It’s 42!

The extraordinary news from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, that the 82-year-old librarian, Joseph Havashvilli of the city’s 380-year-old conservatory of music, had concealed for the last sixty years, Mozart’s Symphony No. 42, has amazed the music world.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Musicologists have known ever since 1791 that Mozart sketched in the greatest detail a symphony to rival the “Jupiter,” his Symphony No. 41. But at the time of his death and amidst the ensuing confusion, many of his late manuscripts including this last symphony were lost. In the intervening 200+ years, the work has been sold to aristocratic collectors across Europe, finding its way via St. Petersburg and Uzbekistan to the collection of Havashvilli who admitted his priceless possession on his deathbed last Sunday. His wife Inashvilli will be awarded an undisclosed sum from the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria for the symphony’s return. The Mozarteum is already planning its first performance tentatively scheduled for January 27, 2012, Mozart’s birthday, when it will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Musicians who have already see the work have praised its brilliance and creativity. The first movement begins with a theme similar in many ways to the last movement of the “Jupiter” but, some have opined, more original and discursive with its rapid question and answer characteristics.

Mozart Symphony 42 "Uranus"

The slow movement has been described as prescient of the opening of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, and the Minuet and Trio, more scherzo in character than any previous work, foreshadows the faster variations from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. But it is the last movement with its driving rhythms, use of trombones, marimba, bass drum, and off-stage chorus that has already earned the work its sobriquet “Uranus.”

In the meantime, those who have read and consumed Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will smile at the thought that the answer to life, the universe, and everything, really is 42.

About the author

Tony Woodcock
Tony Woodcock

New England Conservatory President [b]Tony Woodcock[/b] grew up in the Middle East, England, and Wales, where he studied music at University College, Cardiff. After leaving the university, Woodcock took positions with regional music promoters, and later ran the newly opened St. David's Hall, the National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales.

Before coming to the United States, Woodcock held top positions with the City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox Singers, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In Liverpool, he played a significant role in planning the 150th anniversary and commissioned Paul McCartney to write his first-ever classical piece, The Liverpool Oratorio.

Woodcock came to the US in 1998, when he was invited to take over the Oregon Symphony. He remained in that position until 2003, when he became President of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Deeply committed to education, Woodcock led the Minnesota Orchestra to win back-to-back ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Awards for Excellence in Educational Programming and secured underwriting to make the orchestra’s popular family
series admission-free.

A self-styled "recovering Brit," Woodcock took steps to permanently cure his condition. In summer 2009, he and his wife Virginia were sworn in as American citizens.

Read Tony Woodcock's blog [l=]here[/l].

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