Personal manuscript of Mozart digitized by British Library

Mozart's Thematic CatalogCourtesy of the British Library

March 12, 2018

Mozart's Thematic Catalog (from the British Library's official site)

This manuscript is Mozart's record of his compositions in the last seven years of his life, and thus is a uniquely important document.

During this period, from February 1784 until December 1791, he composed many of his best-known works, including his five mature operas, several of his most beautiful piano sonatas, and his last three great symphonies, as well as several famous lesser works. It was a turbulent time of his life, with financial crises, family tragedy, and his ongoing unsuccessful search for a permanent court position.

Description on front cover
Description on front cover
Courtesy of the British Library

Mozart organized the entries in the catalog in the order in which they were completed. On the left-hand page he entered five compositions, each with its date, title, and often its instrumentation. He sometimes added further information such as the name of the singer, where it was composed, or who had commissioned the piece. He divided the right-hand page into five pairs of staves on which he wrote the opening bars of each work.

According to the description on the front cover, Mozart planned to include all his compositions, but there are a few minor omissions. Intriguingly, there are also entries in the catalog for a number of works that have since been lost.

Mozart made his last entry in the catalog just three weeks before his early death in December 1791. His last great work, a requiem, was not entered as it remained unfinished at his death.

Resources

Explore the catalog (interactive gallery)
The British Library (official site)