Summer Rest

What would music be without rests?

We’re following suit and giving the blog postings a brief rest for the summer.

Please look forward to the next post on 15 September 2014!

G. Henle Verlag

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Franz Xaver comes to Henle: On the 170th anniversary of the death of Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (29 July 2014)

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, 1825 (Source: Wikimedia.org, Licence: PD)

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, 1825 (Source: Wikimedia.org, Licence: PD)

That Henle is a Mozart publisher should not come as news. Since 2011, however, we are doubly so. Our catalogue offers not only Wolfgang Amadeus Mo­zart’s great works for piano and chamber music as well as solo concertos, but since 2011, also Urtext editions of works by Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mo­zart, youngest son of the celebrated WAM.

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (1791–1844) was only four months old when his father died. High hopes were had of the offspring and everything was done to enable the progeny to follow in his father’s footsteps. He received an excellent mu­si­cal education and soon enough already called himself simply “W. A. Mozart’s son” – a wrong decision, because it is hardly surprising that this legacy became more of a burden than an opportunity. Continue reading

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Where does the key/clef go? About a problematic passage in Schumann’s F-major string quartet

Fig. 1, from: Wilhelm Busch, "Eine kalte Geschichte" (1878)

Fig. 1, from: Wilhelm Busch, "Eine kalte Geschichte" (1878)

Fans of the humourist Wilhelm Busch will certainly be reminded of the story of Mas­ter Zwiel who, upon returning from a tav­ern on a cold winter’s night, stands at his front door with key already in hand and vain­ly seeks the keyhole.

The story ends tragically: Master Zwiel loses the key and falls while searching for it into a water barrel where he finally freez­es to death.

The finale of Robert Schumann’s string quar­tet in F major, Op. 41 No. 2, is not, in fact, quite so dangerous for violists, but there is a connection with Master Zwiel. For the musician also has in hand a key, as it were, but has to search for the matching keyhole – that is, the correct position for the key. [Translator’s note: The German word Schlüssel means both ‘key’ (as used in music notation and as well as in a lock) and ‘clef’, making sense here of the pun.] Continue reading

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Without words, but with a foreword – what’s new on Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise”

Looking at the topics of the by now more than 70 postings of this blog, most of them deal with questions of musical notation – accidentals, pitch or articulation and dynamics. This is of course not surprising, yet working with musical sources and producing correct and reliable music texts are central in our business. Continue reading

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A “new” Mozart work. On the c-minor “Fantasy” (K. 396/385f) in its original setting for violin and piano

In the year 1821 three distinguished personalities met in Weimar: Goethe, Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Mozart. Mozart, of course, not in person, but in the form of his original manuscript that Goethe owned at the time (and that he identified on page 2 as “Mozart.”): Continue reading

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Clarinet – Oboe – Horn. New chamber music by Carl Nielsen on the Henle agenda

Carl Nielsen (1865–1931) is probably best known as a prominent com­po­ser of symphonies. His very serious works, full of doubts of both the world and himself, also finally suggested his nickname ‘the Danish [Ri­chard] Strauss’. Henle publishers have set out to show the somewhat dif­fer­ent chamber-music side of this composer and are publishing short­ly three wind pieces from his early-to-middle creative period. Continue reading

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Best until… How long does an accidental last?

Today’s musicians tend to react to the above question with raised eye­brows. Isn’t it clear – accidentals in the key signature are always in force and for all octave registers unless annulled by natural signs. An ac­ci­den­tal found in a measure is valid for this note and for the entire measure – no longer, no shorter. But this was not always so.

For instance, there were other rules in Johann Sebastian Bach’s time. Key-signature accidentals were indeed used as they are now, though the accidental placed within a measure was valid only for this one note. If the same note was later repeated in the bar, then the accidental had to be given again in order to be further valid. Continue reading

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The accent question in Schubert: An old theme with new variations

Franz Schubert<br />(Source: Wikimedia.org, Licence: PD)

Franz Schubert
(Source: Wikimedia.org, Licence: PD)

Anyone working with Schubert’s autographs inevitably runs up sooner or later against the famous accent ques­tion: that is, more precisely, the question of whether the sign notated at this or that passage means an accent or a decrescendo hairpin. Although both signs in modern music notation are very clearly distinguished one from the other – an accent is placed directly above the note head, the hairpin below or above the stave –, they are closely related in origin. When in the expiring 18th cen­tu­ry the signs for getting louder or softer (cres­cendo and decrescendo hairpins) arose as alternatives or sub­sti­tutes for the written-out directives crescendo and de­cre­scen­do, the > sign evolved as an abbreviated de­cre­scen­do hairpin. The correlation becomes graphic for instance in Beethoven’s songs. Continue reading

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‘Servant of two masters’ – when the editor is caught between two composers

The basic idea behind an Urtext edition is well known; it is a composition edited in such a way that it corresponds to the composer’s will, ending up the ‘definitive version’ as a rule. Yet what about having to consider two wills und a ‘pair’ of definitive versions…? Continue reading

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Listeners are also only human

Observations on the necessity of body language in piano playing

Wilhelm Busch: "Der Virtuos", 1865 (Source: Wikimedia.org, Licence: PD)

Wilhelm Busch: "Der Virtuos", 1865 (Source: Wikimedia.org, Licence: PD)

For today, an altogether practical subject for those of us who play piano and are pianists: Perhaps it has still not gotten about every­where that piano playing appeals to the eye more than to the ear! Pianists have then a fair chance of winning competitions only if they re­in­force their playing with expressive body movements and facial expressions. A current, reportedly serious study proves it: That is to say, upon merely watching soundless (!) com­pe­tition shots, lay people as well as pro­fes­sio­nals chose the same (!) winners as the expert panel of judges at the same competition. In other words: the eye, not the ear pre­de­ter­mines solid piano playing. Or put another way: The jury, wearing earplugs, would also have nominated the same winner. Now that’s something to really make you think…. Continue reading

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