Reviewed by Bruce Gustafson*
1.2 This fifth number in the series pleasantly dubbed Convivium Musicum joins volumes that began to appear in 1992, dedicated to music from the Renaissance and Baroque from Germanic areas. Thus far there is a sharper focus in that all of the music selected for publication was originally associated in some way with Strasbourg: the first four volumes were of music, both vocal and instrumental, published there in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the edition under discussion is based on an a manuscript that was written there.1 The general editors are Marc Honegger and Christian Meyer, both associated with the University of Strasbourg. The volumes are essentially bilingual (French and German), but the prefaces are also translated into English. The volumes are handsomely printed and reflect high editorial standards.
1.3 This edition consists of pieces grouped into twenty-one units that are (mostly) numbered in the manuscript, but not given generic headings, just as in Frobergers autograph manuscripts; but this edition designates them as suites, a term not usual in German until the eighteenth century. First come thirteen known suites by Froberger and then another unattributed one that was already known from another source but had never been published in a modern edition—and which is quite likely to be by Froberger. The rest of the pieces were entered from the other end of the manuscript with a new and incomplete numbering sequence: four suites by Valentin Strobel, two of which are only provisionally attributed, one by Jean Mercure that includes a Gavotte that is actually by Johann Gumprecht; a suite by Alessandro Poglietti; and finally one by Michael Bulyowsky, the principal scribe of the manuscript. Added much later by another hand is La Favorite by Dandrieu, and it is included in the edition for completeness—although it is not listed in the Table of Contents, presumably in the interest of chronological tidiness.2 Thus, the legends on the first page of this manuscript make perfect sense Anno 1675 | 15 Martii | Argentorati [=Strasbourg] | MB. The date presumably reflects the outset of the copying, eight years after the death of Froberger, but more than twenty years before ten of his suites were published for the first time, hitherto providing what was the earliest source for some suites. It is clear that Bulyowsky was copying from various manuscripts, and that the compilation was made gradually, as the handwriting changes. However, it is very significant that two of the suites by Froberger have the notation at the end, ex autographo. They are not from the surviving autographs, which are called Libro 2 and Libro 4,3 evoking the tantalizing suspicion that Bulyowsky held in his hands the first or third books, now lost. It is more likely, however, that he had access to one or more autographs that Froberger had kept with him personally, as opposed to the presentation copies that would have remained in Vienna; if this hypothesis is correct, the readings here would reflect the composers last revisions of the pieces in question.4 Strasbourg is situated in reasonably close cultural proximity to some of the places where Froberger was active: Stuttgart, where he was born; Mainz, where Constantijn Huygens met him in 1665; Héricourt near Montbéliard, where he lived the last eighteen months of his life. Even though there is no record of his actually being active in Strasbourg, more than one vestige of his music survives there, including the Stoos manuscript.5 Thus, the Bulyowsky manuscript can be considered to be within the mainstream of Froberger sources.
2.2 Rasch is careful not to claim too much for the manuscript. He disparages the new movements (a courante and two doubles) as not the best of Frobergers work, although they complete a previously courante-less suite. But the manuscript also provides new descriptive titles for six movements, and a duple version of a gigue known previously only as triple. 6 The many variants in the readings of the known pieces are well worth having readily available, even though, as Rasch points out, they run the gamut from being musically preferable, through being simply alternates, to being musically inferior to the known readings. The manuscript is also interesting for the question of the ordering of the classic four dances (allemande, courante, sarabande, gigue). In nine of the thirteen suites unquestionably by Froberger, the gigue is placed after the allemande, as documentary evidence indicates the composer preferred. But that still leaves four suites (five if one includes the tentatively attributed one) in which the gigue comes at the end; it is worth noting that four of these five have doubles or two versions of a movement, and the anomalous suite is the one of uncertain attribution.7 but it has never been treated to a modern edition, and the Bulyowsky harpsichord suite (in B-flat minor!) was completely unknown. While the latter is not of compelling musical interest, it does shed some light on a little-known figure. 8 There are already three editions of the complete works of Froberger that either conflate sources or present only selected variant readings,9 and it is certainly instructive to have an easily readable edition of a particular source, one which has very good credentials. However, to be useful for this purpose, the page must reflect as closely as possible the readings of the source, and here editorial policies become more than arcane principles necessary for consistency of appearance. The invisibility of the editorial hand is not necessarily a good thing.
4.2 Raschs initial statement in the discussion of editorial principles is alarming, declaring the aim of the edition to be an optimal text for the performance of each suite. That is in direct conflict with the sentence just quoted from the preface, and fortunately it is not—for the most part—what Rasch has done. He has been admirably faithful to the manuscripts text, albeit modernizing many more things than I would prefer, including time signatures and barring. Obvious errors are corrected and reported in the critical apparatus, but occasionally Rasch makes changes that impose musical consistency where it doesnt exist in the manuscript, such as changing a cadential arpeggiation figure at the end of one strain to match that of the other strain when both formulas are equally idiomatic. There is also an inherently inconsistent policy about which rhythmic values at ends of strains have been regularized. Absolutely none of this is visible on the page, and a tidy page must be what the editors mean by optimal text. Hiding the editorial process has one especially troubling aspect here, the refusal to indicate on the page which ties are not in the manuscript supposedly being presented. The changes are reported at the back of the volume, to be sure, but even there no indication is given whether the added tie is the editors idea or found in a concordant source. And these editorial ties are everywhere! As anyone who has worked with sources for this sort of repertory knows, copyists were frequently careless about ties; the style brisé texture of the music involves a plethora of them, which one per force adds after drawing the notes, and it is easy to forget them or carelessly add them on the wrong notes if they happen to be adjacent. But this is also one of the things that a harpsichordist wants to know without digging around in the critical apparatus: did this copyist mitigate a dissonance with a tie, or might one re-strike the note, making a very strong effect? Rasch obviously thinks dissonances should be suspensions whenever possible, and hes probably right, but it misrepresents the situation to declare such ties to be lacking in the source. This manuscript, in fact, demonstrates that—at least in Bulyowskys opinion—there are ties lacking in Frobergers autograph versions. The whole point of an edition of a single source is to show what is in that source. Especially from the standpoint of ties, this editions policies are unsatisfactory.
