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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The lord of the low tones – Tobias Glöckler in conversation about Dragonetti’s “Famous Solo”

Tobias Glöckler

Tobias Glöckler

The double bass entered the Henle publishers’ catalogue a few years ago by way of the Dresden double bassist Tobias Glöck­ler. Entirely classically, to begin with, through the concertos by Hoffmeister and Dittersdorf, but soon also joined by some­what exotic titles such as the Twelve Waltzes by Dragonetti for Double Bass or the famous Elephant from Saint-Saëns’ Car­ni­val of the Animals. “The Famous Solo” by Domenico Dra­go­net­ti, most recently published in the version for doub­le bass and string quartet, now even presents a first edition of a doub­le bass work in our publishing-house programme. Here you can read how it came about… Continue reading

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The sounding gardens of the Henleans – a short Urtext saga


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. Continue reading

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Deluxe for the continuo group

What music do continuo players play from?

This question might at first appear trivial. Presumably every pianist nowadays has al­ready once accompanied baroque chamber music from a basso-continuo part. In the G. Henle Verlag – and not only at our publishing house – this part is basically a stave for the left hand. It contains the bass part, mostly with numbers indicating which chords are to be played by the right hand in each case. Continue reading

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