Composers vs Engravers: Stems and Slurs part 9

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John Ruggero
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Composers vs Engravers: Stems and Slurs part 9

Post by John Ruggero » 13 Aug 2017, 15:00

A random example of a change of stem direction alla Chopin. (Copyist's autograph with composers corrections of Etude op. 25 no. 5. This copyist generally followed Chopin's original slavishly.)
Chopin stems op 25 no 5.jpg
Chopin stems op 25 no 5.jpg (27.07 KiB) Viewed 899 times
He disregards standard stem direction on the first beat of the left hand in measure 2 of the example because the main note in both hands is B which is elaborated through three octaves in each hand. Therefore the appropriate place to change stem direction in the left hand is on the B so that we clearly see the rise from B to B through a complete octave, as in the right hand. This was engraved correctly in the first French edition:
Chopin Stems op. 25 no 5 1st Fr.jpg
Chopin Stems op. 25 no 5 1st Fr.jpg (29.04 KiB) Viewed 899 times
If he had changed direction on the D that follows and as it was engraved in the first German edition and ever since (the Mikuli is given as an example), we are tempted by the stem grouping to read a erroneous iambic motive D—G—B D—G—B in both hands. Obviously the only reason that the left hand starts on a D is because it must play the bass note G on the first beat. Otherwise it like the right hand would have started on B on the first beat.
Chopin Stems op 25 no 5 Mikuli.jpg
Chopin Stems op 25 no 5 Mikuli.jpg (52.58 KiB) Viewed 899 times
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John Ruggero
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Re: Composers vs Engravers: Stems and Slurs part 9

Post by John Ruggero » 14 Aug 2017, 15:41

And I should have mentioned the stem direction in the right hand of the first measure. It also breaks the "rules" so that the rise through the three B's is unimpeded. The Mikuli version "corrects" that as well with the observed result.
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Schonbergian
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Re: Composers vs Engravers: Stems and Slurs part 9

Post by Schonbergian » 14 Aug 2017, 18:40

Also worth pointing out the completely superfluous G :n cautionary accidental in measure two of the Mikuli, both hands. It is not present in the autograph or first edition, and the preceding cadence makes the naturalization perfectly clear.

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Re: Composers vs Engravers: Stems and Slurs part 9

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Aug 2017, 11:55

Great point, Schonbergian. This Etude (sometimes called the False or Wrong Note Etude) can be a mass of unnecessary accidentals. The original is as clean as a whistle. The first French edition follows the copyist's autograph exactly:
Accidentals 1st Fr.jpeg
Accidentals 1st Fr.jpeg (70.92 KiB) Viewed 849 times
The first German edition started to insert a few cautionaries. By the time of the B&H Complete Works the modern system is in full effect:
Accidentals BB&H.jpeg
Accidentals BB&H.jpeg (127.4 KiB) Viewed 849 times
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