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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Matanya Ophee's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
7:24 pm
NOW AVAILABLE! — Johann Nepomuk Hummel — Grande Sérénade en Potpourri Op. 63
Now available!

It's been a while since I last posted here. The reason is that besides being distracted by other interests and issues, I also take my time now, proof reading everything, asking friends and family to help me, and then proof reading the whole thing again and again. Call it paranoia if you will, but being a one man operation, there is no one I can blame for major boo-boos, except myself. So it now takes a lot of time to get a major composition like this one to the printers, score and parts. This one was one of the first project I ever contemplated. I got the first copies of it from a Viennese library back in the early 1970s.
The music of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) is becoming increasingly well known through recordings, performances and research, including the recent appearance of the first full-length biography in English. Once known primarily for his trumpet concerto, there has been a growing interest in a wide range of his output, especially works for piano and chamber music for diverse combinations of instruments. Hummel was a prodigy who traveled in lofty musical circles from a very young age, forming ties with a broad range of luminaries. He studied with Mozart as a boy (c. 1786-1788) and became a protégé of Haydn, whom he succeeded as Kappellmeister to Prince Esterházy at Eisenstadt (1804-1811). He developed a sometimes difficult relationship with Beethoven over a period of more than thirty years beginning in 1793, met Schubert in 1827, was admired by Schumann, and had many of his works performed by Liszt. Hummel also made extensive tours of Europe as a virtuoso pianist. Hummel and guitarist Mauro Giuliani became acquainted soon after Giuliani’s arrival in Vienna in 1807.  The two went on to collaborate as both performers and composers in a fruitful partnership that resulted in several works for guitar and piano, as well as larger ensembles. The circumstances surrounding the premier performances of Hummel’s ensemble Serenades op. 63 and 66 are well documented. These uniquely scored works were composed for an outdoor concert series hosted by Count Franz Pálffy at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace in 1815.
This edition is based on an early nineteenth century edition, originally published by the composer himself in what appears to have been a vanity publishing operation. This Serenade was composed and published simultaneously with another work with the same title, and for the same ensemble. The same title page was used for both serenades and the opus number, Op. 63 for the current work and Op. 66 for its companion, and the ordinal number of the work, Serenata prima for the current work and Serenata seconda for its companion, were written by hand on the respective title pages. Never­theless, the opus number of each Serenade is printed on the first page of the piano part, and all the parts carry the designation of Serenata 1ma for Op. 63 and Serenata 2da for Op. 66.

Front cover design is by Zaryana Bezu.
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
8:16 pm
NAMM Oral History Video
Now if there is still somebody out there who does not know who I am, here is a short (46 minutes!) introduction:

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
3:01 pm
And one more, before the year is out...
Yes, I know. This was sent to the printers before the year was out. But it only came today. First one for 2013!
 Now available.
Two separate editions: one for the score and one for the parts.

This edition is based on an early nineteenth century print, now kept at the Library of Congress in Washington DC that can be dated to circa 1824-25. A remark on the title page states that:

      One could sing along with all the numbers, [thus] the intentions of Mozart have been preserved with exactitude. The guitar part is accessible to all amateurs.

This marketing ploy was often used by publishers, appealing to an amateur market which consisted of guitarists with basic technical proficiency. Obviously, this was not a publication intended for the concert stage, but rather for private performance at home. On examining this arrangement, we can see that the sequence of the numbers and the choice of tonalities does not correspond to the sequence of numbers and their tonalities in known editions of The Magic Flute. Obviously, de Lhoyer had not attempted to arrange the entire opera. Moreover, the sequence he chose for the pieces has no relationship to the Mozart opera and to its original story line. Only seven of the pieces retain the original key, and six of the numbers vary in tonality by a semitone in either direction, with the exception of N° 10 that is a whole tone off the original.

This edition is a perfect vehicle for the introduction of intermediate guitar students to the performance of chamber music with other musicians. Precisely because the sequence of the numbers does not follow the original story line of the opera, there seems to be an obvious disconnect between the separate movements of this apparent suite of famous melodies, suggesting that individual movements of the arrangement could be performed independently of the entire work in any suitable combination. However, attempts to reconstruct the entire arrangement along the lines of the original opera, considering that it includes original variations added by de Lhoyer, would be an artificial conflation and a distortion of both Mozart’s The Magic Flute and this arrangement of it by Antoine de Lhoyer.

