Newly discovered 20th-century classics: Bartók’s six String Quartets in the Complete Edition

The Waldbauer-Kerpely-Quartet (standing) with Béla Bartók (sitting left) and Zoltán Kodály (sitting right); wikimedia commons

The Béla Bartók Complete Critical Edition that since 2017 the publisher G. Henle has been publishing jointly with the Hungarian Editio Musica Budapest, has produced an impressive seven volumes in its first five years. From the Works for Piano 1914–1920 to the large pedagogical cycles For Children and Mikrokosmos to a weighty volume of Choral Works and the famous Concerto for Orchestra, these volumes already cover the most diverse areas of Bartók’s oeuvre – though still lacking the chamber music. All the more fitting then that the volume with the String Quartets Nos. 1–6 should appear this spring and hence just in time for the string-quartet year at Henle. It was edited by none other than László Somfai – founder of the Complete Edition and the most profound authority on Bartók’s oeuvre – in collaboration with Zsombor Németh, a Bartók scholar of the younger generation. To mark the publication, the two have kindly granted us an interview. Continue reading

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Summer Break

As is usual every year, the Henle blog is taking a short summer break. But not to worry: exciting new blog posts will be awaiting you again as of 19 September 2022.

The day passes, it’s time for music …

Till then, we wish you a refreshing summer – and not least, gorgeous sunsets and delightful evening music.

Cordially yours,

G. Henle Verlag

 

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From the First to the Second Vienna School: 20th-century string quartets in the Henle catalogue

Henle is dedicating 2022 to a specific genre: under the motto “Henle4Strings” we would like to spotlight our diverse range of Urtext string-quartet editions that might otherwise get somewhat lost in our huge piano-music catalogue. Did you know, for example, that George Gershwin did not compose only for piano or stage, and that in our program we have a truly contemporary quartet composition from 2016…?

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Beethoven’s list of corrections – a rare source type

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

Located now and again amongst the sources for Beethoven’s compositions listed in the composer’s works’ thematic catalogue is a section on a rare but nonetheless informative type of source relevant for each edition: his lists of corrections or proofreading indications that are usually to be found in letters to publishing houses or mediators. A quick cursory skim. Continue reading

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An unknown Haydn quote by Brahms?

Here’s a situation familiar to music lovers: By chance you hear a music piece, usually on the radio, but you just can’t recall the composer. You’re getting more frustrated: this can’t be true, you can sing along with every note – and yet you simply can’t place the piece. That’s exactly what happened to me a few months ago, though as soon as I heard the simple duet accompanied by piano (on the car radio), I knew that something here “just couldn’t be quite right”. Although all too well I recognised the beautiful melody heard at the opening of the piece, but I had certainly never heard the piece itself before. So, the melody had to have come from another context – but from where, from where in the world? And who was the composer of the radio duet? Perhaps something by Mozart unknown to me (shame on me …)? Continue reading

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Johann Kuhnau, on the 300th anniversary of his death

Johann Kuhnau

This year, the revolving authors of our Henle editors’ blog are addressing composer anniversaries at regular intervals, alongside a host of exciting special topics. Just a fortnight ago, my colleague Peter Jost celebrated César Franck’s 200th birthday. Today I’m taking a big step back in music history and commemorating Johann Kuhnau (born 6 April 1660), who died 300 years ago yesterday. Milestone birthdays are generally easier to celebrate than death anniversaries. But yesterday’s 300th anniversary of Kuhnau’s death (5 June 1722) presents an optimal occasion for taking a closer look at this fascinating personality from the 17th/18th centuries. Continue reading

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Between two stools – a portrait of César Franck on his 200th birthday

César Franck (1822-1890)

César Franck, whose 200th birthday the music world is celebrating this year, has long split contemporaries and posterity over how to place him in terms of nationality and style. His great opponent and critic during his lifetime was Camille Saint-Saëns, of all people, whose jubilee was last year. And, indeed, in many respects the two were antithetical!

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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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