Prof authenticates lost manuscripts
October 8, 1990, 5:00 am·
For 17 years, Music Professor Eugene Wolf drove to work without realizing that the seminary school he passed every day housed two long-lost Mozart manuscripts. So Wolf was surprised when, in August, officials from the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary called to ask if he would authenticate two manuscripts -- the Fantasy in C Minor and the Sonata in C Minor -- that the seminary's accountant had accidentally found in a school safe. "I had looked in my catalogue of Mozart manuscripts and realized that these two had been missing since 1915," Wolf said. "But they were not really missing at all. Mozart scholars just never tracked them down." Wolf, who specializes in 17th and 18th century music, said the manuscripts are considered by many scholars to be two of Mozart's greatest works for piano. Wolf said that determining whether or not the manuscripts were genuine was simple. He based authenticity on the distinctive handwriting, the type of paper and specific watermarks, the binding and the known lineage of the manuscripts, which suggests that they would have been at the seminary. "For someone who's looked at a lot of Mozart manuscripts, it takes about five minutes," he said. Next month, Sotheby's will sell the manuscripts at an auction in London. Officials of the auction house said that the manuscripts could be worth up to $1.4 million. The seminary will receive the money. Wolf said that the discovery will probably not have a great influence on how the pieces are performed, although the manuscripts contain corrections and sketches that provide new insights into how Mozart composed his works. He said it will be interesting for music scholars to see what Mozart's original intentions were. The professor, who teaches a course in the music of Haydn and Mozart, said that he will definitely incorporate the material found in the manuscripts in his course. "I think it will be fascinating for students to see how Mozart made decisions in his composing," he said. College senior Herbert Yeh, a student in Wolf's History of the Opera course, said that Wolf "teaches music as something that's always changing." "He adds the current developments that you couldn't get from a textbook," Yeh said.