Front cover design is by Zaryana Bezu.
Saturday, October 27th, 2012
6:48 pm
Summer is over. Time to publish again...
This is what I have now:

The seven short pieces in this work for solo guitar are arrangements of abstracts from operas by Rossini. However, with the exception of the last piece, these pieces cannot be identified as originating in any of the operas by Rossini. They may have been composed by de Fossa himself, or that he took them from one or more unidentified composers. Compositions by Rossini have been arranged by many guitarist composers. The Barber of Seville has been named ‘the greatest of all operas’ and it is understandable that others have made versions for use at home and the concert stage. Instrumental music exists by Ferdinando Carulli —with piano and for trio of guitar, viola and flute.  The only piece in this collection that can be safely identified as coming from a Rossini opera is a duet aria from the first act, third scene of the Barber of Seville, where Figaro explains to Count Almaviva where he has his barber shop and what he can see in the shop window. The original key is G but this instrumental guitar version is in A. The location of the opera is in Spain, and characteristically, Rossini used the guitar as accompaniment to arias in this opera. The dedicatee of this work is most probably Julien Hippolyte Joseph Foulques de Villaret born November 25, 1788 in Valenciennes in the north of France. His name occurs in the list of persons who received the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France. Like de Fossa, he was a military officer.
The group of five contredanses or quadrilles were short ballroom dances that were popular in Paris during the First Empire, from 1804 till 1814. Each piece had a predefined time signature and structure. The dances were introduced later in England, then in Germany, and finally in Vienna around 1840. Over the years, the set of dances has developed from originally five to six but the basis was primarily kept in this order:
  • Pantalon (trousers), adapted from a naughty French song;
  • L’Eté (the summer);
  • Poule (chicken), the music imitating the sounds of chicken;
  • Pastourelle, from the French ballad Gentille Pastourelle by Collinet;
  • Finale.
Friday, July 6th, 2012
6:13 pm
WIP — Emilio Pujol, Guitar School Book III.
Long out of print, we finally got around to reprint this important book.

This was no mere re-printing, but we took the opportunity to completely re-typeset the text in a different font than the one we used originally in 1992, and to re-engrave the entire musical text, this time in our standard Score program. This facet allowed us to reduce the number of pages from the original 144 to 136, a factor that allowed us to maintain the list price within reason in spite of the increase in paper cost and other inflationary factors that occurred since the last reprint. Also, this was a good time to correct some egregious errors and misprints that have been pointed to us by readers over the years, and also some that we found ourselves. Needless to say, a book without misprints is an accident, one which we fervently hope to encounter...

The most important update we have taken has to do with the binding. Now the book is bound in a lay-flat binding, which does exactly what it says. It lays flat on whatever surface you lay the book on.
Sunday, March 4th, 2012
10:05 am
WIP — Mambo for MO by Carlos Barrientos

The composer says:

Several musical threads led to my writing this piece of music to celebrate my friend Matanya Ophee’s (AKA MO) 80th birthday - a life lived with the guitar. Jelly Roll Morton once asserted: “In fact, if you can't manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning; I call it, for jazz.” Over the last couple of years I moved back to Jelly Roll Morton’s city: New Orleans, home of my adolescence and reacquainted myself with the tinges of Spanish in its rich musical heritage. One of these pieces was the Mardi Gras Mambo, an iconic song frequently played during Mardi Gras and, in David Newman’s reworking of the lyrics, at the New Orleans Saints football games as the Super Bowl Mambo. Uncited sources on both Wikipedia and Essortment say the word Mambo means “conversation with the gods” in Kikongo, the language spoken by Central African slaves taken to Cuba where it became the name for a musical form and a dance style that developed originally in Cuba in the able hands of Cachao’s (Bassist Orestes Lopez) tune: Danzon Mambo. This rhythmic style became famous in the 1950’s following its use in dance bands in Mexico and through New Orleans to the United States. The infectiousness of the New Orleans re-interpretation of the Mambo’s ostinato bass line and the reaction of people who are readily moved to dance when they hear it spoke to me of dance and celebration. This led me to choose some of this piece’s characteristics and title for this piece: Mambo for MO.

