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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Commenting on a decisecond Bach – B or B flat in the B-flat major ‘Corrente’ BWV 825

A short time ago our attention was drawn to a supposed error in our Urtext edition HN 28 of the ‘Six Partitas’ by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 825-830): it was maintained that in the Corrente of the first Partita in B-flat major the last left-hand note in bar 12 erroneously has a ♮. Continue reading

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Totally, seriously – clearing it out is part of it!

Any of you who not only had a hearty laugh at our April Fools’ joke about Henle’s cleaned-up part, but also may even once have already had a go at a Reger sonata, will know that in the case of Max Reger – as with so many other late romantic composers – clearing out or cleaning up is in fact no joke at all. The extravagantly diverse ways that in scores at the start of the 20th century tempo, dynamics, articulation and expression were specified down to the last detail absolutely buried the music at times under the markings and were hardly consistent with any directive that a so-called practical Urtext edition ought then to present a music text more or less easy (and quick!) for the musician to read. Continue reading

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