4.3 In a related way, the basic attitude towards the critical apparatus is slightly askew. Unlike the preface, both the apparatus, and worse yet its explanation, are given only in German, and this is not in a tabular form that is easy to understand in an a-lingual way. And, as noted above, it adheres to a concept that I find intellectually backwards, though it is certainly following an established tradition: the apparatus logs how the manuscript differs from the text (the editors text), rather than the other way around. The primary authority should be the manuscript, not the editors rendition of it.
4.4 Perhaps we should be grateful, however, to have been spared more translation, as therein lies the only real outrage of the edition. Rasch wrote his preface in German. It was translated into idiomatic French by Christian Meyer, albeit introducing some changes in meaning in the process. 10 David Burns English text seems to be a translation of Meyers French—not the original German—and it suffers from a good many stylistic lapses.
4.5 In spite of my disagreement with the editorial policies discussed above, this is a beautifully printed edition that is very helpful to students and performers of Frobergers music. Rasch appears to be both a careful and musicianly editor. The musical text is very readable at the harpsichord, wisely compressed to avoid page turns (six systems per page in many cases). One can only hope that this volume reflects a trend toward modern editions presenting specific versions of pieces, displacing the notion of definitive texts that dont let the performer or student know what kinds of options existed for seventeenth-century harpsichordists. Facsimiles are a short-cut because they demand an enormous effort—that of an editor—on the part of the user; and in the end they rarely substitute for the original when one is questioning a detail, because they too have been subjected to an invisible editorial hand, one that doesnt compile a critical apparatus about the blemishes removed.
*Bruce Gustafson (Bruce.Gustafson@fandm.edu) has written extensively on French harpsichord music and is publishing editions of it with The Broude Trust and A-R Editions. He is Charles A. Dana Professor of Music at Franklin & Marshall College.
Return to beginning
Notes1. The four previous volumes in Convivium Musicum are as follows:
1. Sixtus Dietrich: Magnificat octo tonorum (Strasbourg, 1535). Edited by Marc Honegger and Christian Meyer (1992). A capella magnificats.Return to text
2. A full discussion of the manuscript is promised
in Pieter Dirksen and Rudolf Rasch, Eine neu-entdeckte Quelle für
die Klaviersuiten von Johann Jacob Froberger, Musik in Baden-Württemberg,
Jahrbuch (2001); it was not yet available at the time of this writing.
One assumes that there will be further information on the paper and ink(s),
which are unmentioned in this edition. A facsimile edition is also in
preparation by the library holding the manuscript in Schriftenreihe
der Sächsischen Landesbibliothek — Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek
Dresden, 4 (Dresden: S.L.U.B. Dresden).
3. A-Wn Mus. Hs. 18706 (dated 1649), and 18707
(dated 1656). A third, later, autograph (A-Wn Mus Hs. 16560) is
unrelated in contents to the Bulyowsky manuscript.
4. Alexander Silbiger makes this distinction in discussing
the lost first and third books, although at that time the Bulyowsky manuscript
was also lost: Tracing the Contents of Froberger's Lost Autographs,
Current Musicology 54 (1993): 5–23.
5. F-Pn Rés. Vm7 1818 (from
7. The Ottobeuren manuscript, D-OB MO 1037
8. Sie sind keine fixierte, gefrorene Wesen, die
immer dieselbe Erscheinungsform aufweisen, sondern dynamische Objekte,
Artefakte die sich mit jeder neuen Abschrift, sowohl durch den Komponisten
als durch einen anderen Kopisten, wieder ändern (p. xxi). Rasch
goes further, however, and claims that all this comes to an end when a
composer publishes a piece, at which point the composer has no more interest
in it. I think it would be hard to defend this generalization, especially
since so little harpsichord music in this style was published during the
period in question.
9. The standard edition was made by Guido Adler a
century ago and still is very useful. It appeared in three separated volumes
of Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich: Jahrgang IV/1,
Band 13; Jahrgang VI/2, Band 13; and Jahrgang X/2, Band 21. Howard Schott
made a new edition in two tomes (1980, 1990), sold as four volumes,
for the Pupitre series now sold by Leduc in Paris. It has not found
wide acceptance; it has no critical apparatus, but editorial accidentals
and ties are indicated as such on the page. Currently, Siegfried Rampe
is bringing out the complete works with Bärenreiter in Kassel; only
the first two volumes, of the autograph collections cited above, have
appeared to date (1993, 1995) He places selected variants on the page
and indicates editorial additions as such.
10. For example, the notion of studying the
music disappears when Bisher war die Suite wegen ihrer Unvollständigkeit
eine wenig attractive Suite zum Einstudieren und Ausführen becomes En raison de son caractère incomplet, la Suite 28 navait
guère retenu jusquà présent lattention des clavecinistes (italics mine). The English follows the French.
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