On 3 February 2016 – on the 117th birthday of Günter Henle, the founder of our publishing house – we launched the Henle Library App. A year later we are proud to announce that it has found its place in the musical world! Thousands of musicians regularly use it and are singing its praises, especially concerning one of the key features: the option of choosing from different fingerings by great musicians.
“Is it ok for Urtext editions to contain fingerings?” This is a question that has occupied our publishing house ever since it was founded in 1948. Günter Henle, an expert pianist himself, was convinced that only a “practical Urtext edition” could ever be successful. And as far as he was concerned, the addition of fingering was an absolute must (as was the addition of bowings for string instruments). And the numbers bear this out: even today, we still sell about ten times as many editions with fingerings of our standard piano works, for instance those by J. S. Bach, than without – we have had both versions in our catalogue for years. But still: this has been hotly debated for decades, in particular by professional musicians. This is completely understandable because fingerings and bowings are often extremely personal. They not only give the technical solution to a problem, which can be very different depending on the school you come from, but are, at the same time, an expression of artistic interpretation. “One for all and all for one!” is not something that can be realised on paper. This has occasioned many musicians to come up with extravagant solutions, including one by Yehudi Menuhin.
However, this wish can be fulfilled using the digital medium in a unique way:
You’d like to add your own fingerings and not be distracted by anyone else’s? Just select “No fingerings”, add a new layer and off you go:
You can either add them using the pen feature in the app or by selecting the appropriate symbol in the Henle font palette.
But maybe you’ll find David Geringas’ markings so appealing that you only want to change one or two. This is also not a problem: just choose Geringas’ markings, add a new layer and then start making your changes:
Each individual fingering by Geringas can be deleted (as shown by the blue cross) and you can add your own anywhere you choose. Everything is saved automatically in the cloud, at the latest the next time you go online. And should you want to share your suggestions with other musicians who also use the app, this is not a problem: just tap on the share button:
We are now taking further steps so that we can provide you with the most interesting markings possible, thus enabling you to compare suggestions by different musicians. First of all we are looking around for historical editions of a work. In the past, famous artists often gave their stamp of approval to an edition that contained their fingerings and bowings. Leonard Rose and Janos Starker are two such examples for the violoncello, Leopold Auer and Carl Flesch for the violin and Eugen d’Albert for the piano.
But of course, we would also like to offer you something new. So we are looking for musicians’ estates in the hope that they might contain such treasures. We have found some treasures in the Library of Congress amongst other places: in Henryk Szeryng’s estate we discovered beautifully crafted fingerings for Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas. They are now available exclusively in our app. The same applies to Wanda Landowska’s fingerings for J. S. Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias. We also found these in Washington in the estate of this great musician and they, too, have now been published exclusively in our app.
Artists associated with our publishing house are very excited about the app and this has also led to quite a number of them providing contributions: Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt have added fingerings and bowing for Brahms’ Violin Sonatas – at the same time their wonderful recording was released in August 2016 by the label Ondine.
Tianwa Yang, who caused a stir at the end of last year due to her new recording of Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole for Naxos, has allowed us to incorporate her fingerings and bowings in our app (and more are soon to follow!).
Nils Mönkemeyer, who released a wonderful CD together with the pianist William Youn of Johannes Brahms’ two Viola Sonatas for Sony in 2015, also provided us with his fingerings and bowings for our Henle Library App.
On the occasion of the 1st birthday of our app, we are now proudly setting off a small display of new fingering and bowing fireworks – both by historic and current performers. In the coming week we will be releasing a few delights for you to sample, and at reduced prices in this time:
1. Fingerings for all of the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonatas by none other than Camille Saint-Saëns and Béla Bartók.
2. Henryk Szeryng’s fingerings and bowings for Johannes Brahms’ Violin Sonatas, the first time they have ever been published and only in our app.
3. Johannes Brahms’ Viola Sonatas with fingerings and bowings by Nobuko Imai, for the first time ever and only available in our app!
4. Frédéric Chopin’s Ballades with new fingerings – done exclusively for us – by Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy.
5. Fingerings and bowings by the legendary violinists Ricardo Ricci and Ivan Galamian for Nicolò Paganini’s Capricci.
Happy Birthday, Henle Library App!