Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) on his 150th birthday, part II

Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915)

As announced in my last blog post, the collected volume of the Etudes op. 8 by Alexander Scriabin has meantime been published – our birthday present for Alexander Scriabin. It contains all twelve etudes, plus a second version of the most famous, No. XII, in the appendix. But more on that later. First, I would like to answer the question with which my last blog post concluded: How is it that the thunderous conclusion of the last etude, with its heaven-storming ascent over the entire keyboard, is notated completely differently in the extant autograph? Continue reading

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A Milestone in Music History: Schoenberg’s 2nd String Quartet op. 10

Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951), photo ca. 1908

Arnold Schoenberg, in his letter thanking well-wishers on his 75th birthday in September 1949, said that he had come to terms with the fact that he could no longer count on a full understanding of his work during his lifetime, captioning his statements, partly painfully bitter, partly self-assuredly proud, with the headlining set phrase ‘To gain recognition only after one’s death –– !’. As we know today, the composer’s prophecy came true relatively soon after his death in 1951. Since the 1970s at the latest, he has been undisputedly regarded as one of the most relevant composers in the first half of the 20th century – even though the number of performances of his music still does not keep pace with this worldwide recognition.

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An ambiguous passage in Brahms’s Vier ernste Gesänge op. 121

A guest contribution by Johannes Behr from the Johannes Brahms Complete Edition, Kiel.

Johannes Brahms, photograph taken in June 1896
(Brahms-Institut at the Musikhochschule Lübeck)

Johannes Brahms died on 3 April 1897, 125 years ago. About three quarters of a year earlier, increasingly weighed down by his fatal illness, he had finally laid down his composer’s pen. In May and June 1896, he had still been working out altogether eleven chorale preludes for organ. At that time, he wrote to Eusebius Mandyczewski that he was practicing ‘penitence and rue with small trifles’ – thus conveying an example of how flippantly he expressed himself about his own music, the more seriously, indeed, that he took it. It was not until 1902 that this collection from his estate, wafting the special aura of the ‘final work’, was published as Opus 122. The eleven chorale preludes have already appeared in both the New Brahms Complete Edition (Series IV) and in an Urtext edition based on it (HN 1368). Continue reading

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Four parts, many questions: on the editing of string quartets

Well-disposed visitors to our various digital platforms already know that under the motto “Henle4Strings” the focus in 2022 is on the string quartet. So it’s also high time for our blog to start dealing with this topic, especially since – apart from regular reports on the progress of the major Mozart string-quartets project – the genre has not really been properly elucidated here.

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The Henle Library app – our next big milestone

Our app is six years old, and we can finally announce that all the works in our Urtext catalogue are now available in the Henle Library app! Continue reading

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Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915) on his 150th birthday, part I

Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915)

I admit that while typing the heading of this blog post, I had to take a quick look to make sure: Scriabin is just 150 years old? But it’s true. Hence, the Russian pianist and composer is only 2 years older than, for example, Arnold Schoenberg. Although I’m fully aware that Scriabin’s later compositions went beyond the boundaries of tonality, I would instinctively have placed him much further back in the 19th century than the founder of the 12-tone method.  But here this post is not supposed to be about a comparison. My astonishment at his late date of birth serves as a good starting point for briefly reviewing the Scriabin editions previously published by G. Henle publishers and the change in style in the Russian composer’s music. Scriabin – a romantic or a “modern”? Continue reading

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“Latest news about Mozart’s piano sonata in A major, K. 331”

W. A. Mozart (1756–1791)

“All good things come in threes” – this phrase came to mind as I sat down to address the following text, having already posted twice on the Henle blog about Mozart’s famous “Alla Turca” piano sonata in A major: Post number 1 dealt with the sensational Budapest discovery of the Mozart sonata’s part-autograph and its editorial consequences ultimately leading to our new, revised edition. Post number 2 unravelled for the first time the previously misinterpreted “repeat” instructions on Mozart’s last autograph page of the “Rondo Alla Turca”. And now number 3: Turning up in the meantime has been a copyist’s copy from Mozart’s time (!), so far completely unknown.

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A concerto for a “trombone god” – finally, Ferdinand David’s Concertino op. 4 in Henle Urtext

Ferdinand David (1810–1873). Lithograph by J. G. Weinhold, Leipzig, 1846

The trombone is an instrument with a venerable though also chequered history. After its first great heyday in the Renaissance and early Baroque, it long led a niche existence in the late 17th and 18th centuries. We owe to Beethoven its “reintegration” into the symphony orchestra, where it has since become indispensable (see our relevant blog post for the 2020 Beethoven year). As a veritable solo instrument, the trombone really came into its own only in the 20th century – its diverse timbres and playing techniques were prized above all in jazz (here is a small sample of the legendary J. J. Johnson). Continue reading

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Christmas Blog Post

The Covid pandemic is, alas, still controlling large portions of the world, which means that the Advent and Christmas season is once again being marred by the many cancelled concerts. We keep our fingers crossed that by spring 2022 we shall be seeing a recovery, especially for those working in the arts and culture. Continue reading

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Schumann’s metronome markings in his “Kinderszenen”. Opportunity, not nuisance.

“You cannot define tempo. Tempo has no existence of its own, so it can be neither wrong nor right. What the world has not yet understood: tempo has nothing to do with speed […]. There is no singular tempo that you can take from Berlin to London […]. Metronome marking ‘92’. What is 92? […] It is idiocy! Every concert hall, every piece, every movement has its own absolute tempo, defining exactly this situation – and no other.” 

(From Stenographische Umarmung. Sergiu Celibidache beim Wort genommen, Con Brio Verlag 2002). Continue reading

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