Introduction: Denis Herlin
Facsimile of the autograph, hardcover
Pages: 40 (XXII, 18), Size 27,5 x 37,5 cm
Order no. HN 3224 · ISMN 979-0-2018-3224-1
Level of difficulty (Piano): difficult (Level 7/8)
This colourful, highly virtuosic piano piece is often associated with the island of Jersey, where Debussy secretly spent the summer of 1904 with his new love Emma Bardac. Even if he wrote the autograph during this time, it has been ascertained that the work was composed at an earlier date and was intended as part of the "Suite bergamasque". During his stay on the island, Debussy revised the composition, giving the "Isle joyeuse" its present-day form. We are publishing the manuscript as a valuable facsimile edition to mark Debussy’s anniversary year 2012. In brilliant multicolour printing and with an extensive commentary, it meets the highest aesthetic and scholarly demands.
L'éditeur allemand publie un fac-similé du manuscrit autographe de l'Isle joyeuse. Un heureux événement. ... Le superbe travail de présentation de Henle a été supervisé par Denis Herlin. Il a été poussé si loin que sont décrites, par exemple, les principales modifications entre le manuscrit et l'édition de 1904. L'éditeur est même allé jusqu'à insérer des reproductions de gravures de Turner et Watteau!
Allein schon die lesenswerte Einleitung von Denis Herlin zu der Geschichte und die wissenschaftliche Betrachtung des Werks macht diese Ausgabe zu etwas Besonderem.
The levels of difficulty of the
piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
The levels of difficulty of the piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
|1||easy||Bach, Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, nos. 4 and 5|
|2||Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier I, no. 1 Prelude C major|
|3||Beethoven, Piano Sonatas op. 49,1 and 2|
|4||medium||Grieg, Lyric Pieces op. 12, no. 4|
|5||Schumann, Fantasy Pieces op. 12, no. 1|
|6||Chopin, Nocturnes op. 27, nos. 1 and 2|
|7||difficult||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3|
|8||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 81a|
|9||Schumann, Toccata op. 7|
Guide to the levels of difficulty
"I don't know what 'difficult' means. Either you can play or you can't" – this was the rather terse comment by the great violinist Nathan Milstein, on being asked about the unbelievable difficulty of Niccolo Paganini's Caprice no. 1.
The relativity of the evaluation of difficulty in music immediately becomes clear. Yet I gladly take up this great challenge, presented to me by G. Henle Publishers. For I am aware of how useful a guide like this can be, both from my own experience as well as that of many colleagues. In particular so as to be able to identify "appropriate" works. For example for music teachers, who teach at very different levels, from beginners to those preparing for music conservatories, but also for all those interested amateurs for whom this guide is intended.
After careful deliberation I have settled on nine levels of difficulty, which I have divided into three groups: 1–3 (easy), 4–6 (medium), 7–9 (difficult). A number of parameters have been considered when assessing the level of difficulty. I have not just looked at the number of fast or slow notes to be played, or the chord sequences; of central importance are also the complexity of the piece's composition, its rhythmic complexities, the difficulty of reading the text for the first time, and last but not least, how easy or difficult it is to understand its musical structure. I have defined "piece" as being the musical unit of a sonata, or a single piece in a cycle, which is why Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Part I comprises a total of 48 levels of difficulty (each prelude and fugue is considered separately), Schumann's Sonata in f sharp minor op.11 only has a single number. My assessment is measured by the ability to prepare a piece for performance.
While assessing the pieces, it became clear that the medium level of difficulty (4–6) is the trickiest. Now and again this means that a piece is judged as a "3/4", even if it only deserved a "3" as far as piano technique is concerned. An example of such a "borderline" case (easy/medium) is Schumann's "Scenes from Childhood" op. 15 Von fremden Ländern und Menschen or at the other end "6/7" part of Bach's "English Suites". And of course within a main category there are also "from-to" evaluations (e.g. 7/8).
Any evaluation of art or music will always be subjective, even if the aim was to be objective. Despite the fact that I have endeavoured to be as careful as possible, I am all too aware that the results of my work can be called into question, and am therefore grateful for any suggestions you might have.
Prof. Rolf Koenen © 2010