By Mary Nemet | From the May-June 2022 issue of Strings magazine
To mark its 250th anniversary, Schott Music has dug deep into the archives and re-edited treasures from its historic collection held in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. Schott has chosen the title Joy of Music to commemorate its publication in 1826 of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with its celebrated final chorus, Schiller’s Ode to Joy.
Joy of Music: Virtuoso and Entertaining Pieces for Violin & Piano
Ed. Wolfgang Birtel
Schott Music, €28
This anthology is aimed at professional musicians and advanced amateurs who are interested in new discoveries outside the standard repertoire. It mainly contains works from the Romantic era, however there is variety to be found in abundance, from virtuoso pieces to expressive character pieces to gems of salon music to elaborate arrangements of well-known opera melodies. The pieces are arranged chronologically according to the composer’s date of birth, beginning with Pugnani and ending with Hubay.
Many of these original works and arrangements were penned by major violinists of the 19th century, such as Emil Kross, Berthold Tours, Adolf Politzer, and Alfred Moffat—names largely forgotten today. Others like Wieniawski, de Bériot, Tchaikovsky, and Hubay are well-known, and here players will find some of their more unusual or neglected works.
These 18 pieces showcase many original works by Fiorillo, Alard, Léonard—masters of their instrument in their day. Others are by pianists, such as Field, Chopin, Rubinstein, and Schulhoff, and skillfully arranged for violin. Many of the pieces, such as Capricho Espagnol by Hubert Léonard, and Gigue, Op. 23, by Wieniawski, are technically demanding, as one might expect from these wizards of the day. The popularity of opera in the 19th century is reflected in Bizet’s Carmen March, as well as a Fantasia on Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, arranged by esteemed pedagogue Berthold Tours.
Salon gems, such as Romance by Anton Rubinstein, and perennial favorites, like Yradier’s famous La Paloma, sit alongside Mazurka by Chopin and Hymn by Gounod. This edition of neglected works is based on Schott’s first editions, and original fingering and bowing indications have been adopted here, while details added by the editor are identified by the use of brackets.
If you are seeking a lyrical piece to add to your repertoire, Pugnani’s Adagio or Sérénade by de Bériot will fit the bill. Chopin’s Mazurka, Op. 17, is lively and not too taxing, Ravina’s Petit Boléro has a charming lilt, while Schulhoff’s Impromptu in first position will suit young players.
This delightful album is an exciting expedition into unexplored territory where the violinist will find hours of pleasure.