Schott’s ‘Joy of Music’

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Schott Music is one of the world’s oldest and most revered music publishers, with a back catalogue that includes first editions of some of the greatest compositions in the history of Western Music.

Founded in 1770 by Bernhard Schott in Mainz, the distinguished publishing house celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2020, and Pianodao joins the music-loving community in congratulating them on this brilliant milestone.

Schott have themselves released a few new publications in which they celebrate their heritage, two of which I am now reviewing. Carsten Gerlitz’s Happy Birthday Schott Music will be reviewed separately, and in this article I will be looking at The Joy of Music: Discoveries from the Schott Archives, a collection of virtuoso and entertaining pieces of piano music for advanced players.

As Schott explain:

“To mark this anniversary, the Schott publishing house has dug up and reedited treasures from its historical publishing archives.”

Let’s lift the lid and see what’s inside this treasure chest….

A Fabulous Souvenir

The first thing to say about the book itself is that it has been excellently produced. Printed on 148 quality cream-coloured pages, the book appears in a durable laminated card cover, with an abstract illustration that cleverly evokes images of the orchestra, the concert hall, of sound waves and of the universe itself:

I should mention in passing that this volume is one of a series which also includes albums for flute, clarinet, violin and cello, all sharing a similar presentation and ethic.

Any thoughts that such a stiff slide book might be easy to break, or difficult to use for performing, are quickly dispelled by close inspection, which reveals the pages within are stitched and that the book comfortably stays open on the music stand with minimal persuasion.

The scores within are newly edited and engraved to the highest standards. As editors Wilhelm Ohmen and Robert Schäfer explain in their short Preface,

“This new edition of often long neglected works is based as far as possible on the first editions by Schott. Original fingering have been adopted where given. Evident oversights or inconsistencies have been corrected without comment.”

The clarity of the notation is exceptional. As for fingerings, clearly the first editions of most works included little or none, but we can trust these as absolutely authoritative scores, as scholarly sound as they are suitable as performance editions.

Of significant value, the rear of the book includes three pages of detailed introductions to each of the book’s fifteen pieces, revealing details of their musical background and historical value.

I suspect that some will want to purchase this edition not least to express their gratitude to Schott, and as such they will be rewarded with a fabulous and lasting souvenir. But for those who are eager to discover, learn and perhaps perform this music, let’s cut to the chase and find out what the deep and revered Schott archives have yielded…

15 Forgotten Masterpieces

According to the editors,

“This collection is intended for professional musicians, proficient amateurs and advanced students who with to discover interesting material beyond the standard repertoire. The volume chiefly focuses on works from the Romantic era: virtuoso encore pieces, showpieces, salon gems, expressive character pieces and skilful arrangements of well-known melodies from operas and concertos…
Most of the pieces are demanding and require advanced piano technique.”

Here’s the list you’ve been so patient in waiting for:

  1. Ludwig Van Beethoven:
    24 Variations on ‘l’Ariette Venni Amore par Righini’ WoO 65
  2. Carl Czerny (1791–1857):
    Le Désir op. 604/2
  3. Henri Herz (1803–1888):
    Variations brillantes sur la Cavatine de l’opéra Cenerentola de Rossini op. 60
  4. Ferdinand Beyer (1803–1863):
    Nocturne op. 81
  5. Friedrich Burgmüller (1806–1874):
    Grande valse de salon sur Le pardon de Ploërmel de Meyerbeer
  6. Franz Liszt (1811–1886):
    La Danza. Tarantella Napoletana
  7. Sigismund Thalberg (1812–1871):
    Home! Sweet Home! Air anglais varié op. 72
  8. Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888):
    Le Chemin de Fer. Étude op. 27
  9. Charles Gounod (1818–1893):
    Méditation sur le 1er Prélude de J. S. Bach
  10. Julius Schulhoff (1825–1898):
    Feuille d’Album
  11. Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–1869):
    Le Banjo. Esquisse américaine op. 15
  12. Carl Tausig (1841–1871):
    Siegmunds Liebesgesang aus der Walküre von Richard Wagner
  13. Giovanni Sgambati (1841–1914):
    Mélodie de Gluck
  14. Moritz Moszkowski (1854–1925):
    Tarentelle op. 77/6
  15. Edward Elgar (1857–1934):
    Salut d’amour op. 12

There are undoubtedly some very significant finds here. Beyer’s substantial (ten page) Nocturne teases with a glimpse of the possibilities when a gifted composer develops the form and scope beyond the famous works of Chopin, while Czerny’s delightful Le Désir casts an altogether different impression of this prolific composer who is chiefly remembered for the digital duress of his technical exercises.

Friedrich Burgmüller is the same J.F.F. whose studies Opp.100, 105 and 109 are such a prized staple of the pedagogic repertoire; again we see another side to a largely overlooked musician, although his writing here is equal in appeal and charm to his evergreen pedagogy classics.

For drama turn to Alkan and Tausig, while spiritual elevation can be found in Gounod’s Méditation, better known as his Ave Maria. Joy indeed!

The contributions of Herz, Liszt, Thalberg and Gottschalk will occupy the most able virtuoso for several afternoons, while the Moszkowski and Schulhoff pieces offer welcome relief for the more modestly inclined, and are delightful melodic pieces.

Finally, Elgar’s delicious Salut d’amour, which seems a little out of place here given its huge popularity, but which offers a wonderful conclusion to the collection.

Closing Thoughts

Given Schott Music’s extraordinary heritage, it seems certain that the delights offered up by this volume barely scratch the surface of their deep archives. But they do so with aplomb, delivering an enticing and well balanced programme of enriching music ripe for discovery.

Schott’s Joy of Music will surely appeal to any advanced player looking for less familiar gems, delivering rarified treasures aplenty!

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Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is the author of HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC, published worldwide by Hal Leonard. He is a widely respected piano educator and published composer based on Milton Keynes UK.