Hits keep coming for Mozart’s birthday

From the Associated Press

Mozart is still generating hits: millions of them, in fact.

A jubilee year of celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth ended Friday with a flourish: As a harpsichord player tapped out a posthumous premiere of a previously unknown tune, a new online database of all of Mozart’s works got its 20 millionth page view.

“The interest exceeded even our boldest expectations,” said Ulrich Leisinger, head of research at the International Mozart Foundation, which added two extra Web servers to handle “hits” after it launched the 24,000-page Internet catalog earlier this month.

Underscoring how Mozart’s music is still winning fans on every continent, reclusive North Korea’s state symphony orchestra performed “The Marriage of Figaro” and other works at a concert this week in Pyongyang, the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported Friday.


In Salzburg, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756, unsigned sheet music found sandwiched between the pages of a tattered old notebook -- acquired a few months ago by the city’s Roman Catholic archive -- was performed.

Classical music scholars and local officials sat in rapt silence as “Allegro di Wolfgango Mozart” -- a mere 91 measures long -- was played on a harpsichord, Mozart’s favored instrument, in one of several concert halls that regularly hosts performances during the annual Salzburg Festival.

“We can’t yet prove conclusively that the allegro is a Mozart composition ... but the connection to Mozart is clear,” researcher Christoph Grosspietsch told the Austria Press Agency.

More study will be needed before the tune is assigned a number and officially cataloged as a Mozart work, he added.


Other experts who attribute the allegro to the young Mozart said they believe it probably dates from before 1769 -- when he was 13 -- and that he may well have penned the piece even earlier, at the tender age of 6 or 9.

“The context, as well as the music, strongly suggests that the piece can be attributed to the young Mozart,” Ernst Hintermaier, director of the Archdiocese of Salzburg’s archive, said this week.

The piece was premiered as a year of Mozart concerts and exhibitions held around the globe winds down.

It got off to an unusual start last January with a much-hyped documentary aired on national television about a new DNA analysis of a skull some say belonged to Mozart. The tests were inconclusive.


Mozart died in 1791 at age 35. He was buried in a pauper’s grave in Vienna.