Home   |   About Me   |   Older Posts   |   Contact   |   Links   |   Acknowledgements   |   Subscribe

15 September 2017

26. Moving targets (Episode #4)

A recurring theme on this blog is the source that purports to be one thing while it is actually something else.  (In a previous post I discussed this regarding sources for Handels Messiah available on the IMSLP.)  Another recurring theme is the edition (or sometimes even manuscript) that changes over time without necessarily calling attention to those changes.  (A post considered this with the case of Bernsteins Overture to Candide.)  This post combines a little of both.  And while this may all seem innocuous, Im not sure that it is.

Musicians will be familiar with the American firm Dover Publications.  By the 1970s and 80s they had turned almost entirely to sturdy reprints of public domain editions.  Their output extends far beyond music, and I can remember browsing through their sales catalog, bemused and amazed by the range of reprints for which they could find a market.  Since the 1990s they have originated a few editions of music, but their bread and butter has been reprinting out-of-print editions at competitive prices.  In contrast to the reprints from firms like Kalmus, Dover has made durable products, and the blurb on the back (this is a permanent book) wasnt much of an overstatement.  A few of the scores Ive used the most have fallen into pieces, but many of the Dover books I got 25+ years ago are still in good condition.

In about 1997 someone at Dover had the bright idea of issuing miniature scores, which would open up a wider educational market.  There was a problem with this:  a lot of the scores they were reprinting originally had appeared in a very large formatsay 14 or 15 inches tall.  That was the case of the old Bach Gesellschaft edition, from which Dover drew extensively.  Dovers “large” scores were already a reduction of the original dimensions:  often 9x12, sometimes 8.5x11.  The smallest of the Dover “large” scores Ive used is their reprint of Franck organ works, an oblong volume measuring only 8.25 inches at the spine; the original Durand scores from which these were taken measured some 10.5 inches at the spine (although with more generous margins).  The further reduction to a miniature score format can be awkward.

And that is apparently what happened.  Dovers first release of study scores were the same size as their popular “thrift” reprints of literature, with dimensions of 5x8 or slightly larger.  Within a few years, the same publications (with the same ISBNs) were issued in a slightly larger format.  The images below show side by side these two issues of one of these early publications:

SOURCE:  I put both copies side by side in the photocopier and scanned them, front and back.
The score on the left I got in the fall of 1998 as desk copy for a course for which I was one of the instructors.  Im not sure when I got the copy on the right, but judging from some notes I made in it I must have had it by 2002.  The key differences on the back cover:  the elimination of the clause “ample margins at the bottom of each score page for notes an analysis” (which itself betrayed that the dimensions of the publication were not calculated with the right aspect ratio for the matter that was to appear on the page), the addition of a list of some other available scores, and the increased price (marked-up 1/3).  The contents are the same, so far as I can make out, and it would surprise me if they weren't.

Note the source of this publication.  Here it is (again) from either copyright page:
SOURCE:  cropped scan of copyright page of the Dover miniature score.

The words “an authoritative edition, n.d.” scarcely inspire confidence.  Most of the publications in this series reprint the same edition that Dover issued in a larger format.  Ironically, the large-score publication of Haydn's London symphonies reprinted a series of miniature scores:
SOURCE:  cropped scan of copyright page of the Dover full score.
Eulenburg scores were designed to be small-format.  To my eye, Dovers enlargement appears odd (there seems to be too much space between staves, too little information on each page) where the proportions seem right in the original format.

It would be reasonable to assume that the Dover miniature score was a reprint of this same text.  Indeed, the IMSLP has assumed as much:
SOURCE:  cropped screenshot from IMSLP (accessed 20 June 2017)
But it isnt so.  Below is a comparison of the first page:  the Dover 1985 (Eulenburg reprint) is on the left; the Dover 1997 miniature score is on the right.  (Apologies for the size of the image, but you can scroll back and forth as necessary to see the details.)

While even at first glance these are recognizably different scores, the differences are not just in the formatting (two systems for the first page of the miniature score).  There are textual differences too.  The miniature score has an initial dynamic of ff for the entire ensemble, has introduced crescendo hairpins in b. 5, and has accents rather than sf in the Violino I part in bb. 3-5.  The miniature score has 58 pages of music, while the Dover/Eulenburg has 74 (not surprising for a score designed to be in small format).

The score I refer to as Dover/Eulenburg (that is, the 1985 Dover reprint) is what it purports to be.  Here is the first page of the Eulenburg score, as proof of that:
SOURCE:  digital scan of p. 1 of 1936 Eulenburg score (ed. Ernst Praetorius)

What, then, is the “authoritative edition” that Dover reprinted in 1997?  It ought to be on the shelves somewhereand readers at big music libraries might be able to lay their hands on it quickly.  I have pursued it via interlibrary loan (ordering up every edition I can find), but even then editions can be miscatalogued in so many ways.  I havent found it yet, and I would be glad to know.  Anyone?  I will be delighted to have an addendum to this post once the source edition is located.

