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From Sketch to First Edition: The (Almost) Seamless Source Documentation of Edward Elgar’s Violin Sonata – from G. Henle Verlag

Guest post by Dr. Norbert Müllemann, Editor-in-Chief of G. Henle Verlag

Many Urtext editions and their sources cross the desk of an editor at the G. Henle publishing house – but we are seldom dealing with such a comprehensive source documentation as is the case with Elgar’s violin sonata. Nearly ever step of the work’s genesis can still be retraced today, and yet in preparing this edition its editors were constantly confronted with unresolved issues – how could that be?

In August 1918 Elgar’s wife, Alice, mentions in her diary: “E. writing wonderful new music, different from anything else of his. A. [i.e., Alice herself] calls it wood magic. So elusive and delicate.” The start of work on this “Wood magic [reference to the location of their country manor near the Fittleworth woods in West Sussex?]” is captured in sketch material. We see literally how Elgar initially recorded crucial themes that he wanted to develop further later on. Before the first accolade of what is apparently the first sketch, you will find Elgar’s remark: “1. idea.” This “first idea” consists of the opening bars of the first movement, and it appears that Elgar actually worked through the entire sonata from “start to finish.” The sketches for the 2nd movement play a special role here, for here he enshrined in music his response to sad news from his circle of friends (a death and an illness). This is existential music that Elgar sent — an exceptional instance — in the sketch stage to the woman friend injured in an accident, so that she could share in the composition: “This I wrote just after your telegram about the accident came & I send you the pencil notes as first made at that sad moment.” The sketches still extant today are in fact snapshots giving us an insight into Elgar’s workshop.

The complete sonata must have developed out of the sketches fairly soon, for as early as September Elgar played through the work with his friend, the violinist William Henry Reed. To do this, he made autograph fair copies of both the violin/piano score and a separate violin part. He evidently needed several attempts here, for extant are autograph drafts coming, so to speak, between sketch and fair copy, and indeed of the second movement (violin part) and the third movement (violin/piano score and viola part). These drafts starts out for all intents and purposes as fair copies, but we can see literally how Elgar begins to correct, deletes, rewrites and finally discards the whole manuscript.

In order to keep track of the many manuscripts, he finally recorded the respective current correction status on the title pages, noting, e.g., “corrected” or “not revised.”

On top of that, the trial play-through with William Henry Reed initiated a new correction process. The fair copies include numerous erasures, corrections in ink, but also in various red and blue pencils. Different hands can be detected as apparently both Elgar and Reed made entries. To complete the confusion, the correction states of the separate violin parts differ from those of the violin parts within the violin/piano scores.

And yet Elgar decided to send these fair copies as engraver’s models to the Novello publishing house. In order to clarify which model is applicable, there are, in addition, indications for the publishing house on the fair-copy title pages, such as “bowing incorrect | engrave from score,”or something similar. And Elgar even went so far as to make the effort to optimize good page turns, stipulating: “to printer: […] As to, ‘turn over’ see pp 3&4, turns over might come anywhere where this mark is placed.”

We see in these autographs a composer who not only meticulously corrected his work, but who also wanted to keep maximum control over the entire production process. And the story is still not over: The differences between the autographs and the first edition clearly show that Elgar very thoroughly  read the galley proofs and even changed details at this stage, adding indications and stipulating, for example, dynamic markings. Fortunately, such a set of proofs with his entries has survived. But this set of proofs does not explain all the changes between autograph and published first edition. If we compare the readings, autograph – galley proof – first edition, then it necessarily follows that he read two more sets of galleys, and that amongst these three galleys, what is extant is the middle set.

As mentioned at the outset, such a complete documentation of the compositional process is rather rare. The first edition ultimately authorized by Elgar appeared in 1919, thus offering a precise score secured by all the rest of the sources. But does that musical text also leave nothing to be desired? When I put it that way, then probably hardly. Here are some examples:

At two places there are ties in the piano part of the autograph fair copy that have not made it into the printed version. Was this Elgar’s oversight? Would he actually have overlooked these ties during three proofreading? I think the tie is more pianistically/musically convincing – what about you?

 

ElgarViolinSonata1

In the autograph tie f-sharp 1 – f-sharp 1

 

ElgarViolinSonata2

In the autograph tie E – E

 

In the fair-copy autograph of the 1st movement, bb. 271/272, there are the following fingerings for the left hand:

 

ElgarViolinSonata3

 

Are they intentionally omitted in the print? Should they “only” be an indication that the slur is not to be played as a tie, but as a legato slur? Has then the information gotten lost in the first edition? Or is it the other way around: Did Elgar mean ties and therefore eradicated the fingering in print to avoid misunderstandings?

