Newly Digitized: Student Compositions by Charles Lefebvre

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

At the end of the academic year, as we finish writing exams and papers (and grading exams and papers), it seems like a good moment to take a look at two student compositions by Charles Lefebvre (1843-1917), each with corrections by Charles Gounod. Lefebvre began studying with Gounod in 1861, before entering Ambroise Thomas’s composition class at the Paris Conservatoire in the fall of 1863. He later recalled that,

“For me, the greatest influence Gounod exerted, at that time, was less the result of lessons, properly speaking, than of our frequent conversations, in which, responding to the work I submitted, the teacher elaborated on such and such a musical subject, such and such a point of technique or the history of our art, in the most illuminating speeches, often reinforced by examples drawn from the masters, which Gounod sang in his soft, uniquely charming voice, as I have never since heard them interpreted” (loosely translated from “La vie intime d’un grand musicien Charles Lefebvre,” 349).

The short, four-part Kyrie is the more extensively annotated of the two manuscripts. On reading Gounod’s corrections of repetitive and chromatic intervals, music theory students will probably sympathize with Lefebvre, or at least recall their own early attempts at counterpoint. His final note is encouraging, though: “There’s enormous progress: it’s much better, and except for some violations of the proper style for this genre, it’s got the appropriate character.”

Manuscript of Lefebvre's Kyrie eleison, with corrections by Gounod

Manuscript of Lefebvre’s Kyrie eleison, with corrections by Gounod, Mus 735.386.575

The second piece, the duet “Segui, o cara,” became Lefebvre’s first published composition. The manuscript, titled “Duetto italien” and dated January of 1863, has a few corrections to the Andante; the Allegretto that originally ended the work is completely crossed out, although it’s unclear whether the abridgment was made by Lefebvre or his teacher. Gounod’s comments, though less extensive, are even more congratulatory: “Good music! First rate!”

Handwritten congratulations by Gounod, on Lefebvre's "Duetto italien," Mus 735.386.571

Congratulations by Gounod, on Lefebvre’s “Duetto italien,” Mus 735.386.571

  • Duetto italien : soprano et baryton / Ch. Lefebvre. 1863.
    “Segui, o cara”
    Mus 735.386.571

After unsuccessful attempts at the Prix de Rome in the 1860s, Lefebvre won the prize in 1870, for the cantata Le Jugement de Dieu. His musical output ranged across many genres, from opera to solo and four-hand piano pieces, but while he was generally well-regarded during his lifetime he remained only mildly successful as a composer. Lefebvre taught the Conservatoire’s chamber music class from 1895. For an overview of his musical career to 1896, when he was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, see Hugues Imbert’s Profils d’artistes contemporains.

-Kerry Masteller


Newly Digitized: Early 19th Century Opera

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

This set of recently digitized scores takes us to Paris of the late 1820s and 1830s to view the beginnings of grand opera as a genre, with spectacular works by Spontini, Auber, and Rossini. Along the way, we’ll take note of the signs these particular scores hold of their lives as objects, both commemorative and commodified.

Gaspare Spontini, 1774-1851

Spontini’s last major Parisian work premiered at the Opéra in 1819 to unfavorable reviews, and was withdrawn after only seven performances. As was typical of his compositional practice, he revised the opera extensively following its failed debut, replacing the first version’s tragic apotheosis with a triumphant, earthly coronation. After his move to Berlin in 1820, a German version was produced in 1821 at the Hofoper, with a libretto translated by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Further revisions followed, and a third, French version, reflected here, was revived at the Opéra in February of 1826.

Title page, Olimpie, Mus 813.2.615.5

Title page, Olimpie, Mus 813.2.615.5

  • [Olimpie. Vocal score]
    Olimpie : tragédie lyrique en trois actes / imitée de Voltaire ; paroles de MMr.s Dieulafoi et Brifaut ; mise en musique par Gaspard Spontini ; réduite pour le piano. Paris : Melles. Erard, [1827?].
    Mus 813.2.615.5

D. F. E. (Daniel François Esprit) Auber, 1782-1871

Auber’s La Muette de Portici, the prototypical grand opera, premiered in February of 1828 at the Opéra and received 500+ performances over the next decades.

Clipping from Le Monde Illustré, 29 Novembre 1862

Clipping from Le Monde Illustré, 29 Novembre 1862

This copy includes a clipping from the November 29, 1862 issue of Le Monde Illustré, illustrating a dreadful onstage accident: Emma Livry, dancing the pantomime role of Fenella, was seriously burned when her costume brushed a gaslight and caught fire during a rehearsal. She died from her injuries eight months later, in July of 1863. Stage lighting was particularly dangerous for dancers, and similar accidents were not uncommon: while French law required costumes and props to be flame-retardant, many ballerinas, including Livry, objected to the way the chemicals stiffened their costumes.

