The music world will sit up and take notice! On the new Urtext edition of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Major KV 331

You presumably know Mozart’s A-major Piano Sonata KV 331 (with the “alla turca” rondo). One of the best-known sonatas, if not THE best-known, of the entire piano repertoire. And yet it is the bitter truth that to this day we all play this famous sonata incorrectly, not in any event like Mozart wanted it. How so? Up to now there has been no single error-free music edition of this famous piece. The 19th century had garbled the sonata almost beyond recognition: Urtext editions of the 20th century (even ours so far) have essentially had to make use of the first edition (“opus 6” in the Artaria publishing house, Vienna, 1784) as the best available basis for the text because Mozart’s autograph (up to the last page of the “alla turca”) was lost. Continue reading

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Is it OK to add them? – The “missing” low notes in Beethoven’s piano sonatas

Here’s a topic that pianists have been discussing since the 19th century: Is it OK to change the music text in Beethoven’s piano sonatas (and, of course, anywhere else, too) and extend the pitch range downward at several spots in the left hand? Because even though to some extent keys for the low pitches E1 to C1 were in fact available on English pianos from ca. 1800, they were clearly first “used” in Beethoven’s piano sonatas, however, only later. Up until the piano sonata op. 101, composed between 1815 and the start of 1817, Beethoven faithfully respected the limitation of the pitch-range down to F1 – his music was after all supposed to be playable on a “normal” piano. Continue reading

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About the difficulties of notating ornamentation – The riddle of a neighbouring trill tone in Chopin’s Berceuse

J.S. Bach, table of ornamentation (see below)

The topic “ornamentation” in music is truly endless. We have to do with a phenomenon that takes place on the border between notation and performance. Ornaments are in the truest sense of the word a “decoration” that the performer adds to the written-out or printed music text. Ornaments were therefore mostly not notated at all in earlier music. Performance tradition taught the interpreter at what spots he or she could fit in whichever embellishments. For instance, the flautist Rachel Brown impressively shows in our edition of the 12 Fantasias by Georg Philipp Telemann (HN 556, scroll to page six to discover the English notes on performance practice), what can be made of the music text, indeed, what must be performed to be stylistically correct. Thus at its core ornamentation always has to do with improvisation. Continue reading

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An amusing story and a serious problem – On Mendelssohn’s first concert piece for clarinet, basset horn and piano

For composers, commissions or dedications of works could pay off, most of the time in cash or valuables – we think of the snuffboxes popular in the 18th century –, on occasion also in positions or annual pensions. On the other hand, composing a music piece in return for preparing a meal would, however, be very unusual. But the maxim a “favourite dish for a favourite piece of music” does in fact apply to the genesis of Mendelssohn’s Concert Piece in F Minor Op. 113 (MWV Q 23) for clarinet, basset horn and piano. Continue reading

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On a terribly wrong dynamic marking in the first movement of K. 499

In my last blog posting I reported on my current, exciting editorial work on Mozart’s string quartets. It was about a small, but yet audible correction of a “mfp” in the cello solo of the slow movement of the second “Prussian” String Quartet K. 589. To my way of thinking, all the editions misrepresent this spot. Today’s brief posting augments this: It’s about the start of the development in the first movement of the so-called “Hoffmeister” Quartet K. 499. This spot makes still more blatantly clear why to date Mozart’s string quartets are not yet available in the best possible music edition. Continue reading

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The melancholy horn – a short excursion into the monumental realm of Russian music

The repertoire of the G. Henle publishing house is traditionally very German-/Austrian-oriented – from Bach and Handel via Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven to Schumann, Brahms and Berg. Yet for us, 2015 is dominated by Russian music.… Continue reading

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Better late than never: Leoš Janáček at Henle publishers

Leoš Janáček

It is always a special moment whenever a new name joins the series of composers in our Urtext catalogue – and this is especially so in the current instance, because with the wind suite Mládí by Leoš Janáček (1854–1928), the 20th century in the area of Czech music also arrives at Henle publishers. That the publishing house can first bring this about in its 6th decade after founding is incidentally also fitting: it was, namely, just in this decade of Janáček’s life that he was most productive owing to private, professional and political reasons. Continue reading

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Sensational new source: a previously unknown Carnivalssong by Beethoven!

The new series PianoPlus is an ideal entry and re-access to the world of classical music, and likewise for all carnival enthusiasts and carnival grouches, who would like to make music with others.
As a sensational new source proves, Ludwig van Beethoven was – one can hardly believe – of a foolish nature and not at all averse to merry making and carnival. Continue reading

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Beethoven’s “Unfinished” (compositions)

Ludwig van Beethoven is one of those composers among the great masters who left behind a very large quantity of sketch material. We can hardly tell how many leaves are extant, because not all of them are publicly accessible. My personal estimate would be about 5000 leaves. This material contains a magnificent stock of sketches for known works, but also much that is unknown. Continue reading

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Scarlatti Sonatas, Volume IV – the ultimate choice

Domenico Scarlatti

Though Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) was indeed born the same year as Bach and Handel, he occupies an exceptional position amongst Baroque composers. Playing his harpsichord music is a seemingly carefree joy: virtuosic, sensuous in sound and so not at all cerebral. Continue reading

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