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Underscore - The AR Blog

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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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A Rare Pair: Marcello’s Oratorios for the Assumption

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 10:38:26 AM America/Chicago

By Michael Burden

Benedetto MarcelloMusical works rarely come in pairs—at least in genuine ones, that is. But the two oratorios written to mark the feast of the Assumption by the Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello (1688–1739)—Il pianto e il riso delle quattro stagioni (1731) and Il trionfo della Poesia, e della Musica (1733)—are exceptional in this regard. They were both written by the same composer for the same feast day, the same venue, and the same series of oratorio performances; and both texts, though unconnected, are highly allegorical in nature. In both works, the story is carried forward by a small number of characters, with little or no involvement of a chorus, and both are characteristic examples of the oratorio volgare genre—the dominant oratorio genre of early eighteenth-century Italy.

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Förster’s “Bizarre, Humorous, and Searching” String Quartets

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:56:20 PM America/Chicago

By Nancy November

The name of Emanuel Aloys Förster (1748–1823) comes up with some frequency when one researches Beethoven’s string quartets, yet Förster’s own quartets are no longer part of the standard chamber music repertoire, nor are they much discussed by musicologists. This neglect stems partly from the fact that only three of Förster’s string quartets were available in score until recently. But it also reflects the fact that his works have invariably been considered solely in comparison with Beethoven’s string quartets. These three editions, comprising the eighteen quartets published during Förster’s lifetime (opp. 7, 16, and 21, featuring six quartets each), aim to bring this important composer back to the notice of performers and scholars.

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