  • [Muette de Portici. Vocal score].
    La muette de Portici : opéra en cinq actes avec accompt. de piano-forte / musique de D. F. E. Auber. [1st ed.] Paris : L. Troupenas, [1829?].
    Mus 621.1.626

Giaocchino Rossini, 1792-1868

Rossini declined to produce Mosè in Egitto at the Théâtre Italien, revising it instead for the Opéra – with fewer arias and less extravagant vocal lines – as Moïse (1827). He composed only two more operas: Le comte Ory, a partial revision of his first Parisian work, 1825’s Il viaggio a Reims, and Guillaume Tell (1829), another landmark of the grand opera repertory.

Lemoine circulating library notice, ca. 1885, on the cover of Mosè in Egitto, Mus 795.1.612.3

Lemoine circulating library notice, ca. 1885, on the cover of Mosè in Egitto, Mus 795.1.612.3

The first score of Mosè in Egitto shown was once part of an abonnement de musique, or music circulating library. These subscription libraries allowed the musical public to play through many more pieces of music than they could have afforded to buy, while publishers (and others) could run them as a side business. For a monthly or yearly fee, subscribers were permitted to borrow a number of scores per week: in this case, 8 pieces plus an operatic vocal score or piano arrangement. They were cautioned not to lose, damage, or write in the scores they borrowed, and at least in this case, the warnings appear to have worked fairly well. Although the binding shows obvious wear and the pages have some water damage, this edition from the early 1820s remained in good enough condition to be held by Lemoine & Cie.’s circulating library in the mid-1880s (date based on the company name and address).

(For a recent survey of French circulating libraries, see Anita Breckbill and Carole Goebes’s 2007 article “Music Circulating Libraries in France: An Overview and a Preliminary List”.)

  • [Mosè in Egitto. Vocal score]
    Mosè in Egitto : azione tragico-sacra / poesia del signor Andrea Leone Tottola ; musica del signor Gioachino [sic] Rossini ; ridotta per il cembalo dal signor F. Herold. Paris : Boieldieu jeune [1822?].
    Mus 791.1.612.3
    Italian version in 3 acts, including the act 3 prayer “Dal tuo stellato soglio.”
  • [Mosè in Egitto. Vocal score]
    Mosè in Egitto : oratorio in tre atti / posta in musica e ridotto per il piano forte da Rossini, le 25 Mai 1841. Paris : Marquerie Frères, 1841.
    Mus 795.1.612.5
    Italian version in 3 acts, including the act 3 prayer “Dal tuo stellato soglio.”
  • [Comte Ory. Vocal score]
    Le comte Ory : opéra en deux actes avec accomp[agnamen]t de piano forte / musique de G. Rossini. Paris : E. Troupenas, [1828?].
    Merritt Room Mus 795.1.635.1
  • [Guillaume Tell. Vocal score]
    Guillaume Tell : opera en quatre actes / paroles de MM. Jouy & Hypolite Bis ; musique de G. Rossini ; avec accompagnem[en]t de piano par L. Niedermeyer. [1st ed., 1st issue]. Paris : E. Troupenas, [1829].
    Merritt Room Mus 795.1.673.5
  • -Kerry Masteller


Newly Digitized: Schubert First & Early Editions

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, one of the Music Library’s ongoing projects has been built around first and early editions from the Packard Humanities Institute Music Collection, which includes the world’s largest collection of Schubert first editions outside of Vienna. Here are seven more scores from the collection:

Merritt Mus 800.1.722.5 PHI A, earliest state of title page

Merritt Mus 800.1.722.5 PHI A, earliest state of title page

Franz Schubert, 1797-1828

  • [Songs. Selections]
    Hektors Abschied ; Emma ; Des Mädchens Klage / Gedichte von Fried. von Schiller ; in Musik gesetzt für eine Singstimme mit Pianoforte Begleitung von Franz Schubert ; 56tes [that is, 58tes] Werk. Wien : Thad. Weigl, [1826].

