Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


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Discovery of New Chopin Photograph Announced

Newly discovered photograph of Chopin

The Institut Polonais in Paris has announced that a new previously unknown photograph of Frédéric Chopin has been discovered.  The photograph. which was found by Swiss physicist and Chopin enthusiast Alain Kohler in collaboration with Gilles Bencimon of Radio France Internationale, is in the possession of a private collector.  Kohler is also known for locating Chopin’s Pleyel piano.  The Institut Polonais press release (in French) can be found here.

It is stated that the newly found daguerreotype was created in the studio of Louis-Auguste Bisson in or around 1847 (Chopin died in 1849).  The photograph was compared against other known photographs and portraits to evaluate its authenticity, and the circumstantial evidence appears to support the claim.  This would be only the third known photograph of Chopin.  Another was taken by Bisson in 1849 (below, left), and this is the most widely known image.  Another image, poorer in quality, dates from around 1847 (below, right).   Questions have been raised about another photograph, a post-mortem photograph that is said to depict Chopin.

Frederic ChopinFrederic Chopin, c. 1847

References

  1. http://www.institutpolonais.fr/#/event/1731/2
  2. http://slippedisc.com/2017/01/swiss-physicist-finds-new-chopin-photograph/

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Image attribution:  Newly found photograph said to be of Frédéric Chopin, assumed photographer Louis-Auguste Bisson (1847), [Public domain], via http://slippedisc.com/2017/01/swiss-physicist-finds-new-chopin-photograph/ ; 1849 Chopin photograph by Louis-Auguste Bisson, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frederic_Chopin_photo.jpeg; previously known 1847 image of Chopin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chopin1847_R_SW.jpg .

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Stravinsky’s “Funeral Song”, Lost for 107 Years, To Be Performed

Cover of Stravinsky's

Stravinsky’s Funeral Song, long thought to be lost, has been found, and will be performed for the first time in 107 years on December 2, 2016.

Stravinsky wrote Funeral Song in 1908 as a tribute after the death of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov.  It was last performed in January 1909, with Felix Blumenfeld conducting.  The piece was never published, and was considered lost in the chaos and upheaval of the Russian Revolution.  Stravinsky said that Funeral Song was the best thing he had ever written before The Firebird, but, unfortunately, he could not remember the music to reconstruct it.  In memoirs written in 1935 Stravinsky said,

I no longer remember the music, but I recall very well my idea for the work.  It was like a procession of all the soli instruments of the orchestra, coming in turns to each leave a melody in the form of a wreath on the master’s tomb, all the while with a low background of murmuring tremolos, like the vibrations of bass voices singing in a choir.

Various attempts had been made over the years to find the piece, all in vain.  However, during building repairs at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, after removing pianos and tons of scores from a music library, a small, previously inaccessible storage area was uncovered.  Chillingly, the music was supposed to have been destroyed.  Luckily, librarian Irina Sidorenko called musicologist Natalia Braginskaya, a Stravinsky expert who had been seeking the work at the conservatory, to tell her Funeral Song had been found.

In all, 58 orchestral parts of the 106-measure piece, which is in A minor and marked with a tempo of Largo assai, were found.  Braginskaya and a team of experts at the conservatory worked to reconstruct the full orchestral score of the piece, which will be published by Boosey and Hawkes.  It is stated that the piece is marked by a romantic style uncharacteristic of later Stravinsky works, although some of the harmony and instrumentation is reminiscent of The Firebird.

Funeral Song will be performed on December 2, 2016 at 2PM by the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev.  A live webcast of the performance of Funeral Song may be seen on Medici.tv (see link for details).

For a glimpse of the score, here is a link to a Russian-language video about the discovery. English subtitles are provided.  The score may be seen beginning at time stamp 5:45.

References

  1. http://www.medici.tv/?utm_source=Mainlist&utm_campaign=f922db39eb-353_20161124_insc_en&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ae558c6ab2-f922db39eb-320041237#/valery-gergiev-stravinsky-chant-funebre
  2. http://conservatory.ru/node/4043, Возвращение Погребальная песни Игора Стравинского [The Return of Igor Stravinsky’s Funeral Song]
  3. https://mariinsky.tv/1066 and https://youtu.be/fB6Cj-m_pMY [with English subtitles]
  4. https://mariinsky.tv/1067 and https://youtu.be/lPyZODmsxCI [with English subtitles].


