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Underscore - The AR Blog

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Beyond the Dowie Dens: The Songs of Hamish MacCunn (1868–1916)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 3:00:00 PM America/Chicago

By Jennifer Oates

N069When I stumbled upon a CD of Hamish MacCunn’s music as a young graduate student, I was entranced by the excerpts from his opera Jeanie Deans, whose combination of folk-like music evoking the Scottish countryside, juxtaposed with the surprisingly modern sounding arias, suggested a composer with great range and depth. Most of what has been written about MacCunn and his music has focused on his Scottish artistic persona from 1887 through 1894 and on the Scottish-styled compositions that had cemented this persona and established his career. But while I enjoyed MacCunn’s overtly Scottish compositions, they did not have the range and emotional depth of the music from Jeanie Deans that I had heard on that recording long ago. Where, I wondered, was the dynamic musical style that had so vividly captured my attention? I found the MacCunn of Jeanie Deans in his works for solo instruments (particularly those piano, cello, and violin), partsongs—and especially in his songs.

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My Many Colored Pencils (Well, Not Really That Many)

Thursday, July 26, 2018 3:00:00 PM America/Chicago

By Esther Criscuola de Laix

Pencils and eraser

I’d like to talk a bit about pencils, those intriguing sticks of wood, metal, rubber, and a “pigment core” of graphite or something else. In this digital age, not much is done with pencils anymore, because not much is done with paper anymore. But when I sit down to copyedit the music portion of an author’s manuscript, the first thing I do is pull out my pencil pouch. The colored pencils it contains are among the most essential tools of my editorial trade, and each color is used for a specific purpose. Each editor’s individual markup practices vary, but there are three colors that we on the editorial staff at A-R Editions all use pretty much the same way: red, green, and blue.

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On the Braille Trail: In Search of the Organist-Composers of INJA

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:00:00 PM America/Chicago

Figure 1

By Harvey H. Miller

The Recueil de morceaux d’orgue à l’usage spécial des élèves de l’Institution impériale des jeunes aveugles de Paris (1863) is one of the earliest known publications of music in braille notation. Its fifty-four pieces were composed by four blind composers who attended and later taught at the Institution des Jeunes Aveugles, Paris’s school for the blind. With this edition (N071), which includes historical background on the composers, the institution, and braille notation, this music is available to sighted musicians for the first time. The following is the editor’s account of the genesis of this project, which took him upward of ten years to complete.

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Grand Music for a New Empire: Salieri’s Plenary Mass of 1804

Thursday, February 22, 2018 8:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Jane Schatkin Hettrick

Antonio SalieriSix oboes, four clarinets, ten bassoons, one contrabassoon, four horns, four trumpets, and two timpani—such are the extra instrumental forces that Salieri added to the Vienna Hofkapelle orchestra for an extraordinary occasion in 1804: the inauguration of an empire, when Holy Roman Emperor Franz II became Emperor Franz I of Austria. For this event, Hofkapellmeister Antonio Salieri created his most monumental work of liturgical music, the twelve-movement, double-choir Plenary Mass with Te Deum, published here for the first time. The complete work took shape in stages over several years, being based on a mass Salieri originally composed in 1799, as well a single-choir Te Deum dating back to a setting from 1790. For the 1804 version, Salieri used his original scores but devised letter codes to indicate the new instruments and only sketched out some sections. This historic composition stands apart from all Salieri’s other liturgical music, showing the composer at his grandest.

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The Mighty Handful’s “Phantom” Opera

Thursday, November 2, 2017 10:38:00 AM America/Chicago

By Albrecht Gaub

Mlada (1872)

Within the annals of Russian opera, the collaborative opera-ballet Mlada (1872), with music by four members of the group of composers known as the Mighty Handful, is a case sui generis. The four-act spectacle was originally devised by Stepan Gedeonov, the director of the imperial theaters, who combined a scenario borrowed from an 1839 ballet with his own historical theories concerning the Western Slavs and their role in founding the first Russian empire. The music was divided act by act among the members of the Handful, with Cui taking the first act, Borodin the fourth, and Musorgskii and Rimskii-Korsakov sharing the two middle acts scene by scene. The surviving music for Mlada is now available in its entirety for the first time, and with this edition all surviving operas by major Russian composers of the nineteenth century have been published.

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