  • [Songs. Selections]
    Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren / von J. Mayrhofer. Der Wanderer / von A. W. Schlegel. Aus Heliopolis / von J. Mayrhofer ; in Musick gesetzt für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte von Franz Schubert ; 65tes Werk. Wien : bey Cappi und Czerny, [1826].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.745.5 PHI
  • Gretchen am Spinnrade
    Gretchen am Spinnrade : 2tes Werk / aus Goethe’s Faust ; in Musik gesetzt und dem Hochgebohrnen Herrn Herrn Moritz Reichsgrafen von Fries … ehrfurchtsvoll gewidmet von Franz Schubert. Wien : Cappi und Diabelli, [1822?].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.751.5 PHI
    First edition, second issue, with imprint of A. Diabelli and plate number added.
  • [Songs. Selections]
    Die abgeblühte Linde ; Der Flug der Zeit / vom Grafen Ludwig von Széchényi. Der Tod und das Mädchen / von Claudius ; für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Piano-forte, 7tes Werk ; in Musik gesetzt von Franz Schubert. [1st ed.] Wien : Cappi und Diabelli, 1823.
    Merritt Mus 800.1.754 PHI
  • [Songs. Selections]
    Der Jüngling auf dem Hügel : 8tes Werk / von Heinrich Hüttenbrenner ; Sehnsucht, Erlafsee und Am Strome von Mayrhofer ; für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Piano-Forte in Musik gesetzt, und dem hochgebohrnen Herrn Joh. Carl Grafen Esterhàzy von Galantha … gewidmet von Franz Schubert. [First ed.] Wien : Bey Cappi und Diabelli, [1822].
    Merritt Room Mus 800.1.758 PHI
  • [Songs. Selections]
    Der Schäfer u: der Reiter / von Friedr: B: de la Motte Fouquè. Lob der Thränen von A: W: von Schlegel. Der Alpenjäger von Joh: Maÿerhofer ; Für eine Singstim̄e mit Begleitung des Piano-Forte in Musik gesetzt, und seinem Fruende Jos. Edlen von Spaun … gewidmet von Franz Schubert ; 13tes Werk. Wien : bei A. Diabelli et Comp., [1822].
    Merritt Mus 800.1.762 PHI

-Kerry Masteller


Newly Digitized: Donizetti Vocal Scores

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

This selection of recently-digitized scores samples the library’s large collection of works by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), with operas spanning the late 1830s and 1840s, primarily composed for the Paris stage.

The exceptions are the Neapolitan operas L’assedio di Calais, premiered at San Carlo in 1836, and Poliuto/I Martiri, banned in Naples in 1838, and not premiered at San Carlo for another decade. The 4-act Parisian second version, Les Martyrs, is represented here by an Italian edition of the vocal score.

Also on the list, you’ll find Donizetti’s first opera composed specifically for Paris, Marino Falliero; the Italian opera buffa version of La Fille du Regiment, produced at La Scala with recitative rather than spoken dialogue; Rita (1841), posthumously produced in 1860; the first edition vocal score of La Favorite, arranged by Richard Wagner; the 1843 smash hit Don Pasquale; and Donizetti’s final opera, Dom Sébastien.

Frontispiece depicting Mme Stoltz (Léonor) and Mr. Duprez (Fernand) in the 4th act of La Favorite. Mus 647.1.671.7 B

Frontispiece depicting Mme Stoltz (Léonor) and Mr. Duprez (Fernand) in the 4th act of La Favorite. Mus 647.1.671.7 B

  • [Marino Faliero. Vocal score]
    Marino Falliero [sic] : tragedia lirica / del sigr. Bidèra ; posta in musica pel Teatro Reale Italiano in Parigi dal Maestro Cavaliere Gaetano Donizetti. Milano : G. Ricordi, [1836?].
    Mus 647.1.650 B
    Differs significantly from the Pacini ed.: includes Faliero’s cabaletta “Trema, o Steno,” and changes in Elena’s aria “Tutto or morte.”
  • [Assedio di Calais. Vocal Score]
    L’assedio di Calais : melodramma lirico in tre atti / poesia di Salvatore Cammarano ; musica del Mo. G. Donizetti ; riduzione del mo. L. Gervasi. Milano : G. Ricordi, [1854?].
    Merritt Room Mus 647.1.597
  • [Poliuto. Vocal Score]
    I martiri : tragedia lirica in 3 atti / poesia di S. Cammarano ; musica di Gaetano Donizetti. Paris : Schonenberger, [1840?].
    Mus 647.1.698 B.
    French synopsis from the Théâtre-Italien laid in.
  • [Poliuto. Vocal score]
    I martiri : opéra italien / musique de Donizetti. Paris : Schonenberger, [1845?].
    Mus 647.1.698.8
  • [Martyrs. Vocal score. Italian].
    Paolina e Poliuto : (I martiri) : opera in quattro atti / nuova versione dal francese di C. Bassi per scrivire alle scene Italiane ; musica del Maestro Cave. G. Donizetti ; riduz. per canto con accompo. di pianoforte des Mo. P. Tonassi. Milano : G. Ricordi, [1843?].
    Merritt Mus 647.1.697.5
  • [Fille du régiment. Vocal score. Italian]
    La figlia del reggimento : opéra italien / musique de Donizetti. Paris : Schonenberger, [between 1840 and 1899].
    Merritt Room Mus 647.1.665
    Italian version, with recitative
  • [Favorite. Vocal score.]
    La favorite : opera en quatre actes / paroles de MM. E. Scribe, Alph. Royer & Gust. Vaëz ; musique de G. Donizetti ; partition avec acct. de piano, arrangée par R. Wagner. [1st ed., 1st issue.] Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1841?].
    Mus 647.1.671.7 B
  • [Favorite. Vocal score. Italian].
    La favorita / musica del cave. Donizetti ; ridotta per piano forte solo dal mo. Luigi Truzzi. Milano : F. Lucca [1841].
    Merritt Mus 647.1.672.1
  • [Rita. Vocal score]
    Rita, ou, Le mari battu : opéra comique en un acte / poëme de Mr. Gustave Vaëz ; musique posthume de G. Donizetti; partition chant et piano arrangée par A. Bazille. Paris : H. Lemoine, [1860?].
    Mus 647.1.676.5
  • [Don Pasquale. Vocal score]
    Don Pasquale : opéra bouffe en trois actes / musique de G. Donizetti ; avec accompagt. de piano par Th. Labarre. Paris : Bureau de la France Musicale, [1843?].
    Mus 647.1.674.1
  • [Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal. Vocal score]
    Dom Sébastien de Portugal : opéra en 5 actes / Paroles de Mr. E. Scribe ; musique de G. Donizetti ; avec acct. de piano par Th. Labarre. Paris : Bureau Central de Musique, [1843?].
    Mus 647.1.637.5


