9 Female Composers from 3 Centuries

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Some time ago I reviewed Wiener Urtext Edition’s Urtext Primo series of six books, each bringing together the music of three composers whose careers overlapped, two well known, the third less performed today. You can read my series review here.

These are serious editions suitable for late intermediate to early advanced players who want to explore key repertoire in a broader musical context, and some of the adult learners I work with have certainly found them rewarding.

Wiener Urtext now bring a seventh volume to the series. 9 Female Composers from 3 Centuries has a self-explanatory title, and is a natural expansion of a series that already shines a spotlight on the music of overlooked composers of the past. This latest collection offers authoritative new editions of 25 pieces, as always edited and with practice tips by Nils Franke.

There has of course been a spate of new collections of music composed by women composers, all of which I have praised in reviews here, and which between them have nicely filled a gap in our repertoire and historical understanding.

I am told these books have only been a modest success, however, which raises intriguing questions about whether publishing agendas and perceptions of the market match the unaffected musical appetites of players. As I look at this new collection let’s not only consider the intrinsic value of the publication itself, but whether and what it can add to this increasingly crowded market…

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Schumann’s Three Romances

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Schumann’s Romanze in F sharp Op.28 No.2 is one of my absolute favourite pieces to play, and with its inclusion on the ABRSM Grade 8 syllabus over the last couple of years it has also featured more prominently in my teaching. This truly beautiful paean to love is surely one of the highlights of the nineteenth century repertoire, and is understandably cherished the world over.

That said, many struggle to read the score accurately, which in most editions is compressed to two pages, dense with accidentals, counterpoint and three-stave passages.

A welcome solution has arrived with a new edition from Wiener Urtext Edition, who have generously afforded the piece four pages (including one page turn). Playing the piece using this version has proved for me a boon, the notation a model of clarity.

The other two Romances also appear more inviting here, freshly edited by Michael Beiche and with fingerings and notes on interpretation by Tobias Koch. So let’s take a closer look…

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The Greatest Schumann?

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In a grand publishing milestone, Breitkopf & Härtel have reissued in seven volumes Robert Schumann’s complete piano works in the edition prepared by his widow Clara Schumann, and later updated with additional fingerings by the legendary pianist Wilhelm Kempff

Let’s dig straight into the fascinating history of this one ….

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