Thursday, March 19th, 2015...5:55 pm

Calling all Reyer scholars

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Last night, I pulled a score out of a box to catalog, with the innocuous identification of Reyer. La Statue. I was vaguely familiar with this work, having cataloged several issues of the vocal score some years ago, in the Ward Collection of Opera Scores at our Loeb Music Library. I thought to myself, oh nice, now we have a full score also.

*2007TW-83 (837) title page

*2007TW-83 (837) title page



I do love working on the Peyrotte Collection! You can read a bit about the background, and the myriad joys of cataloging this collection in an earlier blog. Turning the page, I found an inscription from Choudens, the publisher, identifying the score as the first impression of the edition. But even for a full score, this thing weighs in like a brick, and is about as thick at 3.5 inches. Unusual for an octavo, or smaller format of score.

*2007TW-83 (837) Cast page

*2007TW-83 (837) Cast page

Under the inscription is the printed list of the cast in the first performance in Paris at the Théâtre Lyrique, 11 April 1861, which I was easily able to confirm in contemporary articles in Le Ménéstrel, by way of RIPM Online. My working hypothesis is that this inscription came to Reyer with the score, hot off the presses of the first edition in 1861. But then …

*2007TW-83 (837) Caption

*2007TW-83 (837) Caption

Paging through the score, I immediately saw that it was about half manuscript. And sure enough, on the verso of the cast page above, Reyer himself indicated that the score was corrected in his hand.

*2007TW-83 (837) Page 59

*2007TW-83 (837) Page 59

The remaining printed portions are full of little corrections here and there, changing an accidental, adding slurs over notes, correcting rests as in this case, etc. But the manuscript portions constitute a significant expansion of the score. I remembered from cataloging the vocal scores that La Statue went through several revisions, some of which are discussed in the Wikipedia article. Could this score be the basis for the second edition full score, printed in 1903 for use in the production at the Paris Opera? One of the largest manuscript inserts (at 132 pages) is a ballet.

*2007TW-83 (837) Ballet

*2007TW-83 (837) Ballet

The final clue for me came with an examination of the printed second edition full score record in the British Library catalogue online. “Including the following additional pages: 22/1-3, 23/1-5, 46 bis, 46/1-4, 51/1-3, 78/1-3, 85/1-4, 208/1-31, 245/1-8, 257/1-5, 278/1-20, 315/1, 439/1-10, 468/1-3.” Just compare this pagination (remembering that the British Library pagination will be printed rather than manuscript, and therefore take up less room) with my inserts, where the manuscript sections are noted in brackets: “1 score (iv unnumbered pages, 23, [24, 24A-24H], 25-46, [46A-46I], 47-51, [1], [52A-52H], 53-78, [13], 80-84, [14], 86-208, [20], 211-212, [48], 213-244, [20], 245-256, [16], 258-278, [24], 279-316, [132], 317-439, [13], 441-468, [8], 469-528 pages).” It seems that Choudens didn’t bother to re-paginate the score. I’m convinced! While the inserted manuscripts appear to be in a copyist hand, they still clearly document Reyer’s expansion, and provide us with a fascinating glimpse into the musical path from the Théâtre Lyrique to the Opéra. Thank you, Martin and Peyrotte, for saving this score for us.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

2 Comments

  • Tommaso Sabbatini
    March 27th, 2015 at 1:08 am

    I’m a PhD student at UChicago and I touched on Reyer in my master’s thesis. My guess is that yes, this is a score that was kept current with the opera’s revisions until the publisher saw fit to engrave a new edition. Reyer was clearly presented with this very copy by Choudens (as the dedication attests: “Premier ex[emplaire] de l’Edition offert à l’auteur / Par son éditeur devoué”), but might have returned it for the publisher to correct misprints. For sure, it was Choudens who had the added sections copied. If this score remained in the possession of Reyer, at any rate, Choudens must have had one or more identical copies to rent along with orchestral parts. So I would say that either this score or a copy thereof was probably used to prepare the new edition. As for Choudens avoiding the hassle of renumbering the pages in the new edition, I have come across similar cases in French 19th-century scores.

    La statue premiered at the Théâtre-Lyrique as an opéra comique, and Reyer later replaced the spoken dialogue with recitatives: before the Opéra, La statue was performed as a sung-through opera in Brussels (1865) and at the Paris Opéra-Comique (1878). According to Adolphe Jullien (Ernest Reyer [Paris: Henri Laurens, 1909], 35), Reyer wrote the recitatives right after the 1861 premiere, and they were first used in Weimar in 1864. It is indeed possible that Reyer chose to compose recitatives that early (or that Choudens commissioned him to do so), since that would have made the opera marketable outside France.

    Hope that was helpful. I really enjoy this blog and I look forward to more music posts!

  • Jackpot! Thank you so much for filling in a bit more context for me (especially coming from Hyde Park, my beloved natal stomping ground). I’m particularly indebted to you for the information that it would have been Choudens who actually updated this score (as the firm may have jury-rigged others) for use until the second edition was printed. One of these days if I have a moment, I’ll examine the manuscript sections more carefully, to see if Reyer corrected or changed any of them. This might answer the question once and for all about whether the score remained in Reyer’s hands after the manuscript sections were inserted.

    Serendipitously, in the same box of Martin/Peyrotte materials, I later discovered a printed score of the 2nd edition, whose inserted pagination varies slightly from the score at the British Library. The Hollis record is here:
    http://id.lib.harvard.edu/aleph/014331538/catalog
    and perhaps comparison between the three scores would prove particularly instructive. La Statue seems to be a fascinating work of its time, and now thanks to Professor Ward we have more opportunities to examine the journey of its performances. I’m delighted that you enjoy our efforts, and thanks again for reading the blog!