BHB Harmoniemusik Editions
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Divertimento No. 1 in Bb, Chorale St. Antoni, Hob. II/46; FJH-1d
attributed to Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 1809); edited by Douglas Yeo for 2 oboes, 3 bassoons, 2 horns, and serpent (SAR 0110.2)
Excerpts from accompanying notes and commentary
by Douglas Yeo:
The list of familiar works of classical music is long and robust; among such favourites is the delightful tune, the Chorale St. Antoni. Ironically, this charming melody is known not in its 'original' incarnation, but primarily through a transcription by Brahms, who appropriated the melody for his well known Variations on a Theme of Haydn, Op. 56a/56b. The source of Brahm's Variations is the subject of this edition: a four-movement work for mixed winds attributed to Franz Joseph Haydn, in which the second movement contains the enigmatic reference Chorale St. Antoni.
Having known Brahms' Variations from childhood, it was not until I began playing the serpent that I learned of its connection with the source of Brahms' Variations and the controversy surrounding its authorship. It is my hope that the publication of this new edition will do more than simply provide performers with an attractive set of parts to a delightful piece of music but will generate an appreciation both of the craft of its composer and the rare quality of sounds this unique combination of instruments creates.
The Authorship Debate: The controversy surrounding authorship of the Divertimenti includes allegations, defenses, unsupported statements, wishful thinking and one-upmanship. This is but a brief summary of some of the argument that has been going on since the early 1950s and, by doing so, I add my thoughts to the already complicated b ut utterly unresolved situation . . . .
Performance Notes: The Divertimento has been well known in modern editions since Geiringer's edition of 1932. At that time, the serpent has fallen completely into disuse so modern performances were given with the bottom part assigned to the contrabassoon (or, as later editions would suggest, string bass). As mentioned above, this is a wholly unsatisfactory solution to the bottom part dilemma as it separates the bass from the rest of the ensemble by at least an octave . . .
Notes on the Edition: Preparing this edition has been an exercise in scholarship, practical performance practice, and compromise. The sources consulted (M1, M2, M3, E1, E2, E3) present great challenges to an editor. The copyist who prepared M1 (parts only) made many patent errors, leaving out required accidentals in one part (when they are included in another), sloppy articulations, and een disputed notes. M2 faithfully tired to put into score form the parts from M1, including the errors. The M1 errors which were carried into M2 were then subsequently 'fixed' in pencil by unknown hand on the M2 score. In some cases the corrections were sensible and logical, bringing one part into harmony with the other parts. In other cases, the correction seems to be well intentioned but may have altered the composer's intentions. I am reminded of a correspondence I had with the composer William Gordon. When I asked him about his God Be With You, a piece that had been recorded several times where a dissonance and resolution on the final cadence had been removed by most conductors, he replied, 'Most who have played this have not understood the suspension, especially such a discordant one and have, unfortunately, de-composed it. But I do wish it.'
Tampering with a work composed by one who is no longer available to defend himself is risky business, so in preparing this edition I have tried to reconcile certain aspects which seem to cry out for correction or clarification while eschewing other well-meaning alterations for reasons I will explain below . . . . by Douglas Yeo
Divertimento No. 1 in Bb: Allegro con spirito; Andante (Chorale St. Antoni); Minuetto; Rondo Allegretto