The Double Reed Archaeologist

Chamber Music and Concertos for Oboists and Bassoonists

A New Series by Charles-David Lehrer

Over the past decade or so, I have been collecting microfilm and microfiche of music for the oboe and bassoon. From time to time, a process known here in the Los Angeles area as copyflo has been applied to this microfilm to produce hardcopy of the music. This has revealed separate parts (and on occasion, scores) of diverse kinds of chamber music and concertos. Initially, I studied these parts at the keyboard to try to understand the structure of a given work. Utilizing this rather tedious process, my work on the oboe concertos of Gustave Vogt in the late 1980's led to a complete dissertation on the Parisian concerto of the 19th century.

The inventions of the PC, the Finale music writing program, the keyboard synthesizer, and the tape cassette and, its successor, the MD, changed everything. When I first started making use of Finale on my PC in conjunction with a Casio synthesizer, I was able to intabulate the complete instrumentation of several simple works. I started with four-parts items, including Gottfried Stöltzel's Sonatas for oboe, violin, horn, and continuo, and soon found myself branching out into the twelve violin concertos of Pietro Locatelli. What a thrill is was when I first heard Finale play back these works through my synthesizer! Needless to say, the Finale's printout of the score and parts in the Petrucci font was found to be first-class.

I became so excited by this process, that I attempted to sell my modest editions to several publishing houses. In practically every case I met with resistance: every excuse from 'concertos do not sell, particularly those for wind instruments', to 'your list of corrections to the original parts indicates that you are an editor, not a musicologist'.

So I have finally reached the decision to make available to the members of the IDRS, all of the  scores and parts that I have made from maunscripts of concertos and chamber music over the past ten years, items that one cannot purchase because of the whims of the marketplace.

My Finale files are being presented in the PDF format, making it possible for anyone to download this music, print it out, and head right into the rehearsal room. For those with Finale, there is an added bonus: every movement of every work will play back through the user's computer and synthesizer. From here, a cassette, CD, or MD of the playback can be made to preserve the playback in an easy-to-get-at medium.

As to notational standards, I have set up my own, based on the study of the history of musical notation, which I undertook over many years at Boston University, the University of Michigan, and UCLA. In every case, Finale must be able to understand whatever I play into the PC via my Kurzweil 2000 keyboard. Therefore, I have by necessity, had to realize, all unfigured basses, all stenographic ornamentation, and all articulation. Work in these three areas is determined by taste, but I have made it easy for performers to modify my decisions.

As examples of my procedures: I have indicated the initiation of each stenographic ornament by use of a horizontal line. Such a tenuto mark also functions as the historically correct musical interpretation of such ornaments. Articulation is more complicated, since it tends to be quite haphazard in the original parts. Utilizing what is originally given, I have maintained a conformity of articulation in all parts throughout a given movement. The same might be said for the usage of dynamics. Unlike many editors of the 19th and 20th centuries, I have not expounded upon what I believe the interpretation of the musical line might be. I feel that this is a personal matter, or should I say, a matter of musical personality. Indeed, many players like to create an 'interpretation' of a given work, and the mannerisms which they overlay are part of their very being. My editions are not interpretations.

Insofar as realization of unfigured bass lines is concerned, I have opted for simply getting the harmonies down; the experienced keyboard player can always improvise upon my harmonies at sight. And I have limited this work to duo and trio sonatas. I have purposely left a lot of room for improvisation, not only for the keyboard player, but also for the double reed soloists themselves. For example, I have not supplied any cadenzas or florid ornamentation in any of my editions.

There will be no extensive lists of repairs in any of my editions either. Double reed players with a deep interest in the subject can simply consult the original parts by contacting the repository from which the music came and obtaining a microfilm or xerox.  All works are identified by source, so such an undertaking is not as daunting as might be expected.

What about biographies of the composers of the works contained in the Double Reed Archaeologist, or detailed analyses of the structures of their works? The wonderful New Groves and MGG will more than satisfy the former inquiries, while I believe the latter is all part of the performers' discovery. But I will say this: I have presented only works that merit some hard work on the part of the performer. The proliferation of advanced degrees in performance has produced a substantial number of enlightened oboists and bassoonists, and I do not want to give away all of the surprises awaiting them as they make their way through the many diggings of the Double Reed Archeologist. I have, therefore, only supplied a basic sketch of each work in order that the members of the IDRS might be inspired to download these works and get them performed.

Needless to say, I am greatly indebted to our IDRS on-line editor Yoshi Ishikawa for making this series possible. And again I acknowledge the support and inspiration of my teachers and friends: especially the oboists, Louis Rosenblatt, Earnest Harrison, and Laila Storch, and the music historian, Marie-Louise Göllner.

Thousand Oaks, California
February 2001