Michael Korstick Interview: Beethoven as the fixed star of my musical universe

Michael Korstick

From time to time during the Beethoven year the team of Henle blog posters would like to interview artists who have made a special contribution to Beethoven’s work and are also closely affiliated with the Henle publishing house and its Urtext editions. We are starting with Michael Korstick who recorded Beethoven’s piano works in 11 instalments for Oehms Classic in 1997–2008, including all 32 piano sonatas, the great variation sets opp. 34, 35, 120, the late bagatelles op. 126, together with the ‘Wut über den verlorenen Groschen [Rage over the lost penny]’. A truly impressive recording compendium that set new standards of interpreting Beethoven. Continue reading

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Beethoven meets Mozart. The genesis of Beethoven’s Mozart Variations WoO 40 according to Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s memoirs (first published)

The anecdote related here is, to be sure, purely fictitious, though it may well have more or less happened this way; see also the documentation in the footnotes.[i]

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)

When the sixteen-year-old Ludwig Beethoven visited us in the middle of February 1787, Master Mozart was indulging in his fond memories of Prague. Only a short time before he had returned[ii] to us in Vienna, telling us enthusiastically about his visit to the Bohemian capital. He would have been exuberantly celebrated and carried around on their hands. Master Mozart really raved about “his Prague people” who “understood” him.[iii] Even before his trip to Prague, the countess Thun[iv] had gone on and on to him about a certain “Ludwig Beethoven from Bonn”, that he “must” hear him at the piano. He was supposed to be a “divine miracle” (well, that we already know…). This Ludwig would soon be coming here to Vienna without his parents, especially to see him, Mozart. This Ludwig is so in love with his music and is utterly longing for lessons with him. Continue reading

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«Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose» – a short foray into Beethoven’s sets of variations

Dressler-Variations WoO 63, beginning of the theme

The “variations” form type plays an important role in Beethoven’s work during his entire life. His very first work to be published, by his teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe in 1782, was his 9 piano variations on a march by Dressler WoO 63. “Beethoven begins with variations,” the music critic Paul Bekker wrote in 1911, to which we could add that he also ends with variations: The Diabelli Variations op. 120 are amongst his last piano works, crowning not only his creativity, but probably equalled only by Bach’s Goldberg Variations in the history of the piano variation. Continue reading

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Christmas with Beethoven

In keeping with our Beethoven blog to mark the composer’s 250th anniversary, this year’s Christmas post will also revolve around Beethoven, although, alas, he composed very little church music and did not – like Bach – leave us a wonderful Christmas oratorio. Continue reading

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Beethoven performing Beethoven? The composer writing his own cadenzas

Beethoven performing Beethoven – I expect that you’re like me: how much I would like to have been there when Beethoven was performing his own works on the piano. But since time travel is not yet an option and recordings are not available, this will just have to stay a nice dream. Really? Don’t we at least get a chance at an indirect idea of a Beethoven performance?

(Thöny, Wilhelm: Beethoven at the piano – print based on drawing. With kind permission by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn)

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Beethoven anniversary in the Henle blog

As we were celebrating our 200th blog post two weeks ago, my colleague Wolf-Dieter Seiffert cast a splendid glance back at the many highly interesting and, we hope, entertaining articles that our blog team has written since 2011. Today I am looking ahead, because for Henle publishers next year is a very special one, the 250th birthday of the very greatest: LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN. Our blog will inevitably also be part and parcel of the excitement, so here, too, we’ll be paying special homage to the Viennese master in 2020, with all of the upcoming 20 plus blog posts from now until Christmas next year revolving around Ludwig van Beethoven! Continue reading

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200 Henle blog posts. Hard to believe, but true!

You are reading the 200th post of the Henle blog. Two hundred! Hard to believe. So many exciting, informative, entertaining original texts. Thoroughly researched essays from our editorial staff on music sources, reading variants, philologically interesting things about new publications, and so much more. Continue reading

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At long last: Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra is now also in a handy format

The great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók has finally entered the Henle catalogue as of spring 2016: First of all, with the Complete Critical Edition of his works that by this summer has already grown to four volumes; secondly, with the individual practical Urtext editions of his piano works based on the scholarly music text of this complete edition. These really offer meanwhile something for everyone, from the beginners’ repertoire (with the instructive books For Children and Mikrokosmos) via the  Bartók classics (such as the Romanian Folk Dances) up to the advanced virtuoso literature (for example, with the  Improvisations op. 20). But up to now one thing has been missing:  Bartók’s name in the series of our study scores in a handy format. So, we were all the more pleased to be able to fill this gap when in 2018 the Concerto for Orchestra was at long last published in the complete edition. Continue reading

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Quality: especially valuable – the galley proofs in Fauré’s 1st Cello Sonata op. 109

There is always a risk in producing an engraved plate (or a digital file today) for a printed music edition that the engraver/typesetter will not accurately copy the model in some places. That’s why composers were already insisting very early on that the publishing house in question let them have a galley proof to proofread and correct before the final printing. This was, in fact, no guarantee of a flawless first edition, for composers often overlooked compositional errors or, vice versa, the engraver overlooked or misunderstood the composers’ corrections. But it gave composers some degree of certainty that the printed music text would not appear littered with errors. Moreover, the proofreading offered a welcome opportunity to make changes here and there in the original version.

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Dont worry, be happy – the first critical Urtext edition of etudes by Jakob Dont

Jakob Dont (1815–88)

Every violinist is most likely acquainted with them from violin lessons: the 24 Études et Caprices op. 35 by Jakob Dont (1815–1888) are even today an irreplaceable curriculum item. The reason for this is certainly that Dont was successful in finding a congenial way to combine targeted training for certain technical challenges within an appealing and melodious musical form. Dozens of various editions are on the market today, though all differ from each other – sometimes considerably.  What then is the “real” Dont? Continue reading

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