was a French-Dutch engineer, who bought it in the 1920s from a dealer in Paris. His family sold “Allegro in D Major” to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation in 2018. 

A few weeks ago, on January 27th, the official world premiere of this piece captured worldwide attention as it live-streamed from Salzburg, Austria. It was a part of the opening of the annual Mozartwoche Festival and was performed by the accomplished South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho. “It is a great honor,” said Cho. “I’m delighted that, thanks to DG Stage among others, many people from around the world will be able to hear this wonderful piece for the first time during my Mozartwoche recital.”

Director of the Mozartwoche, Rolando Villazón, adds, “Mozart’s music brings us solace in difficult times… We have the chance to… witness a special moment in music history with this world premiere.”

After all, it’s not every day that classical-music lovers around the world get to witness the first performance of a never-before-heard score. The president of Deutsche Grammophon, Dr. Clemens Trautmann, called it a “genuinely historical moment,” and “a once in a lifetime” event. In case you missed the Deutsche Grammophon’s DG stage live stream, watch Seong-Jin Cho’s incredible performance here. After watching, Mimi Jiang-Yu, Hingham’s junior and a skilled piano player called his performance “so beautiful.” She said, “Mozart is my favorite composer to play on the piano… he has such a distinct sound. I am so glad they found another piece by him, and I hope I can play it myself in the future!”

The score includes lovely contrast between an upbeat, staccato melody and a softer, more gentle interlude, which junior Catelyn Arnold called her “favorite part,” saying that the slow and emotional music made her “remember how much [she] love[s] piano.” 

Cho’s single recording of Mozart’s “Allegro in D Major, K. 626b/16” was released on January 29, 2021. Listen to it on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your music!