01 August 2017

25. [fermata]

This ought to be a Bach post.  I suppose I could make a Bach connectionlike the ways in which his cantata cycle plans were interrupted by the efforts to complete his big passion settings.  Today marks the first birthday of this blog, but it also marks a caesura of sortsa chance to catch ones breath.  Life has put a fermata on my blogging.

When I started the blog, I committed to posting twice a month.  Ive done that, and Ive enjoyed it enormously.  I figured I would be blogging into the void about things that no one really cared much about.  I have been astonished and gratified by the interest people have shown in it (and sometimes been mystified by which posts approached virality); Ive been delighted to meet new friends and colleagues; and my list of topics for posts seems as long now as it did 25 posts ago.  It amazes me that I havent done more with Mozart yet, as I have a lot I want to do therefor example discussing Ian Woodfields fascinating discoveries in the autograph manuscript of Così fan tutte, one of my favorite books.  Or (to name another) John Michael Coopers study of Mendelssohn’s “Italian” symphony; or the late, lamented Phillip Gossetts Divas and Scholars, which so engagingly deals with the very practical consequences of a performers view of a musical text.  And there are so many fascinating editions to considerlike the new Gershwin projectto say nothing of the older materials that are coming online at an overwhelming rate.  And I have pedagogical issues to discuss. In so many ways, no matter what I treat on this blog it is always the tip of an iceberg in a sea full of them.  Confronting an overload of textual issues, there is something very freeing about knowing that theres no need to prioritize or triage:  I can chip away at whatever happens to interest me at any given moment, and encourage others to do the same.  And I am simply delighted that anyone else would want to peer over my shoulder.

I must now lift my self-imposed commitment for twice-monthly posts.  Ive taken a new job and moved my family 400+ miles into a totally new setting.  In that the blog has been an activity in my free time (something that I wasnt really aware I had), at the moment there are more important calls on that time, such as it is.  In this year of blogging I have published nothing else, and in the coming months a number of projects return to be proofed or reviewed, quite apart from the new job responsibilities.  I will continue to post when I have an opportunity and to tweet anything I see that looks relevant to musical textual issues; but for the next year or so it must needs not be on a regular schedule.  (During this fall term I will hope for a post every six weeks, and hope to post more frequently in the spring.)  I will complete my Bach-Jahrgang project belatedly (like JSB himself), and I know lots of things I want to get to when there is time, including facets of the pre-history of this blog.  And, for those who have joined late, I hope some will review the earlier posts to see what you might have missed.  In the meantime, a few images to whet the appetites:









But for now it must be au revoir.


15 July 2017

24. Against the muddy tide

SOURCE:  scan of Dirk Stoop's engraving Aqua Triumphalis (Aug. 23, 1662, preceding the wedding of Charles II) at the National Maritime Museum; available at http://www.historyextra.com/river
Images like the one above are a healthy reminder to me that George I was not the first to have elaborate festivities on the Thames.  And yet the date that will always be most associated with such water parties must surely be 17 July 1717the impending tercentenary of which I simply must mark with this post.  As musical water parties are known to have happened in each of the three preceding summers, the eye-catching 7/17/1717 date may not be the first performance of Handels Water Music, but it is the earliest documented performanceand it is very well documented indeed.

Water Music fits into a long tradition of music for a social occasion; but as a musical structure itself, the work is shockingly innovativean orchestral piece of unprecedented length and variety.  Are there any predecessors to rival it?  In a way, Water Music represents the first maturity of the orchestraand, maybe except for occasional performances of Corelli concerti grossi, it must be the earliest music that can be said to fit into the established orchestra repertoire.  While modern symphony orchestras have largely abandoned the Baroque, edged-out by their HIP rivals, Water Music is still performed by all sorts of ensembles, and seems to be a perennial crowd-pleaser.  New recordings (and cheap reissues of old ones) emerge year after year, and twice in recent years (2003 and 2012) there have been conspicuous performances on the Thames itselfconspicuous enough for me to have noticed, anyway.
SOURCE:  Daily Mail image of the 3 June 2012 Jubilee flotilla on the Thames; the Academy of Ancient Music website has some entertaining videos concerning their part of the festivities.

