Monday, May 21st, 2012...9:30 am
Share and Share Alike
One of my greatest pleasures in cataloging is to pick up an unidentified work, wave my magic wand, and end up with a verified attribution and full access to a hitherto inaccessible item. Cataloging of this kind is becoming easier to undertake as technology improves our access to information. Many’s the time I’ve Googled an aria phrase from an unidentified 18th century manuscript, in hopes of locating a libretto and finding a place to begin my research, or compared a work in hand to an Amazon. com recording sample!
We also receive outside reference queries requesting the verification of various mystery items, and a recent cooperative endeavor with Library of Congress Senior Music Cataloger Sharon McKinley resulted in a positive identification. Ahhh, satisfaction! To read her story, please consult the Cataloger’s Corner on In The Muse, LC’s performing arts blog.
Their copy highlights another interesting part of the question: without title page or plate numbers, can we date it? At this time, publishers routinely went out of business or sold the publishing rights to individual works. This particular score was first published by Le Duc, with a plate number of 127. Some 10-15 years later, we see that Sieber is publishing the same piece, clearly using the same title page (with some additions, and a simple cancel slip covering the original Le Duc imprint) but with a plate number of 321 on the music. Some pages of the Sieber imprint show that the original larger plate number of 127 was scraped out; at least for these pages we can see that Sieber simply re-used the original Le Duc plates. Would a magnifying glass reveal vestiges of either plate number on the Library of Congress copy? There’s no compelling reason to examine them unless we suspect that with a new engraved plate, new music was also added. Was Telemaque performed again after its original 1790 performance at the Paris Opéra? Were some new details of the performance reflected in a new printing? Now that Ms. McKinley has identified the Library of Congress copy, Krasinsky scholars will be able to examine all of copies together. Inquiring minds want to know!
[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]