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Composition date - July or November 1785
It's complicated, but the date of the FIRST composition was almost certainly July, 1785. This was a choral version using a male chorus and a "cantus firmus" vocal line, followed by a purely instrumental version in November for the memorial service for the 2 prominent Masons (The Masonic Funeral Music).
This piece exists in 3 versions: 1. A choral version (Meistermusik - no K Number). 2. A purely instrumental version (K.477 - the Masonic Funeral Music). 3. An enhanced instrumental version with more instruments, presumably for a December performance (K.477, Enhanced Version - the version normally heard today).
The July entry in Mozart's Catalog had to have been written in November since the event was listed along with it (the deaths and funeral music). But in Mozart's catalog, he listed the MFM ahead of K.478 which was written in October. That sequence is one of several clues that he wrote it in a month preceeding October. For the category of the month of November, he did not enter the MFM. Why not? Because he wrote the piece in July - at least the CHORAL version. The 2 versions are nearly identical with the choral version essentially being the MFM with a chorus (for the most part). I have a copy of Mozart's Thematic Catalog. Mozart mistakenly (?) entered K.478 under July also (rather than October), but at least he entered the sequence of the 2 pieces correctly: K.477, K.478. There's other evidence, but it gets very lengthy and complicated. The sequence of those 2 pieces in his catalog plus no mention of the MFM in November should be sufficient evidence that the original music for the MFM was not composed in November. It was just a VERSION of it which was done in November, nearly identical to the first one. He dated the MUSIC correctly, but omitted the first and lesser event of the elevation of a visitng Mason to Master in August. Doing catch-up work on his catalog in November, he listed the more important event: the deaths of the 2 Masonic Brothers in November for which it was performed again.
2 events, 1 set of music (essentially), composed prior to K.478, correctly listed under July for a Masonic ceremony in August, but the more important event (the deaths of the 2 Masonic Brothers) accompanied the entry, written in November due to some administrative procrastination on Mozart's part. (And evidently a 3rd event in December for which he added more instruments to the MFM. But this was a minor revision compared with the Meistermusik-to-MFM conversion. It's the version of the MFM heard today.)
Mozart normally entered the MUSIC only once in his catalog, not repeating an entry if it was essentially the same music for a different Event or purpose. In other words, his Thematic Catalog was primarily a book of Music - not Events, even though he also listed the event or person or opera, etc, along with it. For example, if one of his operas was revived or produced in some city for the first time, he didn't list it again in his catalog. That would be an Event-Driven catalog. And in doing catch-up work on his catalog, evidently sometime in November (after November 7th when the 2nd Mason died), he listed the music as having been composed in July, but listed the event as being the deaths of the 2 men. 1 set of music, 2 events, the more important event listed in his catalog. His catalog is slightly messed up on that page, but mostly correct, and with pieces listed in the correct sequence - which may have been more important to Mozart than listing the correct date.
If someone says "July must be a mistake", they need to have their ducks lined up and explain why he listed the MFM prior to an October piece, and why he didn't list it under November. The "mistake" theory is a push-button ejection seat, in some cases, and carried to extremes, one could claim that Beethoven wrote the MFM, with scholars mistakenly believing that it was Mozart's handwriting on the score and in the catalog. If "July" was a mistake, prove it. If "July" was a mistake, it's "evidence", and it needs support just like any other kind of evidence. I've never seen any such evidence.
I think July is correct, and there's a great deal of evidence to back it up - the first piece of evidence being that Mozart said so in his catalog. Web page article coming shortly.
- New Web Page Article, July 2014:
I wrote this lengthy article on Meistermusik to list and clarify the many points involved in the Meistermusik issue. One of the points of evidence for the authenticity of Meistermusik is the perfect match of notes in the MFM with the syllables of some Masonic "Holy Text" - the Third Lamentations of Jeremiah. 38 notes and 38 syllables in the middle section match each other exactly. That's proof of Meistermusik.
Tributes to Michael Haydn and Nancy Storace were probably involved, as well as a possible lament for the victims of the Inquisition in Venice, who were said to cross over to the Dungeon on the Bridge of Sighs from the Courtroom. (They probably didn't, but the Bridge DOES lead from the Courtroom to the Dungeon, and the name stuck.) It's a complicated fabric of circumstances and motives, but for Mozart, living some of it at the time, it was probably not as complex as it seems to us today.