As we have progressed on the instrument, some of us may have encountered the four-chord descending minor chord progression known as the Andalusian cadence: i - VII - VI - V in many different genres and guises. After all, it appears in Ray Charles’ Hit the Road, Jack, the verse on Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, Walk, Don’t Run by The Ventures, Runaway by Del Shannon and in that great work arranged and embraced by the Guitar: J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004. This bass line derived from a Latin American musical style as reinterpreted in New Orleans, a chord progression that evokes the Flamenco Music of Spain, and my impressions of the sinuous lines of people dancing the Second Line in the streets of New Orleans at Mardi Gras led me to this synthesis as a tribute to a man who has contributed so much in his lifelong efforts for the guitar, its history and lore on the occasion of his birthday! Happy Birthday, Matanya!

And the theme is:

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
5:22 am
WIP — Andrey Sychra — Grand Fantasia, on motives from der Freischütz For the seven-string guitar
This one had taken more than its fair share of proof-reading. I have to thank Oleg Timofeyev and Marc L. Greenberg for catching some, and Margarita Mazo for doing to my preface what she does for her students' term-papers. Last corrections-changes were made by me this morning, just before uploading this to the printers' web site.
Sychra- Granda Fantasia on motives from der Freischütz
Here is what this is all about:

Andrey Osipovich Sychra was born in Vilno (today Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1773. The family originated in Bohemia, and already in the seventeenth century moved to the western provinces of the Russian empire, which at the time included Poland and Lithuania. Andrey’s father Joseph, was a harpist and music teacher by profession and served in the houses of the local nobility. He is credited with the earliest known Polish source for the polonaise, a 1772 manuscript collection containing 62 polonaises. Naturally, Andrey’s first instrument was the harp, on which he was reputed to have been a ‎great virtuoso, appearing in public in Vilno and its environs. He is also reported to have played the six-string guitar, and eventually settled on the seven- string guitar as the instrument to which he dedicated his life.

Sychra arrived in Moscow at the beginning of 1801. He began a long and productive career as a composer and teacher of the seven-string guitar. He became the dominant figure in the field and created for himself a huge following.‎In 1812, perhaps because of the chaos caused by Napoleon’s campaign in Russia and the famous Moscow fire of that year, Sychra moved to the Russian capital St. Petersburg, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. Sychra rarely appeared in concert, preferring to present his students to the public, with the occasional active participation by himself. As reported by some of his students, he was a formidable performer in his own right. The number of his students was considerable and as evident from the dedications to them on many published works by Sychra, they were often members of St. Petersburg’s high society and the Imperial Court. Some of his students became well known as performers and composers, who also contributed to the culture of the guitar in Russia. The better known among them were Semion Aksionov, Vasilii Svintsov, Fiodor Zimmermann, Vasilii Sarenko, Vladimir Morkov, Nikolai Aleksandrov, Pavel Beloshein, and Osip Petrov.‎ Sychra died in St. Petersburg in 1850 in abject poverty.

Sychra’s preoccupation with operatic transcriptions was commented upon by Mikhail Stakhovich in his famous history of the Russian seven string guitar, pointing out in particular this very composition as a “successful” fantasia in which the composer’s depiction of the orchestra on the guitar was “the perfections itself.” Andrey Sychra made several arrangements and potpourris on themes from der Freischütz. He also arranged and published arrangements of material drawn from all the major operas of his time, such as works by Rossini, Bellini, Meyerbeer, Herold, Boildieu, Glinka, Verstovsky et al. But his Grand Fantasia on themes from der Freischütz stands out as one of his major compositions for the seven-string guitar. In considering the work as a guitar composition, we can easily agree with Stakhovich’s characterization of it as “the perfection itself.” Although the Grand Fantasia is based on motives from der Freischütz, in essence a potpourri, as a composition for the guitar it is an accomplished invention, which results in a truly idiomatic virtuoso masterpiece. This edition, the first edition of this work outside Russia, is based on a nineteenth century autograph manuscript.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
1:40 pm
Here is what I need:

