It’s pretty easy to hoax people. We all want to be deceived, but only up to a point. Some hoaxes are fun and pleasant, others malicious and unpleasant. We’d like a way to tell the difference (Robert Carroll).

Jan 19, 2014

Adelaide – Newly Discovered Concert Written by 10-year-old Mozart

Mozart or no Mozart
It’s still a piece of art
No more this holy fuss
All ears for Casadesus.

No doubt if an undiscovered piece by Mozart suddenly turned up in the modern world, especially a 10-year-old Mozart, it would cause great excitement in the community. And it definitely did.

The Concerto pour la princesse Adélaïde (Adélaïde Concerto) is the nickname of a Violin Concerto in D Major attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and given the catalog number K. Anh. 294a in the third edition of the standard Köchel catalogue of Mozart's works. Unknown until the 20th century, this concerto was later discovered to be a spurious work by Marius Casadesus.

First published in 1933 in a version for violin and piano, the concerto was said by Casadesus, the "editor," to have been arranged from a manuscript by the ten-year-old Mozart, with a title page containing a dedication to Madame Adélaïde de France, eldest daughter of King Louis XV. Conveniently enough, this alleged manuscript was never accessible to later enquirers such as Alfred Einstein and Friedrich Blume, but Casadesus described it, according to Blume, as "an autograph manuscript in two staves, of which the upper stave carries the solo part (including 'tuttis'...) and the lower carries the bass."

In what was surely a nose-tweak at those fooled by this imposture, Casadesus also reported (according to Blume) that "The upper stave is notated in D, the lower in E"! Since the violin is not a transposing instrument, there would have been no obvious technical reason for the upper staff to be written in a different key from the lower staff, especially for what sounds more like a short score than a completed score.

In spite of certain doubts, many music scholars believed in its authenticity, and Yehudi Menuhin made a recording of the concerto. 

Despite the lack of provenance, Blume was thoroughly taken in by the concerto, although Einstein professed himself skeptical. The latter referred to it as "a piece of mystification a la Kreisler." (Fritz Kreisler, the famed violinist, had written several pieces in the styles of composers such as Gaetano Pugnani, Giuseppe Tartini, and Antonio Vivaldi which he had originally passed off as compositions by these older masters.)

Many others expressed similar doubts, but only in 1977 during a copyright dispute did Casadesus admit his authorship of this alleged "Mozart" work.

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