London music professor completes Mozart's unfinished works with self-described 'bloody cheek'

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A British music professor has completed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s unfinished works in a decade-long effort the classical expert admitted took a “bloody cheek.”

Timothy Jones, who teaches at London’s Royal Academy of Music, released an album last Friday filled with pieces he finished for the 18th-century master, according to CBC Radio.

“I’m not trying to write fake Mozart and I’m not trying to sort of put myself on a pedestal next to him,” Jones told the host of CBC’s “As it Happens.”

He called himself a “bit presumptuous” and said he had a “bloody cheek … to even try” in a separate interview, according to The New York Times.

Jones got the idea 10 years ago while writing a book about Mozart’s composing style.

Handwritten manuscript of Symphony No. 40 K 550 in G minor, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Austria, 18th century. Vienna, Gesellschaft Der Musikfreunde. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

“I became particularly interested in trying to figure out what I could learn from the music he hadn’t finished, as well as the pieces that he had,” Jones said. The body of work, he said, add up to more than 100 fragments of compositions.

“I found I could possibly say more efficiently what I wanted to know about these fragments in notes rather than in words,” he said in the CBC interview.

The idea of completing an artist’s work isn’t unheard of, Times music editor Zachary Woolfe noted, giving Mozart’s Requiem, Mahler’s 10th Symphony and Puccini’s “Turandot” as examples.

In the literary world of unfished works, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” writer Andrew Davies even had a go at finishing Jane Austen’s “Sanditon” for the lavishly done 2019 miniseries, which followed other completions of the unfinished book.

In some cases, Jones completed the music in multiple ways, something Woolfe called “chose-your-own-adventure” composing.

Jones said he wanted to express how “open-ended” Mozart’s music is and that he didn’t have “a clue how Mozart would have finished these unfinished pieces.”

Since he hasn’t revealed which parts of the music were written by him and which parts were composed by Mozart, he said he’s had “plenty of instances” when well-known musicians tell him they liked a section by Mozart that he actually wrote or they criticize him for a section written by the master.

And just like Mozart, the professor said he composed very quickly.

“We know that [Mozart] wrote very quickly,” he told the radio station. “Because lots of his family talked about how he could be sort of lazy for months on end, but then when he started working, he worked very rapidly and very intensively. So most of the composing I did on my 30-minute commute into central London.”

Jones said with Mozart’s works completed, he now plans to return to an unfinished book that he abandoned to take on the Mozart project. 

“Putting the hubris aside,” he said, according to the Times, “I’d much rather Mozart had finished these pieces than I.”

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