Was Mozart a plagiarist?

More from this show

Long before Ed Sheeran was taken to court for allegedly borrowing someone else’s music, Mozart was “admiring” the work of the Haydn brothers.

Led by MusicaNova Music Director and Conductor Warren Cohen, Mozart the Plagiarist, features Mozart’s incredible Jupiter Symphony as well as Joseph Haydn’s earlier Symphony No. 13.

Audiences will be able to compare the two works and hear the irrefutable evidence.

“The beginning of the last movement of Mozart’s Symphony begins identically to the last movement of Haydn’s Symphony No.13,” Cohen said. “There’s a lot of wiggle room in terms of what that means and whether or not that makes him a plagiarist.”

It can’t be sure if Mozart was actually plagiarizing or if it was simply inspiration.

“In this particular case, if you take a look at those combinations of notes, that’s an extraordinarily common combination of notes,” Cohen said.

According to Cohen, this is common with a lot of artists, they incorporate notes from other pieces to their own creations.

“The interesting this is that there’s a limited amount of information in music that sounds good and therefore, you will see the same things coming up over and over again,” Cohen said.

Cohen states that there are only 10 sequences of chords that work together in music.

More recently, Ed Sheeran won a copyright infringement lawsuit for his famous song, “Thinking out Loud”.

The lawsuit stated that Ed Sheeran copied not notes but the rhythm and chord progression of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On”.

However, in Mozart’s case, Cohen believes that it might not just have been him drawing inspiration but there must have been some deception.

“Mozart in other cases, was known to have actually deceive people and use material from other composers,” Cohen said.

Warren Cohen, MusicaNova Orchestra Conductor and Music Director

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
aired May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: