Brahms’s ‘Hungarian Dances’ – new finds in old sources

In 2011 the Brahms researcher Michael Struck made a striking discovery – in a book published already 100 years ago… Continue reading

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How much verbal text can music tolerate?

A serious scholarly book publication can be recognized by the footnotes – and in a way this also applies to musical Urtext editions, because here too it is imperative to base the printed music text on appropriate evidence. Where and how this is done depends though on many parameters – amongst other things, on the question of how much verbal text the music or the practicing musician will put up with. Continue reading

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‘Silent Night’ revisited

A blog entry on 24 December – how could it not have Christmas associations? Not even a Henle editor would have it otherwise. Should there really be a blog post on problems in Urtext editions on a date so emotionally charged? That does not seem quite in line to me. Yet, perhaps even in Christmas music undreamt-of Urtext questions might be napping, so that the two could be combined elegantly one with the other? Let’s give it a try in the following. Continue reading

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Gong, tamtam or cymbal crash? – Gershwin’s ‘Concerto in F’ as work in progress

You know George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto and the famous place just before closing, where a percussion instrument introduces the climax of the piece with a loud ‘bang’? You don’t? Then, as an introduction here comes first of all an excerpt from the film ‘An American in Paris’ of 1951, in which Oscar Levant Continue reading

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A manuscript conundrum – the autograph of Gabriel Fauré’s violin sonata, Op. 13

Autograph manuscripts of musical works have an aura all their own that is hard to resist: They fascinate, on the one hand, by portraying a composer’s characteristic handwriting (cf. fig. 1); on the other, they give us immediate access to the composer’s workshop so long as they’re not just fair copies, but working manuscripts with corrections, deletions and additions. Continue reading

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Piano Trio Question: Why really are pianists ‘allowed’ to play from the score, but not string players? And since when?

Notice: There’s a prize question at the end of this piece. You’re cordially invited to participate!

The music edition of a piano trio comprises in principle, as is generally known, a piano score with two solo parts (violin and cello) enclosed. It is only the pianist who plays from the score consisting of a grand stave for piano in large print with string parts placed above in small print, violin part on top, cello part below. That’s so far nothing new. But what many musicians don’t know is that this particular score format for today’s piano-trio music is an invention (and standardisation) of the 19th century. In the original tradition up to Beethoven’s time composers were neither acquainted with the piano score nor was there a single method of notation. Continue reading

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Setting, version, arrangement – how far may Urtext go?

It is part and parcel of the idea of a musical Urtext that the original intentions of the composer be respected also on the level of the instrumental setting. So, coming from Henle publishers will not be any Bach inventions for guitar, Schumann lieder for viola and piano or Chopin’s funeral march for trombone quartet. Continue reading

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What’s the shelf life of Urtext? Revising at Henle publishers

When you look carefully at our recent publications you’ll also repeatedly notice among them works that we once published and are now putting out in new Urtext editions – indicated explicitly as “revised”. But what is actually meant by revision and why is it necessary? Come to think of it, the old edition was and is after all already supposed to contain the Urtext – or do Urtext editions have an expiry date? Continue reading

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Too much access! – Isaac Albéniz revises his Iberia cycle

Editors of sheet music are not alone in suffering from the problem of bringing a project to an end at some point – composers, too, were and are regularly confronted with it. Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, for instance, is notorious for having still continued composing in the galley proofs of the engraving plates during publication of his works. Continue reading

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Scriabin plays Scriabin – Is the finale of the 3rd piano sonata too difficult?

Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915) was not only one of the outstanding composers in Russia around 1900. Time and again he also appeared publicly as pianist – especially as interpreter of his own works. His compositions are at present among the standard items in the concert repertoire, but today we can also still get an idea of his piano playing. Continue reading

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