“An expression of his deeply shaken soul” – Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s String Quartet in F minor on the 175th anniversary of his death

Mendelssohn on his deathbed, drawing by Wilhelm Hensel
Bodleian Library MS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn b. 1 (CC-BY-NC 4.0)

Our Henle blog this year has largely dealt with two themes: we’ve focused, first of all, on the string-quartet genre under the motto “Henle4Strings”; then alongside this, we’ve commemorated several anniversaries of great composers or of great works (composers such as Scriabin, Brahms, Franck, Kuhnau, and Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier). As the end of the year approaches, these two strands come together in the best contrapuntal manner: today’s blog post is dedicated to the 175th anniversary of the death of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who died on 4 November 1847 but was able shortly beforehand to finalise his last significant work – the F-minor string quartet op. post. 80. Continue reading

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If that’s not reason enough to celebrate: 300 years of WTC I!

Title page of the WTC I autograph (D-B Mus.ms. Bach P 415)

2022 seems to be particularly rich in musical anniversaries: Even if for obvious reasons we let the notable birthdays of a John Williams or Elton John pass uncelebrated in this forum, the palette of our tributes this year already ranges from Kuhnau through Brahms and Franck to Alexander Scriabin. No doubt about it, all these composers have left a legacy of weighty works and occupy central positions in the Henle catalogue. But the jubilarian of today’s blog post puts them all in the shade: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Part I! This collection of 24 preludes and fugues, recorded by Bach in 1722 in an accurate fair copy with an elaborate title page, stating “…for the use and benefit of inquisitive young musicians…and of those already well-versed in this study…”, accompanies practically everyone who has ever approached the piano for 300 years now. And, its history is just as eventful – also in the Henle publishing house, where it has now engaged us for over 70 years. Continue reading

Posted in András Schiff, autograph, Bach, Johann Sebastian, Monday Postings, piano solo, Well-Tempered Clavier (J.S. Bach) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An annoying mini-error in Mozart’s Violin Concerto K. 219

Recently, David Perry, a Canadian violinist, criticised what he considered to be a wrong appoggiatura note in my Urtext edition of the Mozart A-major Violin Concerto K. 219, concerning measure 69 in the first movement. In Mozart’s autograph there seems to be no doubt about the appoggiatura note a2 to the main note d3:

Mozart, Autograph, Violin Concerto in A major, K. 219, mm. 68/69 Washington, Library of Congress, online-scan: Image 15/101

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Posted in autograph, Monday Postings, Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, notation, revision, violin + orchestra | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Unexpected, showing up often! Discoveries in Liszt’s revisions

Franz Liszt

The chances of sources being rediscovered or becoming newly accessible seem rather slim for composers served by modern thematic-bibliographical works’ catalogues – rather confirming the rule are such exceptions as the autograph sections of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A major K. 331 discovered a few years ago (see Henle blog: The music world will sit up and take notice! On the new Urtext edition of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Major KV 331 | Henle Blog). The situation in the case of a composer like Liszt is, however, quite different. Here, where existing is neither such a catalogue of the works nor even a comprehensive and reliable complete edition of the letters, an editor must personally go to great lengths in searching out information on the genesis and publication of a specific work. Continue reading

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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

Posted in autograph, Bartók, Béla, Juilliard Quartet, Monday Postings, recording, string quartet | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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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Posted in Berg, Alban, Gershwin, George, Monday Postings, Schoenberg, Arnold, string quartet, Zemlinsky, Alexander | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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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