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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000096.txt from 2005/04

From: "dnleeson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Gran "Partitta" Spelling
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 17:15:43 -0400

It's a long story.

The first time that the term "Gran Partita" was ever used to
describe K. 361 was around 1912. In fact, the existence of the
term was not known and is nowhere specified in the literature for
the composition prior to that date. It was always referred to
either with its Koechel listing or the more cumberson "Serenade
for Wind Instruments" which is what Jahn called in 1862.
Somewhere after that it began to be called the "Serenade for
Thireen Wind Instruments." Yuck! There is a string bass in the

The reason why no one was aware of the term is because it appears
on the manuscript which had been in private hands from 1803 and
was still in private hands in 1911. No scholar had ever seen it
to state what was written on the front page. The owner in 1911
was the German, Marie von Ehrbach-Schoenberg, Princess of
Battemburg (and not terribly important, but related to the
husband of the current queen of England).

It was in 1911 that Erbach-Schoenberg permittted musicologist and
composer, Frtiz Volbach to examine the manuscript. It was the
first technical examination ever done of the autograph, and he
was the first scholar ever to have seen the manuscript up to that
time. In 1912 he published a paper about the manuscript and had
the first page photographed for the article.

What it actually says on the manuscript is "Gran Partitta." But
it says it in red crayon. So when the first page was
photographed for Neue Musikzeitung (scheduled for publication in
1912), the red crayon did not reproduce. So Volbach, or more
likely someone in the printing process, retouched the photograph,
and in doing so he respelled it from its original "Gran Partitta"
to the commonly heard "Gran Partita." (The Library of Congress
released a facsimile of the work in the 1960s and one can see the
"Gran Partitta" title as plain as day.)

Now there is no doubt that from a spelling point of view, "Gran
Partita" is correct, and "Gran Partitta" is a misspelling. That
is not the issue. Besides, orthogrophy is a relativy modern
invention. In the late 1700s, "Partitta" would have been just as
valid as "Partita."

The entire conceipt for using this term since 1912 has been based
on the fact that it appears on the first page of manuscript,
though no one suggested that the handwriting was Mozart's. That
was never considered. It was there, and that was enough for the
subtitle to take hold and fly.

When Zaslaw and I completed the edition of 361 for the NMA in the
mid 1970s, we discussed this matter with the chief editors. I
maintained that the term should not be used at all. It has
nothing to do with Mozart, it's not in his hand, and the work is
not a Partita in any case. However, if the chief editors
insisted that the term, which had come into general use in the
literature, continue to be used, then the spelling should be
consistent with what is on the manuscript even if the manuscript
had it spelled differently.

The chief editors rejected both of my recommendations. They
insisted that it be included where appropriate and that its
spelling be retained at "Gran Partita."

Since that time, I have written several technical articles on K.
361, mostly for the Mozart Jahrbuch, and whenever the term had to
be employed I always spelled it "Gran Partitta." Three editors of
the Jahrbuch pointed out to me that that was not the traditional
spelling, and I pointed out to them that the traditional spelling
was incorrect. It has always been spelled my way in any
technical material I have written on the subject. And I'm
beginning to see it more and more spelled the way I suggest.

In fact, when I wrote my fiction novel, "The Mozart Forgeries,"
the work appears in the book, and the subtitle is spelled my way.
So far, no one has commented, which breaks my heart.

I am standing up, while the rest of the world is sitting down. I
can't take responsibility if the rest of the world is wrong. But
they are. Who wrote it doesn't matter. What the contemporary
spelling is doesn't matter. What matters is that those words are
written on the manuscript by somebody, and that is the only
reason why the term is used.

You owe me a pizza. And Kevin should get out from underneath the
bed where he is hiding and buy me two pizzas.


Dan Leeson

-----Original Message-----
From: Don Yungkurth []
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2005 1:42 PM
To: Klarinet
Subject: [kl] Gran "Partitta" Spelling

Dan Leeson said:

>Sorry Kevin, when it comes to Prokofieff spelling, you can chalk
>that up to spelling stupidity. But when it comes to Gran
>Partitta, I'm afraid that the rest of the world is wrong.

>It's tough to be standing up while everyone else is sitting
>but Gran Partitta is correct. Would you care to place a modest
>wager on it??

I usually don't question Leeson on Mozart, but, if I recall
correctly, Dan, you said at one time that it is "Partitta"
because it is spelled that way on the manuscript. I believe you
have also stated that "Gran Partitta" on the manuscript is not in
Mozart's hand. If so, then why is "Partitta" correct?

I've probably misquoted you - could you clarify?


Don Yungkurth

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