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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An Urtext edition of Elgar’s Violin Chansons: What does an editor do when there is nothing to edit?

The question posed in the title of my blog post today is deliberately paradoxical and provocative. Something must indeed have been edited, for otherwise this wonderful new Urtext edition wouldn’t be in the G. Henle Verlag’s catalogue. But here we are actually dealing with a special philological case that is at first glance unproblematic, yes, I might almost even say: seemingly relieving – but on closer inspection turning out to be rather discomfiting. Continue reading

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Refinement or oversight? On two passages in Fauré’s 1st Piano Quartet op. 15

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)

Fauré is known for his refined tonal language, with the crucial parameters of melody, rhythm and harmony appearing extremely nuanced in his compositions. Avoided, conversely, are garish effects, and contrasts are variously shaded. This often leads to subtle defamiliarization even culminating in ambivalence, especially in the case of harmony, alternating amongst diatonicism, chromaticism and modal reminiscences. Continue reading

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Excess and empty space: Text variants in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto op. 104

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)

Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto op. 104 may be a special challenge for cellists, but for the editor of an Urtext edition it is a real nightmare. Not only – as so often with Dvořák – are there numerous differences between the score and first edition that are difficult to resolve. No, also showing up time and again even within the individual sources, especially in the solo part, are discrepancies and ambiguities, be they owing to multiple overwritings in the autograph or small dynamic and articulation variants between the individual printed part and the score or piano reduction. The engraver’s model for the first edition, which Dvořák himself wrote out in the autumn of 1895, would indeed be very helpful – but it is unfortunately lost. Appearing in New York a few years ago was an early copy of a separate solo part, apparently from Dvořák’s immediate milieu, that surprises in some places with precisely counted “blank measures”. Continue reading

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Dvořák’s “Gran Partita”? On the presumed model of his Wind Serenade in d minor op. 44

In my last blog post I already reported on our recently published new edition of Antonín Dvořák’s Wind Serenade op. 44 (HN 1234), focussing primarily on interesting information about several scoring details provided by autograph sources and contemporary concert accounts. But why, in the first place, did Dvořák opt for such an unusual ensemble as 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons plus contrabassoon, 3(!) horns as well as cello and double bass?  For in 1878, the year of its composition, the heyday of large-scale wind music was long past, and even though Bohemia, in particular, had made countless contributions to this repertoire through such composers as Krommer, Mysliveček, Vanhal, Družecký, Neubauer, Fiala, Dušek, and many others, it is not likely that Dvořák was acquainted with these works or had ever heard them. Continue reading

Posted in Brahms, Johannes, Dvořák, Antonín, genesis, Monday Postings, Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, Wind Serenade op. 44 (Dvořák), winds | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Ignaz Pleyel – no newcomer to the Henle catalogue

It’s one of the curious twists and turns in music history that the composer Ignaz Pleyel, so extremely famous and popular at the turn of the 19th century, is no longer at home today on concert stages around the world – his music is practically not part of the repertoire anymore. Conversely, we do, though, occasionally hear it in the city centre performed by street musicians, for it seems particularly appealing, sometimes even sprightly, and thus fills the purse as it did back then. Reason enough to deal more intensively with Pleyel in our Urtext series “Easy Repertoire”. Continue reading

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G sharp or G? About a bass trill in Schubert’s A-flat-major Impromptu D 935, No. 2

Franz Schubert‘s piano music is almost an infinitely magical wonderland. As is well known, he can modulate amazingly to the most harmonically remote regions within a minimum amount of space – and back again. So also in the much-played Impromptu in A-flat major D 935, No. 2. Its middle section in D-flat major has always been one of my absolute favourite Schubert passages. A pleasurable shiver runs down my spine every time the gentle triplet section begins with its hidden melody: Continue reading

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Summer Break

Summer is vacation time and our blog is also taking a short break. Camping with our Henle bus at home in our own country is trendy this year. So, let’s get going! Our authors are already coming up with exciting new topics for future blogposts. Look forward now to the new blogposts starting on 13 September 2021!


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