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Shedding light on the authenticity and mysteries of Mozart's personal catalogue through innovative technology

So, we are delving into the mysteries surrounding Mozart. Everyone knows that Mozart had a tragically short life, passing away in 1791 at 35. After Mozart departed from this world, his wife, Constanze, authenticated his personal catalogue, which meticulously detailed his compositions between 1784 and 1791. It is intriguing that the catalogue never surfaced during Mozart's lifetime, and Constanze is the lone verifier of this piece of history. Despite this curious backdrop, scholars accepted it, no questions asked.

The catalogue is not just a list; it is a musical ledger of 145 compositions and has been pivotal for Constanze in validating and selling Mozart's unattributed works. Currently housed in the British Library, in London, this document began its journey in a notebook marked 'Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke' back in 1784.

The methods used here are anything but ordinary. We are talking about detailed graphic forensic analysis unveiling intricate inconsistencies. And, to sink our teeth deeper into these disparities, we engineered a bespoke C# software. Its database was loaded with Mozart's manuscript symbols and characters.

The software we wrote has three core modules: an editor for data input, a database manager complete with search functionalities, and a tool for scrutinizing and contrasting character features. It is like having a magnifying glass. The marvel of technology allows the research team to accomplish tasks in moments that would otherwise have taken years of manual work.

The study brings to light the lesser-explored handwriting of Mozart, an arena that has seen forgeries slip through, thanks to the existing knowledge vacuum. By juxtaposing Mozart's letters with the catalogue entries from the corresponding years, the software spotlighted recurrent words, and by analyzing various parameters, the team unearthed significant discrepancies. The findings are riveting; the results hint at disparities within the catalogue, spotlighting a forgery of the last decade of the 18th century.

Now, the writing inconsistencies are a telling tale indicative of different authors or shifts in style. Take the word 'Bassi', for instance. The representation in Mozart's manuscripts and its appearance in the catalogue stand in stark contrast. And there is more! The clefs in the catalogue, for instance, differ in size from Mozart’s other works, suggesting different writers or a shift in writing style that seems improbable for a seasoned composer.

Hesitant strokes and varied pressure hint at an imitation game. Even more fascinating are the catalogue's tempo, measure structures, and notation elements. They are offbeat when compared to Mozart's original manuscripts.

One instance even showed a duplicated entry—a hallmark of a copyist's blunder. And here is another strong incongruence that has so far not been sufficiently studyed. the catalogue's watermark is the same as a letter from 1802, adding more layers to the already convoluted mystery surrounding the origin of the Catalogue.

Lastly, even the ink in the catalogue differs consistently from the manuscripts penned in the same month. And contrastingly, Mozart's letters depicted monthly ink variances. While there is a monthly ink variation in the letters, the same ink is used for many months in the catalogue. To sum it up, this intricate journey into the maestro's catalogue, allowed by innovative technology, has pulled the curtains back on a series of anomalies and incongruences in the catalogue, putting its authenticity under the spotlight and opening the floor for further intriguing explorations into Mozart's life and works.

Luca Bianchini, Anna Trombetta