Book review. Mozart Jahrbuch 2001.
Eighteenth Century Music, 3, (1), . (doi:10.1017/S1478570606220542).
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This collection is devoted to the legacy of Wolfgang Plath, whose premature death in 1995 robbed Mozart
scholarship of a distinct and influential voice. It was his conviction that the best research is often the pursuit
of little problems. Plath, clearly influenced by Karl Popper, believed attempts at their solution would lead to
a kind of collective progress in the aggregate. He wasn’t shy about his methodological premises: his
controversial position paper ‘Der gegenwa¨rtige Stand der Mozartforschung’ (1964; reprinted, with the rest
of his works on Mozart, in Mozart-Schriften: Ausgewählte Aufsätze, ed. Marianne Danckwardt (Kassel:
Bärenreiter, 1991), 78–85), which he presented at a panel discussion at the 1964 meeting of the International
Musicological Society in Salzburg, was remarkable both for the controversy it engendered and for its
prescience. In German Mozart research the grand exercises in Geistesgeschichte at which his polemics were
aimed are now more the exception than the rule, and the smaller problems whose solution he proposed as an
alternative continue to set the agenda. Indeed, there is little doubt that the discipline has moved substantially
forward in a series of small steps, and it would be no exaggeration to say that Plath had something to do with
this. Plath’s own interests, besides methodological reflection, included an extremely focused brand of critical
source study, which he pursued in his capacity as one of the lead editors of the Neue Mozart Ausgabe, and an
analytical fascination with compositional process. I found all three here, in five groupings organized mostly
by genre; the final section of the volume is devoted to two ‘Arbeitsgruppen’ (working groups) consisting of
longer essays and substantial transcriptions of plenary discussions.
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