Fugue in G Minor KV 401/375e

by W. A. Mozart (1756–1791)

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Instrument(s): Piano Style: Classical
Opus: KV 401/375e Date of composition: 1782
Source: Breitkopf und Härtel (1878-1887) Copyright: Public Domain    CC: No rights reserved
Last updated: 2008/Mar/13. View change history Music ID Number: Mutopia-2008/03/13-423
Typeset using: LilyPond, version 2.11.42  

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Dennis Pajot has written a short article about this piece and two other Mozart fugues on Mozartforum at: http://www.mozartforum.com/Discussion%20Archive/2004April.htm#573.

This is the score of the Fugue in G Minor KV 401 for piano (organ?), written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and completed by Abbe' Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833), presumably after Mozart's death. The source text used is a reprint of the Alte Mozart Ausgabe (Old Mozart Edition), published by Breitkopf & Haertel in the second half of the XIX century.

I included a transcription of this fugue for piano four-hands, in order to overcome the difficulty of playing it using only two hands (see "Performance Notes" below).

Performance Notes

The score of Fugue KV 401 is extremely difficult to be played, particularly because of the broad intervals between simultaneous notes in the left hand (e.g. bars 16-17), which require the performer to have a very big hand. In his Mozart's bibiography ("Mozart", Suhrkamp Verlag - Frankfurt am Main, 1977), Wolfgang Hildesheimer notes that Mozart "played this piece with no help, while others could manage it only via a four-hand execution."

It has been suggested that such passages required a modified piano with pedals like an organ. Such instruments were used in Mozart's time with apparently good success, as a passage in a letter by Mozart's father proves:

"Since my arrival your brother's fortepiano has been carried from the house to the theatre or to another house at least 12 times. He has had a big pedal-fortepiano made which stands under the grand piano, is three spans longer and surprisingly heavy..." (letter from Leopold Mozart to his daughter, 12 Mar 1785)

In his preface to the Eulenburg edition (1981) of Mozart's Piano Concerto in D minor KV 466 (which contains a passage of similar conception in bars 88-89), Paul Badura-Skoda embraces this theory and explicitly mentions Fugue KV 401:

"There is [...] another composition for organ or pedal piano by Mozart which evidently made allowances for such a possibility [i.e. to be played on a pedal-piano]: the unfinished Fugue in G minor K401 (375e). An arrangement for piano duet used for present-day performances of this Fugue and similarly in the D minor Concerto the low bass notes could be played by another pianist sitting next to the soloist." (Paul Badura-Skoda, preface to the Piano Concerto in D minor K466, Eulenburg 1981).

The fact that such a Fugue could require a pedal-piano is enforced when noticing that the broad intervals mentioned above appear only in the left-hand part.

All these facts fully justifies the need for a four-hand version of the score. This has been made by simply distributing the four voices among each hand.

Maurizio Tomasi, March 2008

Maintainer: Maurizio Tomasi zio_tom78 (at) hotmail.com http://www.geocities.com/zio_tom78/