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Friday, January 20, 2012

A fictional hooplah over a Brahms Premier: updated 1/28/12


Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of articles concerning a "newly discovered" piano work by the great German Romantic composer Johannes Brahms.  Most of the articles mentioned how conductor and musicologist Christopher Hogwood "discovered" the piece at the Princeton University library.  In fact the "discovery" was made by the auction house, Doyle's of New York City, where the album was sold last year, lot 228 in their April 20th sale.  The album described as, "Album Amicorum of Arnold Wehner", contained a wide variety of musical quotations from important composers and musicians of the period, Brahms being one.  I viewed the item myself at the preview and was quite impressed with the album and the care and detail which went into cataloging the book.   The listing within the catalog, carefully researched and vetted by the Brahms Society was as follows:

The Brahms quotation is an early and partly different version of the middle section Trio D from the Scherzo/second movement of Brahms' Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano op. 40, completely composed in 1865. The section is transposed from a Minor to a flat Minor. It seems likely that this was written in June of 1853, when the twenty year old Brahms and his friend Ede were in Gottingen (arriving June 4).

(Ede would be Edouard Remenyi the Hungarian virtuoso violinist who "discovered Brahms" and took him on tour as his piano accompanist.  Later Brahms would write his Hungarian Dances which were influenced by these tours with Remenyi.)

Doyle Catalog Listing Mentioning Unpublished Brahms Work

At the time the catalog was published, Edward Ripley-Duggan, the head of the rare book department at Doyle's was very aware they had an unpublished "manuscript" on their hands and in fact at one point had planned a premier of the piece at the auction, but as the auction was a long one, he had to scrap the idea. 

The Guardian Newspaper wrote the following about this piece this past week and the BBC Broadcast how Hogwood "discovered" the piece:



The media in Britain which was picked up by AP makes it appear as if Hogwood made this discovery himself, a work which had already been identified by the Brahms Society as unpublished and complete specifics had been included in the listing when the item was sold.  My intelligence has informed me that Hogwood was presented with the album while visiting the Princeton home of William Scheide and was specifically shown the page with the information from the auction house.  It is also interesting to note, that a hastily arranged premier was made yesterday in Princeton and broadcast live on their radio station, WPRB yesterday, so that the BBC "premier" on the 21st would not be the first aired.  

Please see the Youtube link below.



End story is I heartily applaud the fact that this premier was made.  It is a lovely piece, quite haunting and it fully deserved an airing and I give a standing ovation to Bill Scheide for allowing it to happen.  However, the British media story which surrounds the discovery of the piece and has gone 'round the World while Romantic and reads like a miniature Dan Brown piece of fiction should be followed up by the media now that the facts are known.


Update:  The first performance and World Premier was given by Jakob Haschildt at a Brahms conference in Kiel Germany on October 8th, 2011.  At the same time a paper was delivered about the piece and an article appears in the Spring 2011 edition of the American Brahms Society Newsletter.  Further, a recording was made of the World Premier performance which will be released with the Brahms Gesellschaft's annual journal.  Please see the details below from Nigel Simione which we have further verified as complete and accurate.

Update 1/28/12: For those who wish to have the printed sheet music for the Album Leaf, please click the link below and you will be directed to the site pianostreet.com where you can do just that for free!
Print the sheet music here!

9 comments:

  1. You're right about a lot of this. The manuscript was identified by Michael Struck of the Neue Brahms Gesamtausgabe when Doyle's asked him to do so, and the first known performance - as far as I am aware - was given by Struck's colleague Jakob Hauschildt during the Conference of the German Gesellschaft für Musikforschung at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel on 8 October 2011, when Katharina Loose (also of the Neue Brahms Gesamtausgabe) gave a paper on the piece. George Bozarth published an article about the piece in the American Brahms Society Newsletter, Vol. XXIX, Number 1, Spring 2011, p. 9.

    Hope that helps!

    Best wishes, Nigel

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    1. Thanks Nigel for filling in the dots on the true premier. I will add the quote to the addendum above.

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  2. Thanks for your very interesting blog - glad to fill in a few details! I've only just discovered it (thanks to Norman Lebrecht's blog which linked your excellent post about the Brahms piece, which I'm not going to call a "discovery"...

    Incidentally, I understand that Hauschildt's performance from October 2011 will be included on a CD when the annual volume of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung is published, with Katharine Loose's article. Best wishes. N

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  3. Hi, just discovered your blog via Norman Lebrecht's post on the Brahms manuscript (and my friend Michael Lorenz, who posted a link to your blog in a comment to my Google+ post about the manuscript and Lebrecht's post).

    Thanks for the excellent and useful clarification. I'm looking forward to reading others on your blog.

    I tried to subscribe to your blog in Google Reader just now, but something peculiar is going on. In subscribing to oldmusicautographs.blogspot.com, the most recent post that shows up in Google Reader is "America's Original Rock Stars on Tour; a Book Recommendation" from 11 January (which looks like a great recommendation, by the way; I didn't know the book).

    And when I click on the title of that post in Google Reader, it takes me to a page saying "Blog not found," and offering to let me use the name "musicantiquarian" for my own blog.

    I've tried subscribing and unsubscribing a couple of times, in different ways, and it ends up with the same problem every time.

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  4. I think you have to subscribe using, oldmusicautographs.blogspot.com. Please advise if that does not work!

    Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated!

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  5. I have the same subccribe problem as Dexter. Doesn't matter whether I put in the address directly as recommended in the above comment or use the subscribe buttons on the right. Either way the newest post that shows up is from Jan 11.

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  6. Working now with Google to fix the problem.

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  7. Hello! I am currently working on a project about musical autograph albums of the 19th century. I was interested if you know much about these albums that were present in Europe through the century and any history behind them. Also, do you know to whose collection the Arnold Wehner album was sold and if it's available to view and look at? I would in the least love to know the record of composers in the album and when they dated their entries. (I see that you mentioned Bill Scheide... it wouldn't be in his extensive collection just donated to Princeton, would it?)

    Thanks so much!!

    Kristin

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  8. Yes Kristin, that would be part of the Scheide legacy at Princeton.

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