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“What’s good for Il Saggiatore [publishing house] in tarnishing the reputation of Italian composers and performers who instead shone throughout Europe? Why do they entrust themselves to a clueless person who doesn’t know Italian, doesn’t know how to score a two-quarter beat and doesn’t compare sources professionally? Who benefits from all this?”

luca bianchini e Anna Trombetta

The “clueless person” referred to by Bianchini and Trombetta in the final flame of their recent post on Facebook (March 10, 2023) is the same character about whom they had written not-so-long-ago on October 27, 2021: “Bauer-Deutsch (BD) published wrong incipits of Mozart’s music, and those mistakes have spread the world over and in all publications of Mozart’s letters. We are honoured that Professor Cliff Eisen from the Music Department of the King’s College, London, has reached out to us to find the right versions. In our book Mozart in Italia, we are publishing for the first time ever those incipits as they are to be read in the autographs, staying faithful to what Mozart actually wrote.” It seems that something has gone wrong in this pathetic novel of unrequited love and fraudulent representation. In this post, which Prof. Cliff Eisen assures us being his last on this issue, some useful insights are offered

A Complete Waste of Time

by Cliff Eisen (edit: Carlo Vitali)

In my most recent post addressing the research of Bianchini and Trombetta, I wrote that Bianchini is the Trump of Mozart studies. This turns out to be a more justifiable comparison than I thought at the time. Then, my chief point of comparison between Trump and Bianchini was that both are woefully ignorant, that neither gets their facts right or for that matter even tries to get the facts right. Bianchini and Trombetta, in their most recent post, take the comparison a step further. Having been told what are the fact, having been shown the documents, having been very clearly informed that they are wrong, they simply ignore that and continue to repeat the same old mistakes. Like Trump says, the election was stolen. Like Bianchini and Trombetta say, Mitridate was stolen. Neither of these assertions is true. And yet they are repeated and repeated and repeated without any regard to the facts or the fact that their inaccuracy has been pointed out repeatedly to their authors by myself and a number of qualified scholars such as Francesco Bellotto (see here), Michele Girardi (see here) and Carlo Vitali (see here). A complete waste of time.

I won’t belabor the point here. Let me just point out the illogicality of Bianchini’s and Trombetta’s argument. On the one hand, they are at pains to argue that Mozart simply copied and plagiarized Gasparini. But then they claim that D’Ettore demanded the rewriting of his arias [for the title-role in Mitridate] because he was not satisfied with those of the Mozart father and son. There are two problems here: one is that, earlier, Bianchini and Trombetta had claimed that Leopold wrote Mitridate, so why, here, do they say ‘father and son’? More serious is the apparent contradiction of claiming on the one hand that Mozart and his father merely copied Gasparini (‘plagiarized, down to the last note’ according to Bianchini and Trombetta), but on the other that D’Ettore was unhappy with the arias. In other words, they are saying D’Ettore was not thrilled with Gasparini’s arias. If Bianchini and Trombetta can’t recognize the illogicality of what they write, well, I don’t know what can be expected of them.

Let’s just note, too, that they hint at the survival of several documents (“fonti storiche”, giudizi dei contemporanei”) justifying their argument, but don’t actually identify them or cite their whereabouts; not very scholarly. As for the assertion that anyone thinks the Adoramus te K327 is by  Mozart, well, even a glance at the Köchel catalogue shows that it has been more than 60 years since anyone even entertained that nineteenth-century notion (based on an insufficient acquaintance with Leopold Mozart’s handwriting) and that the attribution of the work was first questioned 100 years ago. K327 has not become Mozart. K327 has become K6 Anh A10, a copy by Leopold Mozart of a work by Gasparini – and it’s been that for a long, long time.

Finally, it would be helpful if Bianchini and Trombetta were aware of the different approaches a scholar has to take to his material. An edition of letters attempts to explicate a particular text, not to write a counterfactual, uniformed ‘history’ that appeals to its authors. And any good scholar should, of course, be willing to engage in dialogue. Why is it then, that Bianchini and Trombetta’s Facebook pages are so strictly locked-up against free viewing and discussion? If this all doesn’t sound Trumpian, I don’t know what does!

Cliff Eisen