-Kerry Masteller


Newly Digitized: Halévy Vocal Scores

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

We continue our digitization of 19th-century French opera with a set of vocal scores from the lengthy catalogue of Fromental Halévy (1799-1862). As a student of Cherubini at the Paris Conservatoire, Halévy twice won the second prize in the Prix de Rome, followed in 1819 by the premier prix. After his return to Paris, Halévy took a teaching position in the Conservatoire, where he was made professor in 1827.

Simultaneously, he held positions as chef du chant, first at the Théâtre-Italien (1826-1829), and then the Opéra (1829-1845). At the Opéra, Halévy managed budgets, rehearsal schedules, and some personnel, audition, and casting decisions in addition to his work directing the chorus; his influence helped to shape the sound and repertoire of the institution, and he was sometimes accused of promoting his operas at the expense of Donizetti and other composers (Hallman 2009, 40-43). While Halévy was surpassed in popularity on the grand opera stage by composers like Meyerbeer and Auber, his name was nonetheless familiar to the public: he contributed a stream of grand operas and opéras-comiques to the Paris scene from the late 1820s through the 1850s, to which the always-exuberant French musical press responded with reviews of the productions (sometimes positive, often tepid or even scathing), commentary on his place in the theatrical world, and gossip (displaying varying degrees of antisemitism).

Fromental Halévy, Title page, L’éclair, Mus 693.4.610.3

Fromental Halévy, hand-colored title page, L’éclair, Mus 693.4.610.3 (click to enlarge)

Included in this set of scores are Halévy’s only work for the Théâtre-Italien, Clari (1828), written for Maria Malibran, as well as four works for the Opéra-Comique: Le Dilettante d’Avignon (1829), La Langue Musicale (1830), L’Éclair (1835), and Le Guitarrero (1841). We have not yet digitized our copies of La Juive (1835), Halévy’s greatest success and first opera for the Académie Royale de Musique, but his compositions for the Opéra are represented by the grand operas Guido et Ginevra (1838), La Reine de Chypre (1841), Charles VI (1843) and Le Lazzarone (1844).

  • [Clari. Vocal score]
    Clary : opera semi seria / musica del Signor Maestro F. Halévy. Parigi, Richault [183-?].
    Merritt Room Mus 693.4.670
  • [Dilettante d’Avignon. Vocal score]
    Le dilettante d’Avignon : opéra comique en un acte / [paroles] de feu Hoffmann et Léon Halévy ; musique de F. Halévy. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1829?].
    Mus 693.4.607
  • [Langue musicale. Vocal score]
    La langue musicale : opéra en un acte / musique de F. Halévy ; paroles de Mr. Snt. Yves avec accompt. de piano par V. Rifaut. Paris : Schlesinger, [1830].
    Mus 693.4.607
  • [Éclair. Vocal score]
    L’eclair : opéra comique en trois actes / paroles de M.M. de Planard et de St. Georges ; musique de F. Halévy ; partition de piano arrangée par H. Potier. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1836].
    Mus 693.4.610.3
  • [Guido et Ginevra. Vocal score]
    Guido et Ginévra, ou, La peste de Florence : opéra en 5 actes / paroles de Mr. E. Scribe ; musique de F. Halévy ; avec accompagt. de piano par Ch. Schwencke. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1838?].
    Mus 693.4.616.3
  • [Guido et Ginevra. Vocal score]
    Guido et Ginévra : opéra en cinq actes / paroles de Mr. E. Scribe … ; musique de F. Halévy … ; partition de piano arrangée par Schwencke. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1838].
    Mus 693.4.616.5
  • [Le Guitarrero. Vocal score]
    Le guitarrero : opéra comique en 3 actes / paroles de Mr. E. Scribe ; musique de F. Halévy ; … avec accompt. de piano. Paris : Maurice Schlesinger, [1841?].
    Mus 693.4.617.5
  • [Reine de Chypre. Vocal score]
    La reine de Chypre : opéra en 5 actes / paroles de Mr. de St. Georges ; musique de F. Halévy ; partition avec acct. de piano, arrangée par R. Wagner. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1841?].
    Mus 693.4.646.1
  • [Charles VI. Vocal score]
    Charles VI : opéra en 5 actes / paroles de Mrs. Germain et Casimir Delavigne ; musique de F. Halévy ; partition avec acct. de piano, arrangée par Ch. Schwencke. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1843?].
    Mus 693.4.650.5
  • [Le Lazzarone. Vocal score]
    Le lazzarone : opéra en deux actes / paroles de mr. de St. Georges ; musique de F. Halévy ; partition avec acct. de piano. Paris : M. Schlesinger, [1844?].
    Mus 693.4.625