And finally the dynamics in the violin right at the end of the sonata. The autograph of the piano score has:

ElgarViolinSonata4

The autograph violin part has:

ElgarViolinSonata5

The printed piano score reads:

ElgarViolinSonata6

(This reading was not changed in the proof) and ultimately the printed violin part reads:

ElgarViolinSonata7

What applies? Has Elgar lost control here of the various stages of correction despite all efforts? All these questions are addressed in the new Urtext edition by G. Henle and passed on to all violinists and Elgar fans.

ElgarViolinSonataCover

Here is a great interpretation of the first movement by violinist Yehudi Menuhin and pianist Hepzibah Menuhin:

 


NorbertMuellemannDr. Norbert Müllemann has been editor-in-chief of G. Henle Verlag since 2017 and has been working as an editor at G. Henle Verlag since 2005. He completed his doctorate at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich in 2008 with a thesis titled “Handschriften Frédéric Chopins bis 1830. Studien zur Authentizität, Datierung und Werkgenese” (“Frederic Chopin’s Manuscripts up to 1830: Studies on Authenticity, Dating and Work Origin”). He also studied musicology, German philology and philosophy at the University of Cologne and piano at the Music Conservatory in Cologne.

 

Introducing ArrangeMe: Legally Create and Sell Arrangements for over 1000 Copyrighted Songs

Start creating the arrangements you’ve been dreaming of. Arrange over 1000 hot copyrighted songs.

Sheet Music Plus is excited to announce ArrangeMe, a groundbreaking program that allows arrangers to create and sell arrangements of copyrighted music exclusively on Sheet Music Plus through the digital self-publishing platform SMP Press. Sheet Music Plus worked with music publisher Hal Leonard to provide SMP Press users with over 1000 songs, from Broadway showstoppers to award-winning hits. It’s free and easy to participate. Sheet Music Plus, together with Hal Leonard, handles payments to copyright holders so arrangers have more time to create. Continue reading ‘Introducing ArrangeMe: Legally Create and Sell Arrangements for over 1000 Copyrighted Songs’

Sheet Music Plus Interviews Morty Manus, co-author of Alfred’s Basic Piano Library

by Jacy Burroughs

Piano teachers, have you ever wondered about the creative process that goes into developing a piano method? In September 2015, I had the privilege of interviewing Morty Manus, former president of Alfred Music Publishing and co-author of the popular piano method series Alfred’s Basic Piano Library. He and his wife, Iris, shared with me the story of how the popular piano method series Alfred’s Basic Piano Library was born.

I was deeply saddened to hear of Morty’s passing early in 2016. He was so charming and full of life just a few short months earlier. How lucky I was to have participated in this interview and, with the support of Alfred Music’s fine recording studio staff, publish these videos in honor of him. The interview is separated into thirteen chapters, each of which is summarized below.

In memoriam: Morty Manus (1926-2016)

Continue reading ‘Sheet Music Plus Interviews Morty Manus, co-author of Alfred’s Basic Piano Library’

New Year’s Music Selling Contest for Composers, Arrangers, and Songwriters

New Year's Selling_Contest Graphic_443x140_v2.jpg

Composers, Arrangers, and Songwriters:  we’ve got another exciting contest for you happening now through the end of December.  Upload your sheet music and mp3 recordings to automatically enter the New Year’s Music Selling Contest. The more titles you upload, the greater chance you have of winning!

Let Sheet Music Plus help you accomplish a New Year’s resolution of publishing and selling more of your music.  Upload the best-selling title in the below categories and win $300! We encourage you to upload as many titles as possible across the categories below in December, then promote and sell your titles from January 12 – February 15.  The submission period has already started so start uploading your titles ASAP!

Here’s how it works:

  • December 1-31, 2014 – Upload new original compositions and arrangements to your Digital Print Publishing account
  • January 10, 2015 – All titles will be live on sheetmusicplus.com
  • January 12 – February 15, 2015 – Selling competition period
  • February 20, 2015 – Top-selling products at end of selling competition period will be announced

Categories:

  • Instrumental: Concert Band, Jazz (Big Band, Combo), Orchestra (full and string), Chamber Ensemble, Solo
  • Sacred Choral: all voicings
  • School/Community Choral: all voicings
  • Piano: solo, 4-hand, duets

Contest Prizes

  • Best-Selling Instrumental – $300
  • Best-Selling Sacred Choral – $300
  • Best-Selling School/Community Choral – $300
  • Best-Selling Piano – $300

Stay tuned for more strategies on how to market and promote your music once the competition selling period starts.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or write an email to : helpdigitalpublishing@sheetmusicplus.com

For your reference, here’s the link for Digital Print Publishing:

https://digitalprintpublishing.sheetmusicplus.com/

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Terms and Conditions:

*All entries must be titles uploaded for the first time. Sheet Music Plus reserves the right to disqualify a title due to copyright concerns, violation of contest terms, content deemed inappropriate, or any other reason. Rights to all uploaded titles remain the property of the original owner. All titles associated with this contest are subject to our Digital Print Publishing Terms and Conditions.


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