Vasili Byros.

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The Fonte-Romanesca: A New Proposal

Vasili Byros thinks to have found a new model in music, which must be considered a leading pattern in particularly dramatic works, characterized by the so called ombra style, with strong connotations of the funereal and supernatural.

Re-considering Mozart's 1770 Bologna examination with Padre Martini
The lack of analysis of Mozart's 1770 examination work in Bologna (Quaerite primum regnum Dei K86), by correctly following the 18th century use of music models, has led to the strangest theories about the story behind that examination work.
       As Byros clearly points out, the examination work by Mozart was considered just sufficient (i.e. C----) and the reason for this was that Mozart just wrote music, following some musical patterns, he knew well and he thought were correct also for the stile osservato (strict style), and among them the Prinner.
       But young Mozart was not right in treating K86 with Prinner and other galant devices of his era and so his work was considered just sufficient and nothing more...
       Therefore that story (originated somewhere from a not too accurate work by some scholar) of a cover up by Padre Martini through a patent falsification of Mozart's exam work must be considered simply ridiculous and must be totally rejected... even more, because it is sure that young Mozart worked only less than half an hour to complete his exercise K86 and then K86 was sent to the examination board... evidently Padre Martini could have had no time at all to re-write Mozart's exercise K86 in its entirety.
       As Byros clearly points out, the Padre Martini's new version of K86 was written by the father Martini afterwards, in order to explain to young Mozart how he had to write the whole piece in strict style... and not by using a partly galant interpretation of the stile antico.

From Stradella to Corelli... to Bach and Handel... and then to Mozart
Byros then works on Corelli (another member of the most famous Bologna Accademia since 1670... like Mozart, J.C. Bach, Jommelli and many other important composers) and then on Stradella and he can identify a fragment of a work by Stradella (Crocifissione e morte di N.S. Giesù Christo, ca. 1670s) as the original model to a typical Corellian pattern: the so called Fonte-Romanesca, as proposed by Byros himself.
       From that sacred music work by Stradella, such music model regularly appeared in Corelli's compositions (according to Byros's calculation, it appears ca. 44 times in his Concerti Op. 6).
       After Corelli, this model reappears then in Bach's, Bach's children's and in Handel's compositions, and Mozart, who famously spent much time of his life in studying the music of the old masters, must have found this Fonte-Romanesca model both in Corelli's scores themselves and in those by the aforementioned composers, who are well known for having provided music formulas and themes to Mozart himself: just consider how fragments of music from Handel's The Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline, HWV 264 (1737) and Dettingen Anthem, HWV 265 (1743) were re-worked and used by Mozart in his own Requiem.

The use of Corelli's Fonte-Romanesca in Mozart
According to Byros, it is possible to identify the Fonte-Romanesca in many compositions by Mozart and, in particular, in those with strong dramatic or ombra style characteristics, i.e. Sonata K. 310 slow movement, Piano Concerto K. 488, etc.
       Byros's observations led him to find the Fonte-Romanesca model in these works by Mozart:
       1-Keyboard Concerto K.39 (1767) after Schobert;
       2-Sonata K310 (1778) slow movement;
       3-Coronation Mass K317 (1779) Credo;
       4-Concerto K466 (1785) Allegro;
       5-Fantasia K475;
       6-Concerto K488 (1786) Adagio;
       7-Concerto K503;
       8-Prussian Quartet K575 (1789);

The Fonte-Romanesca model: a new proposal
Having this model characteristics typical of both the schemata Fonte and Romanesca, Byros has thought to baptize this peculiar schema (derived from a sacred work by Stradella and copiously used by Corelli) Fonte-Romanesca.
       It must be certainly interesting to consider how this particular funereal and supernatural schema Fonte-Romanesca appeared for the first time in Stradella's work Crocifissione e morte di N.S. Giesù Christo in 1670s and then gloriously reappeared as Mozart's medium in his 1791 Requiem Mass.

Read the complete article by V. Byros (

Mozart's Vintage Corelli: The Microstory of a Fonte-Romanesca

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