A complete directory of Russian music publishers. There isn't one that I know of. The French, Italian, German, Spanish, English, American all have their respective directories of music publishers. Some of these are better than others, some have glaring mistakes and lacunae, but all provide the historical researcher with a more or less reliable means of dating a given musical composition. All that exists in regard to Russian music publishers is this:

Read more...Collapse )

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
8:57 am
A free day in Madrid.
No, I am not about to go traipsing around town. Today, is a Spanish national holiday, and Madrid looks like they rolled up the sidewalks for the day. The reason I am here at all, two days ahead of the Boccherini conference that starts tomorrow, is that I wanted to be sure to be here. Traveling on a free ticket, space available basis, is always risky. Coming to think of it, the cost of two nights in this fancy hotel would probably equal the price of a full fair ticket, but then, I now have a chance of getting over the cursed jet-lag before I have to read this lecture the day after tomorrow....

Anyway, my friend Luis gave me as a present the complete run of all issues of the Spanish guitar magazine called Roseta. I knew about this magazine, tried to get a subscription to it, hoped to be able to send them review copies of my editions, but so far, all my attempts failed. They never answered my inquiries, or, most probably, I wrote to the wrong person. Now that I have all the issues, 5 of them so far, I must say that I am very impressed. Technically speaking, this is one of the best executed guitar publication. Excellent graphics, first class professional typography, and high level editorial control. As for the contents: my brief perusal of some of the articles published, particularly those where my name is mentioned, showed me that I am not as clever as I thought I was. Some ideas that I expressed in recent writing and in lectures, were already discussed by others, without my knowledge of them, and probably without their knowledge of me. Then there is also the case of people writing on subjects on which I published extensive material, without even a footnote referring to my 25 year old writings on the same subject (the article on guitar notation for example). Not the first time this happened, and I am sure not the last time either. Nevertheless, this type of missing credits always gets my goat...

Then there is the question of reviews of my editions. Since I was never able to establish contact with this magazine, I never sent them any review copies. That has not prevented them from publishing extensive reviews of some of my editions, particularly those with some historical reference, i.e., de Fossa, Regondi etc. Reading such reviews, it is always interesting to read what other people think of my work, and the very fact that they consider it at all, is always welcome news. Then there is the case of their critical remarks of my work. When a Spanish reviewer catches my misprint of a Spanish name, then it is of course a good thing, and his hopes that the mistake will be corrected in the next printing is of course a good thing as well, but I am afraid that some of these editions will never see a reprint. So it goes.

The difficulty I have is with critical comments that are completely off the wall, exhibiting the writer's total ignorance regarding the mechanics of music publication. In the past, when a magazine was unable to control such deleterious comments on the part of their reviewers, Classical Guitar magazine for example, I demonstratively stopped sending them review copies, and demonstratively they retaliated by stopping to send me their magazine for free, as they did from their very first issue in 1982. But in this case, my actions are limited. Roseta never sent me anything, and I never sent them anything either. So now I have to consider what would be the correct forum in which to express my displeasure with such incompetence. I will have to cogitate about this, and perhaps discuss the matter with some of my Spanish colleagues.
Friday, October 21st, 2011
3:47 pm
Spilling the serendipitous beans...
It goes like this: some 20 years ago, my friend and mentor John M. Ward told me about a manuscript of a Boccherini guitar quintet that was mentioned by a student of his, Dr. Craig Wright, in a catalog of manuscripts housed at the Houghton library at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. The catalog was published in the X (1970) issue of Current Musicology under the title "Rare Music Manuscripts at Harvard" (p. 25-33). Curiously, the existence of this manuscript is not mentioned in Yves Gérard's 1969 thematic catalog of Boccherini, published one year earlier. Of course I got myself a microfilm of the manuscript, had it engraved, and announced my publication of it in my 1993 catalog, a publication that was sent free to some 8000 guitarists on my mailing list at the time. I kept rather secretive on the whereabouts of this manuscript, assuming that if I knew about Dr. Wright's catalog, the information would also be available to others, if they were assiduous enough in looking for it. Moreover, the existence of this manuscript was also listed in Barbara Wolff's book, Music Manuscripts At Harvard, published in 1992. No big secret, right?