-Kerry Masteller

Further Reading

On Halévy’s career at the Opéra and his reception in the press, see Diana R. Hallman, “Fromental Halévy with the Paris Opéra: Composition and Control,” in Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris, 1830-1914, ed. Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 29-48. Loeb Music Library ML1727.8.P2 M85 2009

On the early development of Halévy’s compositional style, see Mark Everist, “Fromental Halévy: From Opéra Comique to Grand Opera,” in Giacomo Meyerbeer and Music Drama in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 215-240. Loeb Music Library ML1727.8.P2 .E929 2005

On Halévy’s grand operas, see Diana R. Hallman, “The grand operas of Fromental Halévy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera, ed. David Charlton (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003), 233-257. http://dx.doi.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/10.1017/CCOL9780521641180.014 (full text available to Harvard users)


Newly Digitized: Berlioz Vocal Scores

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

“It was Virgil who first found the way to my heart and opened my budding imagination, by speaking to me of the epic passions for which instinct had prepared me,” wrote Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), recalling his reluctant childhood studies of classics (Memoirs, trans. Cairns, 35). Once kindled, his enthusiasm for Vergil was life-long, and at the urging of Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, Berlioz began work in 1856 on an opera based on the second and fourth books of the Aeneid.

Hector Berlioz, Title page, La Prise de Troie. Merritt Room Mus 628.3.651.1 PHI

Hector Berlioz, Title page, La Prise de Troie. Merritt Room Mus 628.3.651.1 PHI (click to enlarge)

Berlioz conceived Les Troyens as one opera, but was forced to divide it into two parts for performance at the Théâtre-Lyrique when the Paris Opéra refused the work after years of delay (vividly recounted in his correspondence). As noted in the front matter of the vocal score, a full production without cuts would take 206 minutes to perform; with 15-minute intermissions, a 7:30 curtain meant the opera would finish 4 minutes before midnight, not allowing for applause and curtain calls (with substantial cuts, the run time could be reduced to a less daunting 140 minutes, or about 3 hours, 45 minutes total). Acts III-V, heavily cut and revised, premiered as Les Troyens à Carthage on November 4, 1863. La Prise de Troie (originally Acts I-II of Les Troyens) was not performed during Berlioz’s lifetime, and a staged production premiered only in 1890. The five-act Les Troyens was not staged until the 20th century, and an uncut version not until the centenary of Berlioz’s death in 1969.

Hector Berlioz, Title page, Les Troyens à Carthage . Merritt Room Mus 628.3.654 PHI

Hector Berlioz, Title page, Les Troyens à Carthage . Merritt Room Mus 628.3.654 PHI (click to enlarge)

In addition to autograph and copyist manuscripts, the original version of Les Troyens survives in a few proof and presentation scores dating to the early 1860s. Antoine Choudens published vocal scores of La Prise de Troie and Les Troyens in 1863, and in 1889 reassembled a complete Les Troyens from the plates engraved for those editions. Choudens’ numerous issues of Les Troyens à Carthage reflect the cuts and revisions made under Léon Carvalho’s direction for the Théâtre-Lyrique, a trial that Berlioz described with unconcealed disgust: “But oh, the agony of seeing a work of this kind laid out for sale with the scars of the publisher’s surgery upon it! A score lying dismembered in the window of a music shop like the carcass of a calf on a butcher’s stall, and pieces cut off and sold like lights for the concierge’s cat!” (Memoirs 491).

