Composing made easy? On Erik Satie’s ‘Nocturnes’

It was not without good reason that the label ‘outsider’ stuck to Satie. As of his earliest compositions he was in search of alternatives to the tonal harmony that was still the unquestioned convention when he began his training at the Paris Conservatoire (1879–87). This search runs like a red thread through all of his works, and was certainly absolutely independent of the stylistic orientation of individual works, reaching indeed, as we know, from echoes of the medieval and exotic to the then popular cabaret music. Continue reading

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‘It is G! Bravo, and a thousand thanks.’ Günter Henle’s guestbook (and a wrong note in Beethoven)

The violinist Yehudi Menuhin was without question amongst Günter Henle’s closest artist friends. Henle’s autobiography Three Spheres. A Life in Politics, Business and Music contains numerous amusing descriptions of mutual experiences, of which Henle said that Menuhin was ‘on his instrument probably one the greatest masters ever to have lived’. When both were together specific music-text questions were often also involved. Continue reading

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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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