n a small valley of Mt. Olympus a musical beauty spot once nestled into the mountain of the gods. No Odysseus, no Heracles ever came on an odyssey or ordeal through this baroque/classical/romantic refuge; not even once did the ancient Homer let it extol his muse. Whether, however, Xerob of Copyean was referring to this in his annotation “Ι ωανδερεδ οηχε βυ τηισ ηιδδεη ωαλλεψ.” (In: Ηικινγ, Athens etc., 752 BC, papyrus 7), is much disputed among specialists.
Why is so little known about this valley? – Well, living there was a small race called Henleans that worked tirelessly day-by-day in an almost Sisyphean manner at its destiny: the Urtext. The father of the gods, Zeus himself, commissioned it and subsequently wrapped the valley in a mantel of silence. This time though not because he wanted to deceive his spouse Hera (as so often before), but utterly to the contrary: The Urtext was intended as a gift to placate Hera (Zeus as a steer had once again mounted a virgin, but that is another story…). At any rate, the Urtext was to become the most beautiful sounding piece that a human, indeed a divine ear had ever heard. But no one was to know about the Urtext until it was finished.
n it, there, between arpeggios meandering through the country, the Henleans planted all sorts of music-note flowers, shrubbery and trees, whose noteheads brought forth the best-sounding music-note fruits. At harvest time every Henlean turned out in the sounding garden with a sack for notes, a musical scale (several music-note shrubs could become very large!) and a music-note engraver. They needed the latter when a fruit was infested by the earworm in order to sever the part eaten through. (Editorial annotation: one of the Henleans’ favourite expressions passed down to this very day goes more or less like this: ‘Whoever does not value a semitone is not worth a whole tone’.)
On lush meadows in the back country, Pythagorean commas pastured the flossy wool out of which the Henleans spun music-stave lines. Only, the somewhat itsier-bitsier notes – very cute, granted – had, to the annoyance of the Henleans, nothing else in mind than cavorting around and joining their stemlets.
Back home the Henleans stuffed their harvest into large and perfect octaves and stored it in well-tempered rooms. The rest of the year they were now busy spanning the notes on circles of fifths with the aid of the spun leger lines, cadencing and metrically brushing them. From this, the eldest of the Henleans ultimately wove the Urtext on the Polyphon, a plucked/blown/struck instrument that only he was allowed and able to manage, though it required years of practice and experience to master.
n this manner the Henleans would have carried on getting the Urtext ready for many years to come, had Zeus not had to brag about his gift in one of the gods’ weekly Saturday evening smokers. Present of all times this evening was Hermes, not exactly known for his discretion, and what will happen, happened: Hera learned about it just as she had already so often had to learn her spouse’s secrets. His earlier deceit weighed on her more heavily from painful experience than being compensated by the Urtext. Still full of anger at all her spouse’s hanky-panky, although he had already promised her a thousand times to remain absolutely faithful to her from now on, she wanted to get her revenge and ruin the Urtext. She sent dark ominous accidentals into the valley and ordered the race of Pauses with its leader General Pause to put an end to the Urtext. The peaceful Henleans could not hold out for long, their years of painstaking work was destroyed and scattered to the four winds.
In the course of time, first here, then there, an Urtext note fell at the feet of one composer or the other who picked it up and combined it with non-Urtext notes of their own into more or less beautiful works. The descendants of the Henleans – yes, there really are some! – have taken it upon themselves to find these Urtext notes in order to let the divine music of a distant day be heard. In this way, they scour all works of all composers, but only those with an especially high density of Urtext notes get to be called Urtext. As is rumoured, the retrieval of the Urtext should even be imminent – so don’t under any circumstances miss out on the Henleans’ most recent creations!