Happy Birthday Schott Music!

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Schott Music have celebrated their 250th Anniversary Year in style, with a number of special publications to commemorate their history.

I have already reviewed the brilliant Joy of Music collection for piano (and you can read my review here) and I’m equally excited about Happy Birthday Schott Music, a new collection of 10 ‘piano-bar’ arrangements of well-known Schott melodies by the indefatigable Carsten Gerlitz.

Gerlitz’s arrangements for piano and choral music have been published in more than 250 books, including dozens in Schott Music’s Schott Piano Lounge series, which this collection joins…

Schott’s Piano Lounge

Having not addressed this series here before, here’s an overview of the concept…

Each slim, staple-bound book in the series is superbly presented, and features a careful selection (albeit with the German market primarily in mind) of a dozen or so pieces around a particular theme: Pop Ballads, Movie Classics, Jazz Standards, Love Ballads, Beatles Classics and so on.

Gerlitz’s arrangements are perhaps best described as “easy listening”, versions of the songs which would find a warm welcome in a hotel or department store lobby, piano bar or society function. They are enjoyable to play, lie well under the fingers, avoid big stretches and over-ambitious chords, and would suit players at the top end of intermediate level (around UK Grade 5).

With that in mind it should however be noted that neither fingering nor pedalling indications are given in the publications, outstanding though they are.

Adding to their value, on the other hand, jazz chord symbols appear throughout, supporting those who prefer to use them whether as their main notation or as a means to further embellishing the written out arrangements (as Gerlitz himself sometimes does on his recordings).

Speaking of these recordings, the Schott Piano Lounge books include audio downloads from the company’s website, accessed either using a voucher code or by following the QR link. These are tastefully produced, featuring the piano with added bass and occasional string backing.

Happy Birthday Schott Music!

Joining this well-established and popular series, Happy Birthday Schott Music takes as its jumping-off point the classical catalogue of its esteemed publisher, delivering 10 new arrangements of favourites originally published by Schott:

  1. Ludwig Van Beethoven: Ode an dei Freude (Ode to Joy)
  2. Carl Orff: In Trutina from Carmina Burana
  3. Fritz Kreisler: Liebeslied
  4. Carl Orff: Gassenhauer
  5. Edward Elgar: Salut d’amour
  6. Richard Wagner: Siegmunds Liebeslied
  7. Kurt Noack: Heinzelmännchens Wachtparade
  8. Bach/Gounod: Ave Maria
  9. Mikis Theodorakis: Zorbas Dance
  10. Engelbert Humperdinck: Abendsegen (Evening Prayer)

The notion of creating ‘piano-bar’ arrangements of such iconic treasures will inevitably not appeal to all, but to those who dig the concept Gerlitz’s versions can be recommended unequivocally. I found them enormously enjoyable to play, delivering fresh and entertaining takes on these well-known melodies.

While each of these pieces is a delightful artifice, special mention must be made of Orff’s In Trutina, a piece I honestly never expected to encounter in such piano-bar apparel but which proves to be an absolutely delicious confection in this guise.

Closing Thoughts

Happy Birthday Schott Music is an enjoyable and clever celebration of the Schott catalogue, offering versions of these pieces which will be accessible to a wide audience of amateur pianists (cocktail or otherwise) and will delight listeners with their combination of easy going stylings and recognisable melodies.

And as a reminder of the immense value of the Schott archives, alongside their obviously more serious Joy of Music publication of virtuoso pieces, the publishers should be congratulated for a worthy and truly joyous celebration of their 250 years at the forefront of music publishing.

Here’s the the next 250 years…

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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.