Did you know that the national tour by Michael Jackson and3882it concluded with a final show in Los Angeles. Just recently, when the days were longer and the nights warmer, the Jackson tour was approaching Washington like a noisy freight train down the valley -- preceded by piercing blasts of publicity. For some of us, getting tickets was life-and-death, at the least. Then it passed on and was somewhat forgotten, and meanwhile the reputation of another musician and entertainer, called Prince, grew to heroic proportions, creating confusion about who really was the reigning phenomenon.
Perhaps it was neither, because at the same time the Jackson tour was ending, a video was being made of a new work by a star who has proved himself in the entertainment industry to be a miracle of consistency: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A recently discovered symphony, believed to have been composed by Mozart in 1768, when he was only 12 years old, was performed by the symphony orchestra of Odense, Denmark, in front of an enthusiastic audience that included the Queen Mother Ingrid.
A TV crew filmed the performance of the 15- minute work as part of a documentary about its recovery from obscurity. (The symphony was found in 1982 in municipal files of Odense, where it had lain since a musical society of the Danish city bought it from a German publisher in 1793.) Recordings of the "new" symphony go on sale this week in 15 countries. Apparently the industry thinks it has a hit, although the Associated Press reports that there is some doubt as to whether the work is really Mozart's. Unlike a Michael Jackson glove, a relic of Prince's shredded clothing or a Cabbage Patch doll, this short symphony can be appreciated without its being 100 percent authenticated. "I'm not so obsessed with who wrote it," said Knud Ketting, a Danish music critic. "I'm just glad that we have been handed this gift -- a beautiful, small symphony with an exciting rondo finale. So much the better if it's Mozart."
But most of us who buy the record and watch the film will tell ourselves that of course it's Mozart. We insist on our superstars, preferably with personalities capable of being expanded into something extravagant and controversial, as Mozart's has been in the movie "Amadeus." It's probably only a matter of time before he, too, makes the supermarket tabloids (" 'Friend' Tells All.")
The Jackson tour took in $75 million. The royalties from the new Mozart number are expected to be around $100,000, but an official of Odense said it would be "distasteful" for the city to profit from its find, so the money will go to a foundation that supports its orchestra. Such restraint isn't always the case in the world of superstars.