A difficult case: Chopin’s b-minor sonata op. 58 in Urtext

Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849)

Frédéric Chopin’s final piano sonata op. 58 is full of delightful musical moments. Strict music analysts sometimes find fault with its somewhat sprawling form, but for me personally, the b-minor sonata is truly great piano music. Very difficult piano music, too, unfortunately: the technical demands are immense, and hobby pianists quickly reach their limits (so, here is a recording by Dinu Lipatti). The sonata is, though, also not easy from the editorial perspective, an insight that rather unexpectedly hit me as editor of the new Urtext edition (HN 871). Continue reading

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“Gabriellas sång” by Brahms?

For Stefan Nilsson (died 25 May 2023)

Whilst preparing for a lecture on the Johannes Brahms piano trios, given on 28 January 2023 in Schloss Elmau (here is the complete recording), I also dealt for the first time more intensively with the A-major piano trio sometimes attributed to Johannes Brahms. As the trio is unquestionably a musically impressive piece of music, it is astonishing that its gifted composer has remained unknown to this day. The Trio E.T.A., having kindly played several live music examples during my lecture in Elmau, is firmly convinced that for stylistic reasons this four-movement piano trio can only be a work by the young Brahms. Therefore, towards the end of my lecture, we improvised a friendly debate about this “work without author”, from which the Trio E.T.A. also played some of its excerpts (see video from: 1:03:35 ff.). Continue reading

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Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody and the treasures in the Library of Congress

Source folders in the publisher’s archive

Since one of my great privileges as Urtext publisher and editor is that I occasionally get to travel to the sources, my visits to the Library of Congress’s Performing Arts Reading Room have always been highlights of my working life. Amongst the elusive treasures in Washington, D.C., is the autograph of Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody.
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No end to Rachmaninoff in sight: several annotations to opp. 3 and 16

Perhaps – despite the anniversary year – I’m rather overdoing it with my blog posts on the Rachmaninoff topic😊 However, the sales figures and almost daily email requests for further editions show us how enormously great the interest in Rachmaninoff’s music is, worldwide. Our catalogue is at least well stocked: published recently were the two piano cycles Morceaux de fantaisie op. 3 (HN 1491) and Six Moments musicaux op. 16 (HN 1492). And although Rachmaninoff very thoroughly proofread his first editions, to be found again whilst preparing these editions were some interesting details and errors still remaining to date in reprints. Continue reading

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Something new from the low register: At long last, Koussevitzky’s Double Bass Concerto op. 3 in Urtext

Serge Koussevitzky (1874-1951)

Henle catalogue readers in the know are already aware that Dresden double bassist Tobias Glöckler regularly comes out with excellent new editions for his instrument. After classical solo concertos (Dittersdorf, Vanhal, Hoffmeister) and solo pieces from the 19th century (Dragonetti, Rossini, Saint-Saëns), he has now tackled one of the great Romantic concertos: Serge Koussevitzky’s Double Bass Concerto in F-sharp minor, premièred in Moscow in 1905 – one of the most important of all works in the bassist’s repertoire. The piano reduction and study edition of the full score were published a few weeks ago; the conductor’s score and orchestral material will soon be available from the Leipzig Hofmeister publishing house. With these editions, double bassists worldwide will now have a reliable basis for dealing with this central work. Editor Tobias Glöckler describes in an interview how much this has so far been missed. Continue reading

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On the first version of Verdi’s string quartet – interview with Anselm Gerhard

Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901), photograph by Ferdinand Mulnier, ca. 1875

Our recently published new edition of Giuseppe Verdi’s String Quartet in E minor (study edition HN 7588 as well as Urtext parts edition HN 1588) offers a bit of a sensation. The editor, Verdi scholar Anselm Gerhard, Bern emeritus professor of musicology, discovered not long ago in the composer’s estate a previously unknown first version (included as an appendix in HN 7588 and available as a parts edition in the Henle Library App). We’ve asked Professor Gerhard for an interview about the story of that discovery and its consequences in assessing this quartet, Verdi’s sole major chamber-music work. Continue reading

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More platforms, exciting features – news about the Henle Library app!

Almost a year has passed since I last updated you on the Henle Library app. So, it’s now high time to bring you and our over 63,000 other active users up to date. A lot has happened, but I’ll start at the beginning:

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Happy birthday, Sergei! A fresh look at Rachmaninoff’s Préludes for his 150th birthday

In the Henle blog we have already published several posts on the Sergei Rachmaninoff topic (see here), but posting on him should certainly not be lacking this year. The composer is, after all, celebrating his 150th birthday in 2023, which calls for our special attention. For the anniversary year we shall publish not only several brand-new Rachmaninoff Urtext editions (for example, you can look forward to his Paganini Rhapsody and Third Piano Concerto), but we have also planned an extra surprise…
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Gaps in the notation: Liszt’s “Mazeppa” Etude

Our attention was recently drawn to a passage in our edition of Franz Liszt’s Études d’exécution transcendante (HN 717), which has not yet been annotated in any known critical edition. Ben Yin, a piano student of Prof. Claudius Tanski’s at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, noticed while studying the notorious “Mazeppa” Etude (No. 4 of the Études d’exécution transcendante), that the outer voices at the first appearance of the theme (mm. 7 ff.) – unlike the middle voice played alternately by both hands – only incompletely fill in the 4/4-time measures: Continue reading

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Labyrinthine paths: in search of Janáček’s Urtext

No, the title is not a typo. The recently published Janáček edition is, of course, called On an Overgrown Path (HN 1505).  But an editor setting out in search of this work’s valid Urtext must truly go down labyrinthine paths. But let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading

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