Tag: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (page 1 of 4)

Chansons des franc-maçons

For the 260th birthday of music’s favorite Freemason, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, here is a recent acquisition:  Recueil de chansons des franc-maçons à l’usage de la Loge de Ste Geneviefve. A very rare collection of sixty Masonic songs, it was published in Paris in 1763 and sold by Charles-Antoine Jombert.

Gilt-stamped morocco spine label. Mus 558.8

Gilt-stamped morocco spine label. Mus 558.8

This volume is in four parts. The first, which does not have a title, contains such songs as the florid Chanson des maitres and a combative march called La main aux armes. Part two describes Les plaisirs de la Maçonnerie, specifically Une aimable fraternité, La sagesse et l’innocence and Une égalité parfaite. Part three contains Noels en C fol ut (Fidele a Dieu bon citoyen), and part four Noels en G ré sol (Amis de la concorde).

Chanson des maitres. Mus 558.8

Chanson des maitres. Mus 558.8

This item joins several other collections of Masonic songs at the Isham Memorial Library, the special collections library located with the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. These include The Masonick minstrel (Dedham, MA: 1816) and Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge (compiled in Germany between 1803 and 1805).

It is perhaps an overstatement to call Mozart a full-fledged political Mason. He was active in his local lodge, Zur Wohlthätigkeit, and enjoyed close friendships with his Masonic brothers. He composed music for the lodge’s meetings, such as the cantata Die Maurerfreude, K. 471, for tenor, male chorus and orchestra, and the Maurerische Trauermusik, K. 477, which went through arrangements for many permutations of instruments.

Newly Digitized: 1805 Mozart Thematic Catalogue

Included in the bulk lot of autograph manuscripts Johan Anton André purchased from Mozart’s widow Constanze in 1799 was Mozart’s Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke, a thematic catalogue of works composed between February of 1784 and November of 1791 (now held by the British Library, and published online with extensive notes in their Digitised Manuscripts collection).1

Creating a published record of Mozart’s works was a priority for both Constanze and André; and soon after acquiring the manuscripts, André used the Verzeichnüss as the basis for a thematic catalogue published in two editions (1805 and 1828).

Thematisches Verzeichniss sämmtlicher Kompositionen von W.A. Mozart, pg.50-51 (Dec. 1789-June 1790). Merritt Room ML134.M9 A23

Thematisches Verzeichniss sämmtlicher Kompositionen von W.A. Mozart, pg.50-51 (Dec. 1789-June 1790). Merritt Room ML134.M9 A23 (click to enlarge)

This 1805 first edition – the earliest surviving lithographed book – reproduces the format and order of Mozart’s catalogue, while paraphrasing Mozart’s descriptions in German and French. On the verso of each opening, the compositions (usually five per page) are listed by date, title, and instrumentation, while the corresponding musical incipits appear on the recto.

The 1828 second edition, in German, transcribes Mozart’s descriptions of each piece. Both correct a mistake in the manuscript and number the works 1-145.

While the task of compiling a complete thematic catalogue occupied André for over 30 years, it remained unpublished at his death in 1842, although it survives in manuscript. Nonetheless, his work studying and publishing Mozart’s works remains important to later editors and scholars.

-Kerry Masteller


1. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke vom Monath febrario 1784 bis Monath [November] 1[791]. British Library, Zweig MS 63, http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Zweig_MS_63.

2. André, Johan Anton. W. A. Mozart’s thematischer Catalog: wie er solchen vom 9. Februar 1784 bis zum 15. November 1791 eigenhändig geschrieben hat nebst einem erläuternden Vorbericht (Offenbach: André, 1828), http://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/en/fs1/object/display/bsb10598863_00001.html.

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