A forgery? And if so, by whom? On the closing bars in Mozart’s Wind Quintet K. 452

The autograph of Mozart’s piano quintet for piano and four winds K. 452 harboured a secret for more than 200 long years. I could first reveal it as part of my Urtext edition (HN 665 and HN 9665) in the year 2000. Continue reading

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High time for the low register – the double bass conquers the Henle catalogue

The strings, together with the main instrument, piano, have all along played a large role in the Henle catalogue. As early as amongst the house’s first publications from the 1940s, standard string-repertoire works can be found with Beethoven’s cello variations and violin sonatas (HN 5 and 7/8, both of course meanwhile revised according to the text of the New Beethoven Complete Edition); in the last six decades this repertoire has been systematically extended from Bach to Berg (as, incidentally, can also be gathered from our 13 video Interviews with 13 internationally renowned violinists on 13 great violin works). The double bass, on the other hand, first came to Henle with the new millennium, and for that there are many reasons … Continue reading

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Ossia and Da Capo – Confusion in Schumann’s Papillons, Op. 2

Sometimes a conundrum can’t be solved, even when the source situation makes abundant material available to the editor of an Urtext edition. This, for instance, is the case with Robert Schumann’s Papillons, Op. 2, for which the ‘definitive version’ can hardly likely be determined. Continue reading

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Filched Melodies – Sarasate’s ‘Zigeunerweisen’ (Gypsy Airs) under suspicion of plagiarism

The use of folk-music elements in art music has, as is well known, a long tradition reaching back to the late Middle Ages. In the 2nd half of the 19th century this practice obtained new qualitative significance against the background of rising nationalism. If it served so many composers as a demonstration of their rootedness in their homelands, and at the same time as a self-confident counterweight to the dominance of German-Austrian music at that time – we think, for instance, of Edvard Grieg or Antonín Dvořák –, then other musicians paraded with great success the exotic charm of foreign sounds.

Benefitting like hardly anyone else from the fashion for such national idioms was the violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908), who in his own compositions borrowed from the folk music of numerous European countries and regions. Continue reading

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“Liebestod” revisited – yet more problems in Franz Liszt’s transcription of Wagner

Some time ago we had previously devoted a blog post to our new Urtext edition of Liszt’s piano transcription Isolde’s Liebestod (HN 558) in order to consider the various readings of the sources (see Wagner, Liszt, and Isolde ‘slurred’ – how well do composers proofread their own works?). Today, we’re going to re-examine the piece closely, for it has much to offer not only pianists, but also philologists… Continue reading

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Schubert deletes, Brahms restores. On the first of the three posthumous piano pieces (Impromptus) D 946 by Franz Schubert

Schubert did not live to see the publication of his three impromptus composed in May 1828. They were not printed until 40 years later (!), and it was no less a person than Johannes Brahms who edited these piano pieces beloved by pianists and audiences down to the present day. Continue reading

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“Adelaide” – a song goes round the world

The German art song does indeed famously enjoy great popularity, and not only where the German language is spoken. And so, time and again, where there are lied editions with German texts, the question is whether to include a translation of the poem for the international market, or even when possible to underlay the song text in other languages. That such considerations did not come up only with the “global trading” of our time, but that publishers of 200 years ago were already worrying about it, can be seen in the example of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Adelaide. Continue reading

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“una corda” – “con sord.” – “mit Verschiebung”: How do I ‘mute’ my piano?

Many piano students are not going to believe their eyes when they read the indication una corda (= one string) in their music:

 

 

 

 

You’d think that you were back in the period of John Cage and his prepared piano. Because how in the world is a player supposed to choose one string amongst the 1–3 strings activated by each key and get it to sound? Continue reading

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Climax, more or less – e flat or e in Islamey?

Mily Balakirev’s showpiece Islamey, already certified, so to speak, as unplayable by the dedicatee Nikolai Rubinstein, is also still today amongst piano virtuosi’s most brilliant warhorses. The two central melodies – sparking around them here is an almost mechanically effective fireworks display with its ever-present note repetitions – derive from the folk music of the Circassians and Crimean Tartars. And so the whole piece makes a relatively ‘exotic’ impression on classically trained ears. Continue reading

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Correction or interpretation? – Johannes and Clara alter Robert’s music

Anyone practicing Robert Schumann’s In der Nacht, the fifth number in the Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, from the Henle edition (HN 91 or the anthology HN 922), will come across footnotes to two passages in the music text that refer to comments in the critical report. Continue reading

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