Matanya Ophee (matanya) wrote,
Matanya Ophee

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?

The Houghton quintet was identical with the Zweites Quintet of Boccherini, published by Heinrich Albert in about 1926. In comparing it to the Albert edition, I realized that both were pretty much the same, except that the manuscript contained only the first three movements, without the variations on the Ritirata di Madrid. I then decided that there was no point in publishing it, since the Albert edition was widely available, and I never did. Now that Andreas Stevens announced the existence of the manuscripts from which Albert had prepared his edition, I decided to investigate this further, and then I needed to go to Boston and check out the paper on which this manuscript was written, to see where and when it was manufactured. While investigating the on-line catalog of the library, I caught out of the corner of my eye a name I was familiar with — Fernando Sor. This is what I found:

The amazing thing was that Harvard acquired the Volkonskaya collection in which this Sor manuscript is included in 1967, and the catalog of the collection came on line in January of 2002, yet, unless I am gravely mistaken, the existence of this unique Sor autograph is not mentioned in the vast literature on Sor. In preparing this edition for publication, I spent a great deal of time on reading the vast literature on the dedicatee, the Princess Zinaida Aleksandrovna Volkonskaya, and on the author of this poem O dolce Amor di Zefiro, the Italian poet Angela Veronese Mantovani, also known under her pen name of Aglaja Anassillide. The  edition contains the original voice and piano music, plus a transcription of the accompaniment for guitar, and also a full facsimile of the manuscript. Beautiful and emotional lyrics, set to music in Sor's usual mastery of the form. Delicious!
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