  • [Les Troyens. Vocal Score]
    Les Troyens : La Prise de Troie, 1er et 2e actes : Les Troyens à Carthage, 3e, 4e, et 5e actes. Paris: Choudens Fils, [1889?].
    Mus 628.3.651
    Hopkinson 64/65 A(a), related edition
  • [La Prise de Troie. Vocal score]
    La prise de Troie : opéra en trois actes / paroles et musique de Hector Berlioz. Paris : Choudens, [1864?].
    Merritt Room Mus 628.3.651.1 PHI
    Hopkinson 64B(b), second version, first edition, third state
  • [Troyens à Carthage. Vocal score]
    Les Troyens à Carthage : opéra en cinq actes avec un prologue / paroles et musique de Hector Berlioz. [Paris] : Choudens, [1863].
    Merritt Room Mus 628.3.654 PHI
    Hopkinson 65B(a), second version, second issue

Benvenuto Cellini, rejected by the Opéra-Comique, premiered at the Opéra in 1838 after a tumultuous rehearsal period. With the exception of the overture, the premiere was greeted by hissing of “exemplary precision and energy” (Memoirs 245). Never a huge success, the opera was subjected to extensive cuts and changes during its run; Franz Liszt’s Weimar revival in 1852 led to further changes, including a revision of the original two acts into three.

  • [Benvenuto Cellini. Vocal score]
    Benvenuto Cellini : opéra en trois actes / de m.m. Léon de Wailly et Auguste Barbier ; musique de Hector Berlioz ; partition chant et piano. Paris: Choudens, [1863].
    Merritt Room Mus 628.3.621 PHI
    Hopkinson 67E. Plate number A.C.989: first Paris edition, with piano arrangement by Hans von Bülow; lacking some recitatives

Béatrice et Bénédict‘s production history is comparatively simple: commissioned for the opening of the Theater der Stadt in Baden-Baden, the opera premiered August 9, 1862, with Berlioz conducting, and the vocal score was published in early 1863.

  • [Béatrice et Bénédict. Vocal score]
    Béatrice et Bénédict : opéra en deux actes / imité de Shakespeare ; paroles et musique de Hector Berlioz ; partition piano et chant. Paris : G. Brandus & S. Dufour, [1863].
    Mus 628.3.659.5
    Hopkinson 63A, first edition

-Kerry Masteller

Further Reading

Berlioz, Hector. Mémoires De Hector Berlioz: Comprenant Ses Voyages En Italie, En Allemagne, En Russie Et En Angleterre, 1803-1865, Avec Un Beau Portrait De L’auteur. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, 1870. (full text via Hathi Trust)

—. Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, member of the French Institute, including his travels in Italy, Germany, Russia, and England, 1803-1865. Translated and edited by David Cairns. New York: Knopf, 1969. Loeb Music Library Mus 1571.15.6

—. Memoirs, from 1803 to 1865, comprising his travels in Italy, Germany, Russia and England. Vol. 2. Translated by R. Holmes and E. Holmes. London: Macmillan, 1884. (full text via Google Books)

—. Les Troyens. Edited by Hugh McDonald. New edition of the complete works. Vol. 2(a-c). Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1970. Loeb Music Library Mus 628.3.10 (critical edition of the full score)



“As nearly perfect an opera as one is likely to find”: Solti’s Un Ballo in Maschera

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

“I love Ballo, which is as nearly perfect an opera as one is likely to find,” wrote Sir Georg Solti in his 1997 Memoirs. The conductor first performed the work as music director of the Frankfurt Opera in 1954, and six years later, Verdi’s masterful work served as Solti’s first operatic collaboration in the recording studio with soprano Birgit Nilsson, when he recorded the work with the Rome Opera in July of 1960 and 1961 (a project which began with tenor Jussi Bjoerling, but in the end enlisted the services of Carlo Bergonzi).

Un Ballo in Maschera rehearsal schedule (1982). Merritt Room Mus 857.2.679.7 Solti. Gift of the Solti Estate

Un Ballo in Maschera rehearsal schedule (1982). Merritt Room Mus 857.2.679.7 Solti. Gift of the Solti Estate. (Click to enlarge)

In May and June of 1982 (with further sessions in May 1983) Solti returned to the recording studio, this time at Kingsway Hall in London, to record the work a second time, with Margaret Price and Luciano Pavarotti. The orchestra for this second recording was the National Philharmonic, a studio orchestra of players assembled from London’s principal orchestras; no stage performances were associated with this cast. The rehearsal schedule which accompanies this conducting score indicates the day-to-day scheduling from May 25 to June 12 of 1982, in mainly afternoon (with some evening) sessions, including the pages rehearsed (Ricordi full and vocal scores) and timings. Solti performed the work complete, without cuts.

  • Verdi, Giuseppe
    [Ballo in Maschera]
    Un ballo in maschera / di G. Verdi. Milano: G. Ricordi, [1896?]. Merritt Room Mus 857.1.679.7 Solti.