Probably the work seldom gets performed intact.  The 22 movements that comprise what we call Water Music do not cohere in any traditional pattern, and that has caused problems for Handel scholars in the past.  Lacking an autograph, it was assumed that the strange sequence of movements indicated that something had been garbled in transmission.  Here is a handy index from Christopher Hogwood’s Cambridge Music Handbook:

SOURCE:  cropped scan of pp. 18-19 of Handel:  Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks (2005)
As indicated by the catalogue numbers of the Handel Werke Verzeichnis (HWV), Water Music has been allotted three entriesthe movements in F (and two in D minor) are HWV 348; those in D major are HWV 349; and those in G major/minor are HWV 350.  HWV thus presents three suites together making up a larger collected work.  Lacking any further evidence, this division would be wholly reasonableand it is more practical in performance, as each suite is unified not only by key but by instrumentation (with trumpets appearing only in the movements on HWV 349, and no brass at all in HWV 350, which instead features flute and recorder).  The idea that the conglomeration of movements that we think of as Handels Water Music actually comprise three separate works goes back to Handels time: some manuscript copies dating from the late 1730s and early 1740s, together with  the 1743 Walsh keyboard arrangement presents the movements grouped together into the three suites.  That sequence took over the received history, and thus the three catalogue numbers.  The work had appeared as three suites in the Hällische Händel Ausgabe (HHA) in 1962, and that imprimatur led to a myriad of recordings that present Water Music so allotted.  And it works:  I was at a concert not that long ago that had the F major suite at the beginning of the program, a smattering of Bach and Telemann in the middle, and the last two suites as the conclusion, the whole making a very satisfying musical experience.

SOURCE:  scan first page of score (f. 2) of 1718 ms.
in the library of the Royal Society of Musicians [no shelfmark];
scan from https://museums.eu/event/details/120375/handels-water-music
Given Handels default modus operandi, it would seem a little unusual if Water Music wasnt to some extent a thing of shreds and patches.  Terence Best points at the solo violins in the fugal section of the French overture, suggesting that that sort of writing would have been inaudible in the open air, and thus likely to have been retained (unthinkingly?) from some preëxisting work.  And yet, as Best is also at pains to point out, all of the earliest manuscript copies not only mix movements of the D and G suites together, but in fact they all preserve most or all of the 22 movements in very nearly the same order.  The 2004 discovery of the earliest known manuscript copy (datable to 1718 [and the first page is shown at right])which gives the 22 movements in precisely the same sequence as the first published full score (ed. Samuel Arnold in 1788), a sequence familiar to us because Arnolds edition was the primary source for Chrysanders in the old complete works volume (1886).  We do not know Arnolds source (although Best [p. 102] argues reasonably that it was indeed this source), but the newly-discovered copy is enough to verify that this sequence of movements was known within a year of the supposed 1717 premiere.  The HHA has thus now issued a new volume (2007, co-edited by Best and Hogwood) to supersede the old.  (This pair of editions would make an ideal topic for my series of moving targets, but I havent done sufficient homework comparing them to write that up yet.  Eventually.)

So what about that unusual sequence, now being restored to favor?  It is a curious hybrid of suite and concertante forms, and it doesnt even settle down to just one sort of suite.  It opens with a French overture, interrupted before a final cadence by a solo oboe number; following that is really an Italian overture (fast-slow-fast) featuring the horns; then a series of conventional dances or dance-like numbers (menuets, bourrée, hornpipe, Air).  After all the F major movements are done, there follows a d-minor number displaying Handels orchestrational technique at its most forward-lookingbut which is hardly either a closing or an opening to a suite.  Thereafter, in Hogwoods words,
From this point in the suite both the scoring and the changes of tonality become more varied, a strategy that seems designed to maintain attention through an hour-long performance—the length of time of a full act in an opera, but no other musical form to date.  [p. 35]
The brilliant brass writing that follows is closer to Handels (subsequent) concerti a due cori than to anything elsein other words concertante writing again  The remaining dances are diverse and diverting, but there is no conclusion as substantial as those of Telemanns Tafelmusik; the Trumpet Menuet that de facto brings the whole thing to a close seems perfunctory, and to my ear the weakest part of the whole set.

SOURCE:  discogs.com
Given his later scholarship on this work, I was curious to revisit Hogwood's own recording (1978).  It is inevitably a product of its time.  Hogwood not only followed the three suite model of the original HHA, but also interpolated two much later F-major reworkings of the two central D-major trumpet/horn numbers.  Wonderful music as these are, their inclusion here only muddies the textual waters.  And to confuse things further, Decca several times reissued only either the horn suite or the trumpet suite from these sessions.  Hogwoods dominance in the recording market place in the 1980s and 1990s has surely meant thatfor better or worsethese performances have played a large role in shaping our sense of the work.  (Or works?)  Im not even sure that it is a problem, but it is worth acknowledging.  (A similar issue came up in a post concerning Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.)

I tried an informal experiment for this post:  listening to a recording with the CD or MP3 player set on SHUFFLE, hoping to see if any resulting sequence of movements would be viable.  It wont, at least for me, but if we were to view the whole thing as a sort of compendium of music to keep the party going, a number of routes might work.  A crucial difference is to have a musical intelligence making the decision, rather than just a mechanical randomization.  In other words, it requires a deejay.