Wiener Urtext in conversation with Nils Franke, author of the Urtext Primo Series
Tell me about the Urtext Primo Series.
Urtext Primo is aimed at piano students, teachers and enthusiasts. Each book groups together the works of three composers. This is a thematic link. For example, Volume 2 features the works of Haydn, Mozart and Cimarosa, all of them keyboard players who were active in the second half of the eighteenth century. Volume 4 groups together Schumann, Brahms and Kirchner who were personally, as well as stylistically, connected.
What are Urtext Primoís unique features?
Each book contains music of diverse technical demands and covers about two to three years of student development. That means that using these books will enable students to return to these collections several times during their studies, ensuring excellent value for money. In terms of the collections themselves, each book contains specific information on performance practice, as well as practice tips. As a series, Urtext Primo offers the combination of standard repertoire with lesser-known works. This gives students access to the most popular works of a composer, as well as the opportunity to play equally deserving but less established pieces.
How would you expect students and teachers to use these anthologies?
This can happen in a number of ways. From the perspective of an ongoing series, I do think that adding one book at a time will soon enable students and teachers to build up a personal library of standard teaching repertoire. Dipping in and out of these books for different purposes can be a useful thing as well. For example, Handelís Prelude from HWV 437 could be used as a repertoire piece for the development of articulation. Itís an effective piece in performance that and can also double as an opportunity for working on improvisation skills for slightly more advanced players. I think that much of the music selected can serve a variety of purposes, depending on the musical focus of a studentís learning.
What are the repertoire surprises that students and teachers can expect?
There are quite a few! Handelís keyboard works are fantastic music, yet donít feature as often in lessons as they should. Itís immensely pianistic writing. Much as Handel as a composer doesnít need an introduction, quite a few of his keyboard works are yet to be included in the canon of teaching repertoire. Cimarosaís sonatas in Vol. 2 are quite simply amazing works for students. In fact, if someone had suggested writing music that is short, idiomatic, memorable, and inspired, that would just about summarize these works. And there is more to come. But I donít want to give it all away now!
Do you have any personal favorites amongst the music published so far?
Hmm, thatís a difficult question. I guess Handelís Prelude in G HWV 442 for its boldness (yet it is so accessible to young players), Scarlattiís Sonata K. 95 for its hand crossings, Haydnís Andante in A Hob. I:53/II for its musical variety, and Cimarosaís Sonata C. 68 for its immediate appeal. But these are very personal choices. I am sure that many students and teachers would chose different pieces in these books, but for equally valid reasons.
How do you see the series evolve?
As the series progresses it will cover music form the 18th century to 20th century compositions, thereby giving students access to a wide range of music that has been compiled to form the basis of a structured piano curriculum. The idea is not, of course, to do this in a prescriptive way. Instead, I like the idea of giving students and teachers access to music that has been graded, so that players can then construct their own overall curriculum from a range of options instead of following a more rigid approach. As someone who has taught piano for many years, and has worked with piano teachers for fifteen years, I recognize the importance that repertoire knowledge and selection can have in a piano lesson. Finding music that captures a playerís imagination is an immensely powerful tool for learning, and for a studentís success in playing the piano.
What are you working on now?
The content of Vol.3 is already selected and that of Vol.4 is almost complete. I am currently playing through a selection of teaching pieces by a range of mid to late19th century composers. Quite apart from the sheer pleasure of getting to know more music, I am continuously surprised by the diversity of musical invention. And for every 10-15 pieces played, there is one quite exceptional. All good material for the ongoing Urtext Primo database!
Urtext Primo Ė a perfect approach to piano literature
With the new Urtext Primo series, the Wiener Urtext Edition wants to close the gap arising at the point of transition to additional lessons after having studied a piano method.
Beginning with a performance level which is outlined by pieces such as Bach's Minuet in G (BWV Anh. 116), Mozart's Minuet in F (KV 5) or Schumann's Wilder Reiter (Op. 68/8), works by three different composers are selected for each volume of the Urtext Primo series, with the aim of offering piano pupils (or even adults who want to resume piano playing) a wide range of repertoire pieces on the basis of which they can enhance their technical and musical skills. The pieces' range of levels of difficulty is relatively narrow so that the volume can be used continuously over a period of about two years. This is what distinguishes the Urtext Primo approach from almost all common anthologies. The selected repertoire takes into account not only pieces of the classic canon of lessons, but also lesser known works which are in no way of less importance for piano lessons. The Urtext Primo volumes are published in the internationally recognised standard of the Wiener Urtext editions. The explanations included in each volume shall help to deepen the knowledge of musical styles, music history and piano playing. A repertoire chart at the end of each volume gives a rough overview of the levels of difficulty of the selected pieces.Easy original piano works
Musically and technically varied repertoire
Relatively narrow band of complexity of repertoire
covering about 2 years of development
High quality Urtext edition
Includes a teaching and learning
40 Years Wiener Urtext Edition Ė A Publishing House in its Prime
40 years experience in music editing: scholarly, critical, perfomer-oriented and authentic Ė with adedication to constant improvement!
Since its founding in 1972 as a subsidiary of the publishers Universal Edition and B. Schottís Söhne, the Wiener Urtext Edition has, with its superbly researched and prepared editions, made a name for itself as a forward-looking publisher of scholarly sound and informative urtext performing editions.
Appreciated by musicians, educators, scholars and amateurs alike, the Wiener Urtext Edition has a wellestablished reputation of vouching for a reliable urtext, with a catalogue that meanwhile comprises the major works of classical music ranging from the Baroque period to the 20th century.
The fact that the original focus on keyboard music has broadened in the course of time to include literature for winds and strings has certainly done a lot to enrich the publishing program of the Wiener Urtext Edition, which now also features works such as Debussyís Syrinx or Reineckeís Undine Sonata as well as Bachís Solo Cello Suites or Schumannís Violin Sonatas.
During the last years a few musical works could be rediscovered by musical research, e.g. the so-called Bolzano Sonata by Joseph Haydn or the album leaf Ahnung by Robert Schumann. They have been published in Wiener Urtext edition for the first time as well as the three versions of the Adagio from Mozartís Sonata in C minor K. 457.
In addition to finding new material to incorporate into its program, the Wiener Urtext Edition accords high priority to the educational idea of introducing young musicians to authentic music-making. The Clavierbüchlein for Anna Magdalena Bach or Schumannís Album for the Young, for instance, constitute an enrichment of the beginnerís catalogue just as much as Chopinís Easiest Preludes or the Pathways to Franz Liszt.
Numerous booklets such as Mozart Ė Stations of his Life as Reflected in his Piano Music or Great Composers in the Piano Lesson are attractively designed Ďtastersí providing a musical and historical introduction to a very diverse range of topics.