Tchaikovsky piano concerto no. 1, complete works edition

Composers and their works

June 23, 2017
by Ray Heigemeir

The scholarly edition of the famous Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no. 1 just landed in my lap (ouch!), which got me thinking about the impressive publications we in the music world know as “composer complete works editions,” or, “composer collected works.” These often lavish, multi-volume sets of music scores are painstakingly produced by scholars, based on all available source material, and published over time following a pre-determined order, and as the name implies, present the complete output of a particular composer.

Henry Cowell, The Harp of Life (detail showing tone clusters)

Henry Cowell's tone clusters and The Harp of Life

May 23, 2017
by Ray Heigemeir

The maverick composer Henry Cowell wrote the solo piano work, The Harp of Life, in Menlo Park in 1925; it was later incorporated into the suite, Four Irish Tales, for piano and orchestra (1940). The original holograph score is held in the Memorial Library of Music in Stanford’s Department of Special Collections (MLM 232C). Accompanying correspondence from Cowell’s widow, Sydney, notes that only a few of Cowell’s 25 or so manuscripts employing tone clusters have survived, this being one. The Harp of Life refers to a great cosmic harp, upon which a plucked string announces the birth of a new being. Cowell’s tone clusters create an aural celestial environment within which the harp is played.