Monday, April 6th, 2015...2:35 pm

Reconstructing Gallenberg

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Wonderful news: my predecessor as Ward Music Cataloger here at Houghton, Morris S. Levy, has just published a modern edition of the full score to Furio Camillo, one of the manuscript Wenzel Robert von Gallenberg ballets in the Ward Collection, which Morris researched under the auspices of a Houghton Visiting Fellowship. He has been working at Northwestern University for some time now, and since we planned to meet at the recent Music Library Association annual meeting in Denver, we thought it might be fun to do a little interview about his experience with the project. And while Morris has published other projects, including three excellent catalogs of portions of the Ward Collection, this reconstruction provided him with some interesting challenges, as you will see.

Gallenberg printed Furio Camillo cover

Gallenberg printed Furio Camillo cover



Andrea Cawelti: I’m sitting here with Morris Levy, newly published author of a reconstruction of Furio Camillo, a ballet by Wenzel Robert von Gallenberg.

Morris Levy: Hello, people in Radioland.

A: First of all, this is a wonderful publication; I’m thrilled to see it in print at last, and what I really wanted to ask you about first though is how did you get interested in Gallenberg, who is Gallenberg?

M: Gallenberg as a person, was one of those Austrian princes, dilettantes, who for whatever reason found out that he had a knack for composition, and as he had some money and didn’t have to worry about trying to make a living, he went to the right teachers, like Albrechtsberger, one of Beethoven’s teachers. It’s not exactly clear to me how his career began; he was not associated with a court for example, he didn’t have an appointment as such, but he managed to make a career for himself composing stage works of various kinds. When he was in Vienna he composed Singspiels, and then started focusing on ballet, and after a time in Vienna he was invited to Naples, where he became the house composer for the school of dance at the Teatro San Carlo. There, he composed over 90 ballets that I could trace. Furio Camillo was his final ballet, performed in October 1838; he died in March of 1839.

A: You got some exposure to Gallenberg while working in the Ward Collection at Houghton, I’m guessing?

M: That is correct [laughter—Professor Ward collected a LOT of Gallenberg], while I was a project cataloger working on John Ward’s ballet collection. This was one of the items in the Italian ballet collection. Of the items in the Italian ballet coll., this was the only complete, full manuscript of a ballet prior to 1850. I think for that reason it was of particular interest to Ward, and he felt that something should be done with the manuscript, because nearly all of Gallenberg’s ballet scores that survive are still in Naples. This may be the only full score of a complete ballet that managed to get out of Italy.

A: You say it’s a full score, but you certainly had some choices to make in going through, in terms of how you were going to put it together in your reconstruction. You mention in your preface various choices that you made about instrumentation and such. Give me an idea of some of the challenges that you faced?

Gallenberg Furio Camillo manuscript page 39

Gallenberg Furio Camillo manuscript page 39

M: From what I could tell from the manuscript, and from his life and output, he had to work very fast. There are a lot of repeats in his works, and he had a fascinating way of notating this: he would have various siglia that he would use, and then however many measures later he would have a number, and that would tell me how which siglia connected to the repeat. And so my quandary on that was whether to write out the repeat, or reproduce his system, which I decided not to do, given the requirements of the publishers. It also seemed less practical to use today, to make someone be flipping all around all the time.

A: And I guess performers wouldn’t be used to this today either, whereas in the day maybe this would have been standard practice?

Gallenberg Furio Camillo printed page 93

Gallenberg Furio Camillo printed page 93, shows the reconstruction of the manuscript page above

M: Well no, remember, a performer wouldn’t have seen this: this was the full score to send to copyists. The performers would have received parts. The parts might have had repeats but perhaps not quite so insanely. You would have passages where Gallenberg would bar 4 measures, with measures 1-2 barred so that you would actually repeat those 2 measures, so to perform it, you would do measures 1-2, 1-2, and then repeat all of that 1-4. So that may be a little more than a modern performer could take, especially if they had to page back and forth. So you’re right, but I don’t think in the parts it was to this degree. This was for the copyist to know: this is where I’m picking it up from. Within reason performers could do it, but in the score it is just repeat, go back 16 bars, and then we take it up from there. These little sections could pop up anywhere. Some of the things in considering modernizing it: he notated probably the way that he thought. So, for example, the bassoons were written with the trombones, probably because he was thinking of the lower instruments. He would constantly change the order, too: the strings would always be on bottom, but everything else could be anywhere! For the kind of score that I wanted to produce, I needed to keep it all in modern score order. He also, in particular with the horns, wrote them in various keys, so I had a lot of transposing to do. Again, I could have followed what he did, but it would have been so impractical for anyone trying to read it. People today might be familiar with horns in F, but horns in E-flat, or in D, would make no sense, so I opted to keep everything in C …

…[Andrea here] I just wanted to give you a little taste of our discussion. We went on to explore several other aspects of this unusual project, and you can access the full interview here.
Levy Interview (complete)
The score is available for purchase on the publisher’s website, under Gallenberg. Congratulations, Morris!

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

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