Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966) made his conducting debut with performances of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, and continued to advocate for new music during his long and renowned career. Though known primarily as a conductor, Scherchen arranged and composed as well, with his arrangement of Bach’s Art of the Fugue for orchestra being his most successful work. When the First World War broke out in 1914, Scherchen was conducting the Riga Symphony Orchestra. Interned by Russia at this time, Scherchen turned to composing, and in the winter of 1914/1915, completed his first and only string quartet.
Archive for September, 2009
For the past several weeks, the digitization team has been hard at work disbinding, scanning, and posting quartets from the collection. More quartets will continue to appear in the online repository over the coming weeks, but look for trios to begin appearing soon as well. We’ve identified over 300 trios in Sibley’s collection that fall within the scope of the project, including works, or arrangements of works, by Brahms, d’Indy, Franck, Haydn, Mozart, Rameau, Schumann and Scriabin. We’ve begun pulling them from the stacks today, and will start preparing them for digitization this week.
Scholars and performers more familiar with the “standard repertoire” of frequently-republished nineteenth-century instrumental music may be surprised not to find a full score when perusing many of the chamber works found on the U of R research page. While full scores were typically issued for ensembles including piano, such as piano quartets or quintets, only a very small percentage of the string quartets we have digitized include them, for instance. This is also the norm even for larger ensembles of up to eight or nine instruments, or any group which did not include a pianist and was presumably small enough to not need a conductor. While contemporary scholars, trained to analyze from the score, may find this to be a problem, it was evidently standard practice for nineteenth-century publishers, who were issuing music for performance rather than scholarly study.
On the rare occasions when publishers did issue a full score of a chamber work, it was almost always in the familiar pocket-sized miniature score format. However, we have found several quite interesting specimens of super-miniature score printed on full-sized paper, resulting in an almost-illegible tangle of staves suitable only for reference. For instance, see this arrangement of Schubert’s Valses Nobles, op. 77, for string quartet with optional bass part.
Dan Zager, Dean of Sibley Music Library, was recently interviewed by WXXI’s Brenda Tremblay about the current digitization project at Sibley. Dan gives some background for the project, explains the digitization process, and discusses some the effects it may have in the worlds of both music and digital resources.
Walter Rabl (1873-1940) was a gifted composer who studied with J.F. Hummel and Karl Nawrátil. In 1896, his Quartet in E flat for Piano, Clarinet, Violin, and Cello, Op. 1 won 1st prize in a competition sponsored by the Vienna Tonkünstlerverein, of which Johannes Brahms was president. Brahms passed on the piece to his publisher, Simrock. This was a novel combination of instruments, possibly even the first piece written as such, and so Simrock published it in 1897 with an optional viola part to be used in place of the clarinet.
Welcome to Sibley Digital Scores, Sibley Music Library’s new site for its digitization program. Utilizing a blog format, the site will provide up to date news on the status of the current, 2-year digitization project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as interesting information about composers and their music featured in our digital collection.
Check out the “What We Do” section for a narrative of how scores go from the shelves of Sibley to online and freely available. For more information on the program, Sibley Library, and its collections, see the “About the Project” page, and check out the links in the sidebar.
Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. We hope you enjoy learning more about digitization at Sibley!
Sibley Music Library is a part of the Eastman School of Music, at the University of Rochester.