The Ever-Expanding Classical Repertoire

My program on WTJU, “Gamut,” is one of exploration. When I started the program, I decided not to repeat any work — each show would have music that I had never aired before.

One of the questions I’m repeatedly asked is, “Won’t you run out of music?”

Not likely. We’re talking about 1,000 years of music, and more being written every day. And there’s more being discovered, too.

Last week, two piano pieces by Mozart came to light. Sure, they’re over 200 years old, but no one’s heard them since they were composed, so the music’s certainly new to us!

The music resided in the Mozarteum Foundation of Salzburg, and was only recently authenticated. Mozart wrote a finite number of works, and its natural to assume that his catalog of works was set shortly after his death. And even if there are early works and unpublished manuscripts not found initially, that the chances of finding them would dramatically decrease over time.

After all, these manuscripts would be stored (most likely) in central Europe. The places where they resided would have had to survive the ravages of the Napoleonic Wars and two World Wars. Not to mention fires, floods and other natural disasters. And the inevitable decay of the paper itself, becoming more brittle and fragile over time, the ink fading as it chemically breaks down. And the custodians themselves — some consider old documents a historic treasure; some just so much waste paper to burn.

It’s natural to think that after two centuries whatever was going to be found has been found. But the world continues to surprise.

So I’m not worried about running out of music for “Gamut.” I haven’t even played all the Mozart currently available, and after last week, I need to add two more works to my list!

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