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Haiku Wednesday: Vivaldi Discoveries Abound

Antonio VivaldiThey found new works by
Antonio Vivaldi
Hidden in plain sight.

You see, they weren’t
In Vivaldi’s handwriting,
But the style was his.

Who knows what wonders
Remain to be found in some
Library archive?

The earliest work of Antonio Vivaldi has been found in a library in Dresden, Germany.  Co-discoverer Javier Lupiáñez was examining 72 anonymous sonatas in the library’s archives when he realized that one of them might have been written by Vivaldi.   A watermark revealed that the manuscript of RV 820 (Trio sonata for violin and cello in G Major) came from Ansbach, where one of Vivaldi’s teachers, Giuseppe Torelli, lived. Researchers had not recognized it previously as being Vivaldi’s because it was written out by Johann Georg Pisendel, a friend of Vivaldi’s.  It is believed the work dates to around 1700, when Vivaldi was only 23.  A violin solo, in particular, had a distinctive Vivaldi technique unknown in the works of Corelli.  Lupiáñez is recognized as a co-discoverer of RV 820 with Federico Maria Sardelli.1   Sardelli discovered the work when he “stumbled by chance across one of the many anonymous manuscripts that his wife Bettina, also a musician, had gathered across Europe” and recognized the handwriting.2  You can see RV 820 here.

Javier Lupiáñez is acknowledged as the sole discoverer of RV 205/2 (Sonata for violin in A Major).1

Those keen on reading more on the discovery can read Lupiáñez’s paper on the new Vivaldi discoveries (once you set up a free account at academia.edu you can download the paper for reading).  A shorter description can be found here.

To hear a little of the new Vivaldi music, check out this lighthearted video.

This is not the first time new music from Vivaldi has come to light.  In 2012 an alternate score of Orlando Furioso was found.  While the best-known version is from 1727, a new score was found that was dated 1714.3  The history of Vivaldi discoveries can be explored hereA description of recent Vivaldi discoveries can be found here.

The co-discoverer of RV 820, Federico Maria Sardelli, who is in charge of updating the RV catalog of Vivaldi’s works, believes there is still much to be found.  “There was a complete Vivaldi silence for almost 200 years, which is very frustrating and very exciting at the same time because there is constantly a possibility of making new discoveries…Vivaldi’s body of work is like an erupting volcano.”2

Concerti con molten strumenti?

Recordings of the new works have been made by Lupiáñez’s group, Ensemble Scaramuccia and by Sardelli’s group Modo Antiquo (New Discoveries 1 and 2), among others.

References

  1. Unsigned article, “Hallan la primera sonata de Vivaldi en una biblioteca,” El Universal, 24 September 2016. Electronic version, http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/cultura/musica/2016/09/24/hallan-la-primera-sonata-de-vivaldi-en-una-biblioteca
  2. Cataldi, Benedetto, “World Premiere of Vivaldi’s Earliest Known Work,” BBC News, 7 February 2015. Electronic version, http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-31146354
  3. Alberge, Dalya, “Vivaldi’s Lost Masterpiece is Found in Library Archives,” The Guardian, 14 July 2012. Electronic version, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jul/15/orlando-furioso-vivaldi-1714-version

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Image attribution: Antonio Vivaldi by unknown painter, via http://www.scaramucciaensemble.com/en/new-discoveries-vivaldi-little-video/.  Apparently, the standard portrait of Vivaldi may not be him.  This was discovered in research by François Farges and Michel Ducastel-Delacroix, cited at http://www.scaramucciaensemble.com/en/new-discoveries-vivaldi-little-video/.


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Haiku Wednesday: New Songs from 1000 Years Ago

Medieval manuscript depicting musicians, from Boethius's book De Musica

A leaf from Boethius’s book De Musica

Underground rivers
Course in ancient passages
Undeterred by time.

Neumes flow on the page
In forgotten passages,
Unheard—until now.

