Out With “Jeunehomme”— In With “Jenamy”

Pianist David Northington will join the KSCO on Sunday for a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, K. 271.  In the tradition of the last 100 years, that concerto has been called the “Jeunehomme,” but that name was given to the concerto early in the 20th century by scholars who probably misunderstood Mozart’s reference to the young female pianist for whom it was written. The nickname stuck.

Musicologist Michael Lorenz of the University of Vienna, however, uncovered information in 2003 in various archives that has solved the mystery and seeks to rectify the unfortunate nickname. According to Lorenz, in September of 1778, Mozart mentioned his current plans in a letter to his father:

“I will give the three concertos, the one for the jenomy [K. 271], litzau [K. 246] and the one in B flat  [K. 238] to the engraver for cash”.

And in other letters, both Mozarts refer to a Madame Jenomy. “Madame Jenomy” was, of course, Victoire Jenamy, the eldest child of Jean Georges Noverre, a dancer and choreographer who was a friend of the young Mozart. When Noverre accepted a post in the Viennese court, Victoire came to Vienna in 1767, later marrying a wealthy merchant, Joseph Jenamy, in 1768.

Lorenz’s research was reported in the New York Times in 2004: “Mozart By Its Rightful Name.”

So, I’m convinced. The “Jenamy” Concerto it is.

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