    Rebound into 2 volumes with numerous annotations throughout in red and black pencil in Sir Georg Solti’s hand; rehearsal schedule (1 pg.) inserted.

    Gift of the Solti Estate.

Giuseppe Verdi, "Forse la soglia attinse," Un ballo in maschera. Merritt Mus 857.1.679.7 Solti. Gift of the Solti Estate.

Giuseppe Verdi, “Forse la soglia attinse,” Un ballo in maschera. Merritt Mus 857.1.679.7 Solti. Gift of the Solti Estate. (Click to enlarge)

Also noteworthy in this heavily annotated score are his markings in various “layers” of colored pencil. Lady Solti has cited his “keen desire to listen to playbacks of the takes of his recordings,” and Decca recording engineer Gordon Parry noted that Solti would “scribble in his scores in different colours, according to which [take].”1

The work figured prominently in Solti’s life one further time, in July of 1989, when, following the sudden death of Herbert von Karajan, he was called upon with only a week’s notice to conduct John Schlesinger’s new production at the Salzburg Festival. His initial refusal was overcome by Plácido Domingo, and in a riveting tale involving airlifting his score from his London apartment to his summer home in Roccamare, Italy, and the intervention of the commandant of the local NATO base near Salzburg who allowed a private plane, supplied by one of the Festival’s most devoted supporters, to land there, Solti’s “potentially unrewarding and risky task” was a success; he was invited to conduct the work again at the festival the following summer. Those were to be his final performances of Un Ballo in Maschera; though any conductor who can claim as his Riccardos, Carlo Bergonzi, Luciano Pavarotti, and Plácido Domingo can be justly proud of his achievement.

– Robert Dennis

1. Patmore, David N. C. “Sir Georg Solti and the Record industry,” ARSC Journal 41.2 (2010): 218, http://ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=503003138&site=ehost-live&scope=site (Harvard users).


Newly Digitized: Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

When we name composers associated with Freemasonry, Mozart is likely to top the list, thanks to his compositions for masonic ceremonies and the symbolism found in the libretto and music of Die Zauberflöte. Of course, many other composers – far too many to list here – were masons as well, and the tradition of writing songs, choruses, and incidental music for use in meetings and ceremonies is well-represented through the 18th and 19th centuries.

Title page vignette, Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge, Merritt Room Mus 558.5

Title page vignette, Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge, Merritt Room Mus 558.5 (click to enlarge)

  • Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge
    Auswahl maurerischer Gesænge / von verschiedenen Componisten ; herausgegeben von Friedrich Franz Hurka. [Germany : s.n., between 1803 and 1805].
    Merritt Room Mus 558.8

Friedrich Franz Hůrka (1762-1805), a Czech tenor, composer, and teacher, became a freemason in 1794, when he joined the Berlin lodge “Friedrich Wilhelm zur gekrönten Gerechtigkeit.” In this collection, dedicated to King George III’s son Augustus Frederick, Hůrka gathered nearly 70 songs and choruses on masonic themes by composers including Himmel, Pleyel, Naumann, and Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach. The title page vignette is rich in masonic iconography; note in particular the blazing star embossed with “G,” representing God, and the cherubs wielding stone-working tools and using a pair of compasses to measure the Pythagorean theorem.

-Kerry Masteller


Newly Digitized: Works by Johann Sebastian and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

In this update, we take a short break from 19th-century opera to share works by members of the Bach family: Johann Sebastian Bach’s organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 538 (“Dorian”), the 15 Inventions BWV 772-786 for keyboard, teaching pieces first set down in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, and the Sonatas for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019. Rounding out the list is Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Psalmen mit Melodien, Wq 196, a collection of 42 psalms with texts translated by Johann Andreas Cramer, published by the composer and printed by Breitkopf in 1774.1

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "Der Erste Psalm," Psalmen mit Melodien. Merritt Room Mus 627.2.584

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, “Der Erste Psalm,” Psalmen mit Melodien. Merritt Room Mus 627.2.584 (click to enlarge)

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750

  • [Toccata und Fuge, organ, BWV 538, D minor]
    Toccata et fugue pour l’orgue ou le piano-forte. No. II / composée par J.S. Bach. First ed. Leipzig : Au bureau de musique de C.F. Peters, [ca. 1829]. Merritt Room Mus 627.1.456.5
  • [Inventions, harpsichord, BWV 772-786]
    XV inventions pour le clavecin / composées par Mr. J.S. Bach. Nouvelle edition. À Leipsic : Au Bureau de Musique. de C.F. Peters., [ca. 1820?]. Merritt Room Mus 627.1.435.31
    Plates of the original [1801] Hoffmeister ed. were used for this revised edition.
  • [Sonatas, violin, harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019]
    Clavier Sonaten mit obligater Violine / von Johann Sebastian Bach. Zürich : Bëy Hans Gëorg Nägeli., [1804?]. Merritt Room Mus 627.1.283.4. RISM A/I, B 454

Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel, 1714-1788

  • [Psalmen mit Melodien]
    Herrn Doctor Cramers übersetzte Psalmen mit Melodien : zum singen bey dem Claviere / von Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Leipzig : Im Verlage des Autors, 1774. Merritt Room Mus 627.2.584. RISM A/I, B 0131

Find these and nearly 100 other works by members of the Bach family – including a set of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach copyists’ manuscripts – online in our collection of Digital Scores and Libretti.

