Revealed: How Mozart went pop

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If you are unfamiliar with the Viennese opera The Philosopher's Stone you are in good company. But when you learn that one of its composers was none other than Wolfgang Amadeus himself, your interest in the work might be aroused.

Mozart, it seems, was rather busier at the close of his life than had been previously imagined. According to intriguing new research, he had a hand in two little known works, the Stone and another called The Beneficent Dervish.

The discovery was made by a music professor at the University of Northern Iowa, David Buch.

Like Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute - written in 1791, the year of his death - both the Stone and the Dervish were written for Vienna's Theater auf der Wieden and contain common fantastical themes and fairytale characters.

Details of Mr Buch's findings are to be laid out in a November issue of the Cambridge Opera Journal. So far, musicologists seem ready to give credence to the findings.

Mr Buch made the breakthrough while studying scores in the library of the City and University Library of Hamburg last year. The scores had been taken to Russia at the end of the Second World War and were only recently returned to Germany and made availabe to scholars.

Both the two new operas appear to have been collaborative efforts, involving different composers. The music sheets of the Stone actually have Mozart's name written in those sections to which he apparently contributed. Attributed to Mozart are a duet about a cat that can only meow and large parts of the second-act finale.

The research appears to suggest that Mozart was closely involved in contributing to works that were not exclusively his own. It suggests that, had he lived, he might have headed further downmarket into popular musical comedy.

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