The idea that the Masonic Funeral Music had no predecessors makes no sense when you consider the many issues involved, plus the HUGE over-delivery of pathos for these two swells. And one of them (Mecklenburg) died in Hungary - not even in Austria or Vienna. Did they really rate this aching, yearning, deep, emptional, intense music?? Two aristocrats?? It doesn't compute for me. But for Nancy Storace, and his friend Michael Haydn and his tragic life, plus the closing of the Venice Masonic Lodge by the Church, and the shadows of the Inquisition, etc, it does compute. That would be Meistermusik - not the MFM. And it was composed sometime in July 1785, as shown in his catalog, and performed that August. That is, "The Essential MFM" was composed in July in the form of Meistermusik, later tailored for the November funeral version, as the Masonic Funeral Music, K.477 .
To compose the Masonic Funeral Music, Mozart used Meistermusik as a foundation, and got the job done fairly rapidly - probably for free. And the two aristocrats received a marvelous and wonderful send-off, probably far greater than they deserved - even if they were "good guys". Mozart had done his duty for the Lodge and the deceased Masons, and I would think that everyone would have been fully and completely satisfied, very impressed with the deeply moving music tailored for the occasion, probably far beyond what any other Masons of that era received.
It's all on the new web page, complete with a picture of Mecklenburg - one of the aristocrats who died in November of 1785 in Hungary, and part of the reason for the composition of the MFM, or rather, the tailoring of Meistermusik to create the MFM.
Footnote from "Abert, Spencer & Eisen", p. 782:
The circumstances surrounding the composition and performance of the Masonic Mourning Music have never been clear. If the date of the work, given as July 1785 in Mozart's own thematic catalogue, is correct, then it cannot have been written for the detahs of his two Masonic brothers (Georg August von Mecklenburg-Strelitz died only on 6 November and Franz Esterhasy on 7 November), althought it was performed at a funeral celebration for them held at the 'Crowned Hope' Lodge on 17 November. Autexier, 'Wann wurde die Mauererische Trauermuische uraufgefurht,' speculates that the work existed in an earlier, texted version. It may be, however, that the date in Mozart's Verzeichnuss is wrong: the next item in it, the G minor piano quartet K478, is dated 'July' in the catalogue but 16 October on the autograph, which is more likely to be correct. It is possible, then, that both K477 and 478 were entered retrospectively by Mozart in his work-list and that he misremembered their dates of composition. Further, see Heinz Schuler, 'Mozarts "Maurerische Trauermusik" KV 477/479a: Eine Dokumentation'.— Abert, Spencer & Eisen, W.A. Mozart
- Very thorough and clearly thought out. Clearly your talents are wasted on Wikipedia. There's got to be some sort of journal you could work on that would pay something in prestige, even if it pays only slightly better in monetary terms. James470 (talk) 02:04, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
- I copied that verbatim from a footnote in a book. I actually don't have the writing skills to incorporate that into the article without plagiarizing so I put it here on the talk page. I used the blockquote tag, but I guess its not obvious that its a quote. I'll look for those cartoony quote tags.... DavidRF (talk) 02:36, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
Basset horn inclusion
The Maurerische Trauermusik is unusual in other respects, including its use of the Gregorian chant, Tonus peregrinus, and its inclusion of the basset horn (the latter trait due to fellow Freemason Vincent Springer playing the instrument at the premiere).
- So, we're saying that Springer came along to the premiere, just started playing along with the other musicians, and Mozart later added a basset horn part to the music, and we only ever now hear the revised music with the basset horn part? Because that's precisely what it seems to be saying. This can't be right, and we need to get the story straight. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 18:59, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Possible arrangement of music from the Great C minor Mass
This could be an arrangement of the missing Agnus Dei of the Great C minor Mass, given the formal structure (correct for an Agnus Dei) and the use of Lamentatio Jeremiae as the cantus firmus for the middle section. See . Double sharp (talk) 11:51, 12 February 2014 (UTC)