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Mander Organs
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The Organ Symphonies Of Louis Vierne

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Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject?

 

I have the Rollin Smith book on Vierne and I have (somewhere) the articles by David Sanger in OR, concerning some apparent inaccuracies in Vierne's scores.

 

However, I believe that there are some which are not in the Smith book (I have not yet located which issues of IR contain the Sanger articles). For example, there are a few in the First Symphony, not listed, which must be incorrect - the last movement, in particular. One or two are so obvious, I must confess that I have played the 'correct' (i.e. harmonically, not as printed) notes for some time, before noticing the anomalies.

 

I am particularly interested in the first and second symphonies (entire) and the sixth (Finale).

 

Any assistance in this matter will be gratefully received.

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Given the shameful record of one well-known French music publiser, it is perfectly possible that there are inaccuracies in Louis Vierne's published symphonies. The only way of telling for sure is to go back to the manuscripts. Even then, you have to bear in mind that Vierne was blind for most of his adult life and, therefore, probably relied on dictating his compositions, which could have created the opportunity for the introduction of errors to his scores as they were being committed to paper.

 

If you take some of the published works of Widor and Fauré by Hamelle, it is not hard to find scores that are littered with misprints. Indeed, the choral reduction of Widor's mass for two choirs and two organs, published by Hamelle, is full of errors - a real triumph of French music publishing. And Hamelle's originally published version of Fauré's Requiem, the enlarged 'concert' version that the composer wanted no truck with, is a litany of misprints.

 

Widor kept revising his symphonies, and I'm not sure he stuck with Hamelle for later versions, having been frustrated by the publisher's incompetence.

 

But in fairness to French music publishing, there are misprints and errors elsewhere. Much of Dvorak's published output is full of errors, including such well-known pieces as the B minor Cello Concerto and the New World Symphony. The conductor Denis Vaughan, a former assistant of Thomas Beecham, did go back to Dvorak's manuscripts and was astounded at what he found. Even the famous tune from the New World Symphony, immortalised by the 'Hovis' TV commercial, is not exactly what Dvorak wrote, although I don't know where the errors are. Vaughan has been trying for years to get a record company to let him record the symphonies in new versions, based more faithfully on the composer's manuscripts. But, to-date, I am not sure the project has ever got off the ground.

 

Of course, the cynical among us believe that some publishers deliberately publish misprints, so that when the copyright is about to expire, they can republish with some of the misprints corrected, thus keeping their stranglehold on a piece for another 75 years.

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Given the shameful record of one well-known French music publiser, it is perfectly possible that there are inaccuracies in Louis Vierne's published symphonies. The only way of telling for sure is to go back to the manuscripts. Even then, you have to bear in mind that Vierne was blind for most of his adult life and, therefore, probably relied on dictating his compositions, which could have created the opportunity for the introduction of errors to his scores as they were being committed to paper.

 

 

Well, he was not totally blind - he could see colours and moving shapes.

 

Apparently he did not normally use an emanuensis; rather, he used large sheets of manuscript paper, on which he would write only a few bars (often one bar) in thick blue crayon.

 

The other problem stems from the fact that he would occasionally mis-correct proofs - thus introducing mistakes not previously present. As you say, most French publishers need no help in the inclusion of errors or omissions!

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