Carefully the notes
Are traced and coaxed from hiding
To sound once again.

Flow and dance again,
River of sound, and so quench
Our thirst for knowledge.

After decades of work, University of Cambridge researcher Dr. Sam Barrett has made a breakthrough that has brought once silent neumes back to life.

Barrett has been studying and gathering as many manuscripts containing neumes as possible and assessing them in terms of musical performance and music setting practices of the neume era.

Of particular interest was a manuscript known as the Cambridge Songs. The 11th-century Cambridge Songs manuscript includes a setting of parts of a poem by the Roman philosopher Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. You can read it in English here.

But there was one problem.  There was a page missing from the manuscript.

By chance, the page was rediscovered in Frankfurt.  A scholar had cut out the page in 1840 and taken it home.  This page was a tipping point in the research.  It made it possible to reconstruct the songs.  You can read the University of Cambridge article on the discovery here.  Here is the page.

Leaf from the Cambridge Songs manuscript containing The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius with neumes

Leaf from the Cambridge Songs manuscript containing The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius with neumes

Barrett partnered with Benjamin Bagby of the group Sequentia to test whether interpretations of the neumes were feasible given the limitations imposed by instruments of the time, as well as by human hands and voice.

You may not be hearing on the radio anytime soon, but you can hear an excerpt of The Consolation of Philosophy here now.  You can follow the words using the manuscript.

References

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/first-performance-in-1000-years-lost-songs-from-the-middle-ages-are-brought-back-to-life-0

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Image attribution

A page from Boethius’s De musica.  Manuscript of the University of Cambridge (MS Ii.3.12, ff.73v-74).  http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Newsletters/nl36/


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Newly Rediscovered Telemann Viola da Gamba Fantasias Score, Recording Now Available

Telemann

Viola da gamba enthusiasts, this is your lucky day!

Over the weekend, Thomas Fritzsch, who rediscovered the lost Telemann solo viola da gamba fantasias, performed them at the annual Telemann conference in Magdeburg, Germany.  The score and CDs were available for sale at the performance.

Couldn’t make it to Magdeburg?  I’m here to help.

Here is a website where the Telemann score can be purchased.  You can see a sample page of the new edition and a sample page of a “complete facsimile” edition there.  Here is another source for the Telemann score.

The publisher’s page has a link for CDs, but it brings you back to the page for the score.  I’m guessing CDs will be available there at some point.  I couldn’t find physical CDs elsewhere at this time.

Can’t wait?  Amazon has an MP3 album available now. So does iTunes (a search for “Telemann Fritzsch” will take you right there).

Short on cash?  You can hear it on Spotify.  Check your favorite music streaming service for availability.

So tell a friend–Telemann is back!

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Image attribution:  Georg Philipp Telemann, watercolor by Valentin Daniel Preisler [Public domain], after a lost painting by Ludwig Michael Schneider (1750), via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATelemann.jpg


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Manuscript of Earliest English Secular Song Found

Manuscript of song Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Rawlinson Collection, MS. Rawl. G 22 via earlymusicmuse.com.

A manuscript of what is now considered the earliest English secular song was found some time ago in an unexpected place.  The name of this song is Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast.  Here’s the story.  Someone wrote out this English song and two other French songs and stuck the sheets of paper in the front of a book of psalms.  The paper dates from the first half of the 13th century.

Whoa.  That’s over 760 years ago!

The other contender for earliest English secular song had been Sumer is Icumen In.  This manuscript predates it.

Ian Pittaway has written a fantastic blog post on Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast.  He provides great detail on the song’s significance and structure.

Here is Ian Pittaway performing Mirie It Is.

 

 

 

References

http://earlymusicmuse.com/mirie-it-is-while-sumer-ilast/

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Image attribution:  Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Rawlinson Collection, MS. Rawl. G. 22 via earlymusicmuse.com.


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Hear the Mozart-Salieri Cantata!

Recently I told you about the discovery of a cantata co-written by Mozart and Salieri.

The piece was performed on a harpsichord at the Czech Museum of Music in Prague.  The video was released yesterday.  The author of each section of the piece is displayed before it is played.