Unknown Fernando Sor under the cut..Collapse )
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
2:11 pm
On the risks of answering inquiries
As I noted in this page, I am usually not inclined to answer unsolicited inquiries from people I do not know. But once in a while get hooked on, particularly when the subject matter is something I published. At the beginning of the year, I got this inquiry from someone whose name I have never encountered before.
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Sunday, September 25th, 2011
1:37 pm
WIP — Tango Errante by Máximo Diego Pujol
Barring last minute delays, this new work by Máximo Diego Pujol goes to the printers next week.

Front cover illustration is by Cecilia Balagué de Pujol, collection of the artist. Used by permission

The title Tango Errante is an oblique reference to the rootless roving of modern life.

Front cover illustration is by Cecilia Balagué de Pujol, collection of the artist. Used by permission.
Friday, September 16th, 2011
6:23 pm
My monthly LJ post...
Here is what I recall:

Some 10-15 years ago, I bought from a woman in Kansas (or Missouri) an 19th century American guitar method that was completely in TAB. I paid $50.- for it, and put it where I always keep old guitar methods. Now, I need to look at it, and it is nowhere to be found. I spent the last two days going through my entire collection with zilch results. I do not recall the woman's name, do not even recall the author's name, but I know for sure that I am not dreaming about this.

Now, there are several possibilities:

1. it was stolen.
2. I put it someplace else where I would not normally put such things. (It is not in the refrigerator...)
3. Somebody else who was here, misplaced it and put it God knows where.
4. I am actually imagining all of this and it never really happened.

Now, I know no one can find it for me without coming here and going through the stuff. But, would anybody recall if such a method did really exist?
Thursday, July 7th, 2011
1:22 pm
Never say never, but then...
After the three financially disastrous GFA vendor's fairs, the one in San Francisco in 2008, (I missed the Ithaca event in 2009, taking care of my prostate cancer at the MPRI in Bloomington, IN, using the two months treatment to finish the translation of the Sor method), the one in Austin TX in 2010, and the one that just took place in Columbus GA, I will never waste time and money, not to mention the physical energy required, to exhibit in GFA vendors fairs in the future. Basta. Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
4:03 pm
WIP-Mark Delpriora's Variations on a Theme by Sor.

The composer says: In the tradition of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “Variations à travers les siècles.” Astor Piazzola’s “Histoire du Tango” and Argento’s song cycle “Letters from Composers,” I have taken an historical view of composition for my “Variations on a Theme by Sor.” This new set of variations follows Sor’s little Menuet in c minor op. 24 N° 1 as it makes its epic journey across time and space through the nineteenth century and into the early years of the twentieth century. During its travels, the theme meets and pays its respects to the godfathers of nineteenth century music and as a result is irrevocably transformed.

Variations 12 and 14 from this composition, served as the set-piece for the 2011 GFA International Concert Artists Competition (ICAC).

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
4:41 am
It's been awhile...
since I last posted here. The attraction of quick ripostes in FB, and even while avoiding the twitable tweets, does take away from the pleasure of keeping this blog active. I do not have a new edition to present, and I am quite away, away from home, sitting in my friend's home in Heidelberg, Germany, waiting for the annual pilgrimage to the Frankfurter MusikMesse to begin tomorrow. So what's on my mind?

The Lake Konstanz guitar research meeting which ended a couple of days ago.

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Thursday, December 30th, 2010
12:21 pm
A cliff hanger! WIP- Richard Pick School of Guitar
Rushing to finish EOY accounting, I also just about finished everything to do with the Richard Pick School of Guitar. I can send it to the printers right now, but.....

Got to go through one more time. There are almost a thousand exercises, drills and examples, all fully fingered. It goes without saying, there will be some misprints in there, but I'll try to minimize them, if possible. In the mean time, here is the cover:

Nothing fancy and no extraneous graphic flights of fancy, just plain description of what's inside. Anyway, I will bring this project to a final conclusion sometimes early next year...
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
9:19 pm
9:16 pm
9:13 pm
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