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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 15:18 GMT
Mozart score fetches 751,000
Mozart
Mozart: Believed to have written the score in one sitting
An original manuscript of the finale of one of Mozart's best-loved operas, the Marriage of Figaro, has sold for 751,250 at auction.

The 18th-Century score for the final scene of Act IV went under the hammer to an anonymous buyer at Sotheby's in London.

The manuscript is virtually complete and written entirely in the composer's handwriting.

It is also considered particularly valuable as a mark of Mozart's singular genius because he is believed to have written the entire 10-page act in one sitting.

The Marriage of Figaro, composed in 1786, has become the most-performed of all Mozart's operas and is widely considered to be his dramatic masterpiece.

Controversy

The score in the auction was written for the woodwind, brass and timpani and comes as Mozart's comedy of manners and morals reaches a close.

The opera tells the story of a philandering count who is increasingly outwitted by his servants - and eventually his wife.

In the final scene the count has seen the errors of his lustful ways. The countess forgives him, as do his somewhat triumphant staff.

Despite the popularity of the Marriage of Figaro, the piece caused controversy in Mozart's day.

Mozart
He was composing by the age of five
The subversive aspects of the drama, especially the humbling of the overbearing and lascivious count by his "inferiors", were considered particularly troublesome.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1756 and it was soon clear that he was a child prodigy.

He was taught to play the harpsichord, violin, and organ by his father, Leopold, and began composing before he was five.

By the age of 13 he had written concertos, sonatas, symphonies and operas in two languages.

In 1781 he moved to Vienna, where he married Constanze Weber. The final years of his life brought financial hardship and Mozart had to make an income from teaching and giving public concerts.

He died from a feverish illness aged 35 leaving his last work, the Requiem, unfinished.

See also:

14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
New Mozart found in Yorkshire
02 Apr 01 | Health
Mozart 'can cut epilepsy'
11 Jun 01 | Music
Pork chop 'killed Mozart'
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