James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Watch: Splendid Mozart Flute Concerto Performed For the Very First Time
Tuesday, December 06, 2016 - 12:00 AM
It’s been more than two centuries since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart last graced the earth with his presence. There are a number of celebrations to mark the 225th anniversary of the death of the beloved composer, but it’s Turkey’s International Şefika Kutluer Festival that might be giving us one of the most unique gifts of all: a never-performed Mozart composition.
All-star flutist Şefika Kutluer premiered the Wendling Flute Concerto this past Friday, alongside Tutti Mozart Orchestra conductor Vinicius Kattah. The score, which Kattah called “lost in the literature,” was found in the Swiss library that it had called home for 239 years. Somehow, no one gave much thought to the dusty manuscript, but when Kattah discovered it he dove headfirst into researching the piece, verifying that it was a Mozart original. Personal correspondence between the composer, his mother and his father confirmed the origins of the piece.
Here’s some context: Back in the 1777, Mozart was living life like any other struggling young 20-something. Although he was immensely talented, he was a restless spirit. His tendency to skip work ultimately cost him his job — Mozart was fired from his poorly paying gig with the Salzburg Court. Broke and down on his luck, the 21-year-old packed his bags for what might be called 18th century couch surfing. He (and his mother) moved in with virtuoso flutist Johann Baptist Wendling, who helped the young Mozart improve his flute compositions. This lost concerto was a product of his time with Wendling.
The Wendling Flute Concerto has never before been recorded. A physical release, featuring Kutluer and Tutti Mozart, will be made available early next year. If you can’t wait that long, you’re in luck — the International Şefika Kutluer Festival streamed the performance via Facebook Live.
Check it out below by skipping ahead to the 35 minute mark for the performance.