WestConn professor to perform Mozart premiere in Vienna

DANBURY, CONN. — As a violinist with the Manhattan String Quartet, Professor of Music Eric Lewis has performed some of the world’s most treasured classical compositions on countless stages throughout the United States and Europe. At this point in his career, there probably isn’t much he hasn’t seen or done when it comes to playing the violin. So when he was offered the opportunity to perform the premiere of a newly discovered composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lewis didn’t hesitate to accept the honor.

More then 50 years ago Mozart’s “Triple Sinfonie Concertante” was discovered by one of Vienna’s most celebrated violinists. When Eduard Melkus unearthed the piece in the archives at The Mozarteum in Salzburg, it was an incomplete manuscript, so he immediately went to work to finish it for the world to hear. Melkus, who owned Leopold Mozart’s violin and donated it to the Kunsthistoriches Museum, restructured the piece and then had it published.

Melkus has also written several journal articles on the discovery, most recently printed in Vienna explaining the process he went through over the last 50 years to bring the Mozart Triple Concerto to publication and performance. Lewis translated one of Melkus’s articles on his work regarding the Mozart discovery from Viennese-German to English. It will be published in Vienna and the U.S. this spring.

The “Triple Sinfonie Concertante,” which contains the only known solo work for cello written by Mozart, will be performed for the first time this spring in Vienna and Lewis will play the violin part.

Lewis was in Vienna at a music conference with the Manhattan String Quartet in January and he visited with Melkus at his home. Melkus showed Lewis the piece and explained its history. Then the famed violinist asked Lewis to perform in the premiere.

“He said to me ‘I’ve been thinking about this and you’re the one to perform this,’ Lewis recalled. “My jaw just dropped. Here he is looking at me, an American, and asking me to play this. I was taken aback.” Melkus said Lewis was perfect to play the piece because of his Viennese style, which he developed while at the Manhattan School of Music.

Lewis said the concerto is unique in that it includes the cello, and he described the concerto as being on par with other Mozart concertos. “I love it,” Lewis said. “It’s a fresh, new discovery. It’s appealing, lyrical, exciting.”

The premiere of “Triple Sinfonie Concertante” will be May 6 at The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna as part of Melkus’s music and art series.


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