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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000527.txt from 2004/08

From: "dnleeson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] The making of K. 581
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 10:43:13 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: Thiel, Mark []
Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 6:58 AM
Subject: [kl] The making of K. 581

OK, here's a bit of idle conjecture to add to our other
based on little or no evidence.

Dan Leeson wrote:
> If it was not modified, who would buy the work? Who could play
> work?
> What is the market estimate for a composition that cannot be
played by
> clarinetist other than Stadler, because it required a special
> So the clarinet part, at least, was modified to an unknown
degree, and
> was probably done in the creation of a score (made from the
> parts) which was input to the engraving process.

Now Mozart was no dummy. He knew that both the concerto and the
were pretty good stuff (even for Mozart) and it would be nice to
them. He also knew that his buddy Stadler had the only clarinet
to low
C around. What are the chances that he wrote for BOTH normal and
clarinets -- that is, the original manuscripts are/were riddled
alternate notes or carefully bracketed "ossia 8va" or the like?

Then when the first edition came out or at some step along the
way, the
copyist or engraver looks at the alternate lines and thinks:
clarinet to low C; Stadler had the only one and we'll never see
of THOSE again. I'll be damned if I draw all the ledger lines
for those
low notes." And thus the version for basset clarinet is lost.

By the way, though I realize the improbability of this
hypothesis, I
will not accept Mozart's never doing anything like this in
anything else
he wrote (if this is indeed the case) as a counterargument. After
clarinets are special.

Mark Thiel

Mark, this scenario is improbable for several reasons.

Works supplied on commission belonged to the commissioning party.
581 and 622 were owned by Stadler (even though he probably never
paid for them). Thus, from Mozart's point of view, there was no
long term value in the composition. He wrote it. Stadler would
play it a number of times and no one even thought about what
would happen to the piece after that.

Second, in general, compositions did not have (or were not
perceived as having) any long term life. That is why he wrote so
many piano concerti. The sequence was: write it, play it, forget
about it. Who would play it? Certainly not the average music
lover. You needed an orchestra of players. Bottom line: large
scale compositions (concerti, operas, orchestral works) were
generally not reinvoked at a later time, though for unusual works
there were exceptions. The bulk of operas written in the 18th
century were never given a second mounting.

Third, whatever market existed for Hausmusik, was for chamber
groups; i.e., trios, quartets, etc. While 581 fell into that
category, rule one applies. It was Stadler's property and not
available for use by anyone other than him (unless someone stole
it and published it -- there were no rules covering that).

Insofar as Mozart writing an ossia part (alternatives to whatever
low notes were used but not possessed by other players), there is
no reason that he would have done that. The work was for Stadler.
Stadler had the low notes. Why one earth write an alternative
part? It made no sense to do so.

Bottom line is that you may not have a full understanding of the
dynamics of the music world of the 18th century. Instead you are
superimposing your knowledge of today's music world on a
completely different environment that existed more than two
centuries ago. Even something as simple as buying lined music
paper was a major and significant effort that was hideously
expensive. And there were not any local conservatories, or tons
of clarinet players drooling to get into the local orchestras.
There were not even many clarinets. You wanted one, you went to
an instrument maker and he built one for you. I think one of
them was named "COSTCO AUSTRIA."

Dan Leeson

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