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K is for Koechel: The Story Behind Those Mozart Numbers

From: Georgia Public Broadcasting
Length: 58:35

A colorful history of the K numbers we use to keep tabs on Mozart's music.

Koechel_small If you listen to classical radio, eventually you'll hear something like: "Here's a divertimento, number 136 in the Koechel catalog of Mozart's works." Who or what is Koechel? Ludwig Koechel (Ludwig von K?chel) was an amateur musician in 19th century Austria who had a thing for Mozart. He set out to track down what all Mozart wrote and arrange it all by date of composition. Koechel's "catalog," published in 1862, was the first systematic index of any European composer's music. It ran from a tiny childhood harpsichord piece of Mozart's, K. 1, up to the Requiem Mozart was working on at the time of his death, K. 626. Koechel got an impressive amount right - but not everything. He assigned numbers to a few pieces that weren't really by Mozart; he left out a few pieces that really are; and more importantly, not every work was - or could be - dated correctly. In "K is for Koechel," Mozart scholar Neal Zaslaw and his daughter, Sarah Zaslaw of GPB, explore how Koechel got as close as he did and what we know now that Koechel didn't. Along the way, they look at myths of genius, how Mozart really composed, the ways later scholars tinkered with Koechel's chronology, the formula connecting K numbers to Mozart's age, modern forensic Mozart sleuthwork from paper dating to handwriting analysis, and plans for the forthcoming New Kochel Catalog. And beyond the talk, there's plenty of time in the hour for what makes it all matter: Mozart's music.

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Piece Description

If you listen to classical radio, eventually you'll hear something like: "Here's a divertimento, number 136 in the Koechel catalog of Mozart's works." Who or what is Koechel? Ludwig Koechel (Ludwig von K?chel) was an amateur musician in 19th century Austria who had a thing for Mozart. He set out to track down what all Mozart wrote and arrange it all by date of composition. Koechel's "catalog," published in 1862, was the first systematic index of any European composer's music. It ran from a tiny childhood harpsichord piece of Mozart's, K. 1, up to the Requiem Mozart was working on at the time of his death, K. 626. Koechel got an impressive amount right - but not everything. He assigned numbers to a few pieces that weren't really by Mozart; he left out a few pieces that really are; and more importantly, not every work was - or could be - dated correctly. In "K is for Koechel," Mozart scholar Neal Zaslaw and his daughter, Sarah Zaslaw of GPB, explore how Koechel got as close as he did and what we know now that Koechel didn't. Along the way, they look at myths of genius, how Mozart really composed, the ways later scholars tinkered with Koechel's chronology, the formula connecting K numbers to Mozart's age, modern forensic Mozart sleuthwork from paper dating to handwriting analysis, and plans for the forthcoming New Kochel Catalog. And beyond the talk, there's plenty of time in the hour for what makes it all matter: Mozart's music.

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Review of K is for Koechel: The Story Behind Those Mozart Numbers

Looking for a way to answer one of the most asked question in classical music, while listening to some of the best music ever written?

"K is for Koechel: The Story Behind Those Mozart Numbers" goes beyond the numbers and provides a ton of provocative background information and insight into Mozart and his compositional process. Myths and Mozart myth-makers are busted, and the often used descriptor "genius" is properly defined and put into perspective. (He's still a genius, by the way.)

Beyond the insight, history and well researched speculation, the program insightfully recognizes what "makes it all matter: Mozart's music." And your host/producer Sarah Zaslaw, joined by her father (and Mozart scholar) Neal Zaslaw, wisely and cleverly keeps everything from crossing over into the dark side of the classical music education vortex. Zaslaw's bit at the beginning on how to pronounce and spell Koechel is one of several high points.

For classical music-formatted stations and all stations whose listeners value great music and a little "lifelong learning." Meaning...it can play well on non-classical stations with planning and proper promotion. Good for the evening and all weekend long -- try it before the MET or before/after WATC.

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Review of K is for Koechel: The Story Behind Those Mozart Numbers

Interesting, enjoyable and accessible to all.

Broadcast History

"K is for Koechel" was first broadcast January 27, 2006 over the Georgia Public Broadcasting network and rebroadcast in December.

It has since aired over...

Iowa Public Radio (Iowa City/Cedar Rapids and Dubuque) - September 24 and 27, 2006.

WFIU Bloomington, Indiana - October 15, 2006

WCQS Asheville, N.C. (Western North Carolina Public Radio) - June 27, 2007

KBYU Provo, Utah - September 25, 2007

Transcript

See attached files.
Read the full transcript

Musical Works

See attached files.

Additional Files