Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Brahmsian News

You heard it here first: an exciting new Brahms project, slated for completion this summer, to be published by CIC.

For over a hundred years, Brahms's final opus, the beautiful Eleven Chorale Preludes for Organ (Op. 122), has inspired both admiration and curiosity. George Bozarth, Barbara Owen, and other musicologists have opined that Brahms actually intended Fourteen Chorale Preludes, divided into two groups of seven.

The order of the first seven in Brahms's manuscript is 1, 5, 2, 6, 7, 3, 4. Clearly, the current No. 11 would be No. 14. That leaves Nos. 8, 9, and 10. What would comprise the missing three?

The splendid Prelude and Fugue on O Traurigkeit (WoO 7) spring to mind. But that still gives us only 13.

Rumor has it that Brahms sketched a few measures of a canonic treatment of Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen. We know that several of Op. 122 are revisions of earlier works. We know also that Brahms and Joachim liked to write canons, during the great days when Schumann was still among the living.

In this spirit, CIC is preparing the very first edition of "Brahms's Vierzehn Choralvorspiele (Fourteen Chorale Preludes), Op. 122a." Set I will consist of Nos. 1-7 (in the afore-mentioned order). Set II will include (in a yet-to-be-determined order), Nos. 8-11, O Traurigkeit, and Yours Truly's own canonic treatment of Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen, in a Brahmsian harmonic language but with the canonic technique employed by Schumann in his Six Studies for Pedal Piano, Op. 56

This exciting publication will be available on or before September 1st.