Tag Archives: Composition

Musique contemporaine / Contemporary music

Founded in 2007 by a consortium of French and international institutions and ensembles, Musique contemporaine/Contemporary music is a bilingual search engine for contemporary art music resources held at French institutions. Users can listen to excerpts of unpublished sound archives of conferences and concerts and read the program notes for these events. A glossary (in French) defines the main concepts involved in contemporary music, and an interactive structural map provides links to glossary entries, composers’ biographies, work excerpts, and so on. Also included are an interactive tag cloud of the composers who are most referenced, a composers’ timeline, and an interactive map showing the main French contemporary music organizations and providing their addresses. Simple and advanced searching tools are available.

Comments Off on Musique contemporaine / Contemporary music

Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Resources

Mangled Mozart

Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail was first performed in London at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 24 November 1827. Stephanie’s libretto was translated into English and quite freely adapted, and one C. Kramer made numerous and inexplicable changes to the score, editing Mozart’s music, substituting his own numbers for some of the original ones, and adding entirely new numbers. None the wiser, audiences and critics received the mangled work with great enthusiasm.

This according to “The first performance of Mozart’s Entführung in London” by Alfred Einstein (1880–1952) in Essays on music (New York: W.W. Norton, 1956), a collection of his writings issued as a memorial volume; the book is covered in our recently published Liber Amicorum: Festschriften for music scholars and nonmusicians, 1840–1966.

Above, a nineteenth-century engraving depicting a production of the opera in London—perhaps the one that Einstein described. Below, Twyla Tharp and Milos Forman imagine the opera’s premiere in Amadeus.

Comments Off on Mangled Mozart

Filed under Classic era, Curiosities, Dramatic arts, Opera, Performance practice, Reception, Source studies

Petrucci Music Library

Founded in 2006, the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) hosts the Petrucci Music Library, a free wiki-based source for public-domain scores.

The library, which is named for the innovative music printer Ottaviano Petrucci (1466–1539), mainly comprises scans of music editions whose copyright has expired; it also welcomes scores by contemporary composers who are willing to license their works without charge.

Comments Off on Petrucci Music Library

Filed under Resources

Conceptual art meets musicology

Vitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid‘s The people’s choice music: The most wanted song/The most unwanted song (Dia Center for the Arts, 1997)  presents the results of a research project that used a questionnaire to determine the most desired and most undesired characteristics of popular songs. Two new songs—both composed by Dave Soldier, with lyrics by Nina Mankin—exemplify the poles of the questionnaire results.

The most wanted song is five minutes long and comprises a medium-sized group (guitar, piano, saxophone, bass, drums, violin, violoncello, synthesizer, and low male and female voices) perform­ing in a rock/R&B style. It narrates a love story and has a moderate tempo, volume, and pitch range. It will be enjoyed by approximately 72% of listeners.

The most unwanted song is 22 minutes long and features accordion and bagpipe (tied at 13% as the most unwanted instruments) along with banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, and synthesizer (the only instrument to appear in both ensembles). It involves an operatic soprano rapping and singing atonal music; advertising jingles, political slogans, and elevator music; a children’s choir singing jingles and holiday songs; and dramatic juxtapositions of loud and quiet sections, fast and slow tempos, and very high and very low pitches. Fewer than 200 individuals in the entire world will enjoy it.

Comments Off on Conceptual art meets musicology

Filed under Curiosities, Humor, Popular music

Mozart's flyswatter

Franz Niemetschek’s legendary report that La clemenza di Tito was composed in 18 days was not seriously challenged until 1960, when Tomislav Volek published important archival materials relating to the chronology of the opera’s composition. Physical evidence from the autograph manuscript, including the remains of a fly squashed on the paper (probably by the composer in the heat of August), contributes to discrediting the hypothesis that Mozart’s work had begun before he signed his July 1791 contract for the opera.

This according to “The chronology of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito reconsidered” by Sergio Durante (Music & letters, 80, no. 4 (Nov 1999): 560–594), where the evidence is described thus:

“On folio 114 of the autograph . . . a thick black spot in the shape of a cross is found. . . . On direct and close examination, the centre of the spot proves to host the remains of a fly (a kind of evidence not often found in music sources!). After a long reflection, my best guess is that the fly was smashed under the loose bifolium at the very time of composition, after it had unduly annoyed Mozart at work; he also provided a witty ‘service’ to the insect by marking a cross over it (‘requiescat’!); in any case, such was the force and determination of the action, combined with the gluing action of the ink, that the corpse is still stuck on the page after two hundred years of musicological investigations.” (p. 574)

Related articles:


Filed under Animals, Baroque era, Curiosities, Nature, Science, Source studies


Thanks to funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Magazine Fund, the SOCAN Foundation Publications Assistance Program, and the Canada Periodical FundMusicworks has been issuing articles, reviews, and scores focusing on Canadian music since 1978; since 1983, issues have included sound recordings as well. While Canadian composers and performers are most often featured, the magazine also covers Canadian traditional music in both native and non-native cultures.

Recently Musicworks sent us a full run of their back issues; now we are confident that all of their articles are fully covered by RILM.

Comments Off on Musicworks

Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Music magazines, RILM news

Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte der Musik

The German publisher Allitera Verlag launched the series Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte der Musik in 2009 with Deutsche Frauen, deutscher Sang: Musik in der deutschen Kulturnation, edited by Rebecca Grotjahn. The collection focuses on European musical topics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with essays that culturally contextualize the works of major composers along with those of lesser-known figures such as Albert Lortzing and Ingeborg Bronsart von Schellendorf.

Comments Off on Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte der Musik

Filed under New series, Romantic era

Facsimile editions

Facsimile editions may present reproductions of illuminated manuscripts; they also may document creative processes, like the famously scrawled and blotted manuscripts of Beethoven.

In rare cases facsimile editions provide evidence of collaborative processes; an example is the recent edition by Leo S. Olschki Editore of the working copy of the libretto for Puccini’s Tosca, part of which is pictured above.

With notes in the hands of Puccini, the publisher Giulio Ricordi, and the librettists Luigi Illica and  Giuseppe Giacosa—and the inclusion of pasted-in pages fathfully reproduced as separate, attatched sheets—the edition documents the collaborative process that resulted in one of the landmarks of verismo opera.

Below, Renée Fleming sings Tosca’s signature aria Vissi d’arte.

Comments Off on Facsimile editions

Filed under Dramatic arts, Opera, Publication types, Romantic era, Source studies