UNFINISHED MUSICAL MASTERPIECES. “Every unfinished masterpiece has a tremendous story behind it,” according to Professor Bill Cotte.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wanted to showcase his new wife’s voice and to impress his oppressive father. To achieve that goal, he began composing the “Grosse Messe”, the Mass in C minor. His father was impressed; the piece served its purpose. However, Mozart never completed it.
This is one of the “finest Masses in Western culture,” says Cotte. “It is a significant, beautiful, and important piece, even unfinished.”
A member of the music faculty since 1990, Cotte brings his audio-visual lecture series “Great Unfinished Musical Masterpieces” to Lyndon State on consecutive Mondays in April. The series begins on April 9, continues on the 16th, and culminates on the 23rd. Cotte will explore the mystery of four of the greatest composers—Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mahler. These composers have left masterpieces that for unusual, ambiguous, or obscure reasons were never completed. Many of these works have become an integral part of Classical music performances.
Cotte will discuss the puzzle surrounding Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.” Schubert wrote the “Symphony No. 8 in B minor” as a gift to the Graz Musical Society for granting him an honorary degree. He gave the piece to Anselm Huttenbrenner, a friend who was also a representative of that society. It remained in a drawer for over 40 years until shortly before Huttenbrenner’s death. The score was found with torn-out pages. Why did Huttenbrenner hang on to the manuscript for so long? Did he damage the score and then hide it out of a feeling of shame and guilt?
Each lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Burke Mountain Room, which is located on the top floor of the Samuel Read Hall Library at Lyndon State College. The series can be enjoyed as a whole over three nights, or as individual programs. The William Cotte lectures are free and open to the public and are sponsored by Lyndon State College Lecture and Arts Series.