-Kerry Masteller

1. For more about this collection, see Anja Morgenstern, introduction to Cramer and Sturm Songs, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, The Complete Works VI/2 (Los Altos, Calif: Packard Humanities Institute, 2009), http://www.cpebach.org/toc/toc-VI-2.html.


Newly Digitized: Spontini’s Fernand Cortez, in 2 versions

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Nearly two years ago, I shared a vocal score of Gaspare Spontini’s propagandistic Napoleonic-era opera Fernand Cortez (1809), a precursor of Auber’s La muette de Portici (1828) and the heights of 19th century grand opera. Joining it now are two other editions of the opera. The first is a full score of the original 1809 version, to a libretto by Joseph-Alphonse d’Esmenard and Etienne de Jouy. Premiered at the height of the Peninsular War, the opera portrays Cortez (or Napoleon) as enlightened hero, versus the savage Aztec (or Spanish) priests. The production was not an unqualified success, and despite its grand spectacle – in addition to dramatic, militaristic choruses and elaborate ballet sequences, a fully-staged production requires a number of live horses and includes a scene in which Cortez burns his own fleet – it was withdrawn after only a handful of performances.

[Fernand Cortez ou la conquête du Mexique : sept pl. de costumes / par François-Guillaume Ménageot]
Costume designs by François-Guillaume Ménageot (1809): Montesuma, Telasco, Amazily, Pontife mexicain. [Fernand Cortez ou la conquête du Mexique : sept pl. de costumes / par François-Guillaume Ménageot]. 1809
Source: gallica.bnf.fr (click for higher resolution image)

Even in 1809, as Napoleon’s Spanish campaign dragged on, Fernand Cortez was uncomfortably behind the political times; by 1816, a work celebrating a Napoleon-esque conqueror’s achievements was obviously out of style.1 In response, Spontini and Jouy made heavy revisions for the second version, changing the plot, characters, music, and dramatic structure of the opera. As Philipp Spitta’s lengthy article in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians describes, in the revival of May, 1817, “the 3rd act now became the 1st, the 1st act the 2nd, and a part of the 2nd the 3rd.”2 If anything, this simplifies the structural changes; Théodore de Lajarte provides a more detailed enumeration in Curiosités de l’Opéra (1883).3 Among numerous other revisions, the role of Montezuma is entirely new to the second version, and Spontini rewrote Cortez’s part (originally for haute-contre) for tenor or bari-tenor.

While the second version of Fernand Cortez enjoyed greater success, remaining a fixture of the repertoire through the early 1830s, Spontini made still more changes to the third act for Berlin productions in 1824 and 1832, this time with the assistance of the poet M. Théaulon (Marie-Emmanuel-Guillaume-Marguerite Théaulon de Lambert). The vocal score here, most likely published ca. 1830, probably reflects one of these later versions; although I haven’t yet compared the editions measure-to-measure, most notably it does not include the lengthy 3rd act ballet published in Erard’s 1817 full score (HOLLIS record).

  • Fernand Cortez
    Fernand Cortez; ou, La conquête du Mexique, tragédie lyrique en 3 actes, de De Jouy et Esmenard. Mise en musique par Gasparo Spontini. Représentée pour le première fois, sur le théâtre de l’Académie royale de musique, le 15, 28 novembre 1809. Paris : Imbault [1809?]. Mus 813.2.622
  • Fernand Cortez. Vocal score
    Fernand Cortez, ou, La conquête du Mexique : tragédie lyrique en 3 actes / de De Jouy et Esmènard ; mise en musique par G. Spontini. Nouv. éd. Paris : Melles. Erard, [1830?]. Mus 813.2.622.5

-Kerry Masteller

1. Note that while the opera had been commissioned by Napoleon and the 1809 edition is dedicated to his sister, Caroline Bonaparte, the later edition is prudently dedicated to the Comte de Pradel, who, as ministre de la Maison du Roi, had jurisdiction over the Opéra.

2. Phillipp Spitta, “Spontini, Gasparo Luigi Pacifico,” A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (A.D. 1450-1889), comp. George Grove (London: Macmillan, 1883), 3:669. http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006210888

3. Théodore de Lajarte, Curiosités de l’Opéra (Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1883), 175-183. http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001458669