LATEST

News

Unfinished Dvořák manuscript to be presented in New York

Early version of the Cello Concerto's solo part may reveal clues to composer's thought process

Thursday, 03 April 2014

An unfinished manuscript of the solo cello part of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto has come to light in New York. It is to be presented to the public for the first time at an event in the city on 5 April. The manuscript (pictured) appears to have been made between 1894–5, midway through the concerto’s composition, and displays several differences from the first edition published by Simrock in 1896.

The pages were discovered by amateur cellist Robert A. Williamson Jr, among the papers of his late father Robert Williamson Sr, one of the last students of the German–American cellist Alwin Schroeder (1855–1928). A contemporary of Dvořák, Schroeder performed the concerto in Boston in 1896. Following Schroeder's death in 1928, his daughter gave Williamson Sr several of her father's manuscripts. In 2012, while researching an article for The Strad, cellist Jeffrey Solow learnt of the manuscript’s existence and examined it in detail.

‘It was incredibly fascinating to see,’ Solow said. ‘It clearly wasn’t the version of the concerto we know, as it was much shorter, the ending we’re familiar with wasn’t there, and there were several large gaps in it. It’s possible Dvořák had a copy made of the concerto’s unfinished cello part after Schroeder expressed an interest in giving the premiere.’ Supporting this argument are programme notes written for the concerto’s first performance in Boston, which state that Schroeder assisted in some of its technical parts. In the event, Dvořák revised the concerto thoroughly with the help of cellist Hanuš Wihan, although the premiere was eventually given in 1896 by Leo Stern.

The manuscript appears to have been made by a copyist, and includes some bowings. Fingerings are pencilled in, possibly by Schroeder. ‘A lot of these fingerings also appear in the printed first edition,’ said Solow. ‘What that suggests to me is that there was a copy of the cello part in New York that was brought back to Bohemia by Dvořák.’

Contextual evidence, and discrepancies between the published cello part and the orchestral score, also appear to support the theory that there were two streams of transmission in preparing the final version. ‘Certain things, such as bowings, don’t match each other,’ said Solow. ‘This manuscript tends to match what’s in the cello part, not the score.’

Jonathan Del Mar, whose edited urtext edition of the concerto was published in 2012, said, ‘This is  certainly significant in that it is one of the missing links, and fills a gap in the original source materials.’

The manuscript will be presented in the Dvořák Room of the Bohemian National Hall, New York, in an event organised by the Violoncello Society of New York and the Dvořák American Heritage Association. It will be followed by a panel discussion involving Williamson and Solow, as well as music professor Michael Beckerman, author and conductor Maurice Peress, and cellists Terry King and Christine Walevska.

Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial. To purchase back issues click here.


Photo courtesy of Robert A. Williamson Jr

Limited time only offer - 42% off
COMMENTS
comments

POST A COMMENT

Captcha
 
Cookie
viola stolen!
I had my viola stolen last week from Liverpool. Label has: Aubrey J. Tarr 1974...
violin blocks
I have an old unlabled violin and I have noticed 4 small blocks about5cm square...
violin left hand position
I have a new student , quite advanced, who has a 'double jointed' left thumb...
serene violin solo pre-1917
Hi folks. For a story I'm writing I'd like suggestions for the most serene and...
FOLLOW US
  • Facebook
    Facebook
  • Twitter
    Twitter
  • YouTube
    YouTube
  • Google+
    GooglePlus
THE STRAD'S NEWSLETTER

Reading The Strad puts you at the top of your game - Save 42% off a subscription today.

View
X