Tag Archives: Joseph Wolfl

Published Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

The Archive contains evidence of some ways in which notated music was reproduced and circulated outside the usual methods of printed publication and private manuscript copying.  Below are examples of “published” manuscripts and printed ephemeral publications, showing how music outside the larger music trade might be acquired, played, and heard by amateur musicians.

Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music was a quarterly compilation of music produced in copyist’s manuscript and sold by subscription:

Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music (London, circa 1806). First Number. Cover

Though the cover and title page were printed, the contents were in manuscript, copied by hand for each subscriber.  The Archive contains the first two issues; an advertisement pasted in the first issue gives the terms of subscription:

Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music (London, circa 1806). First Number. Advertisement

The publisher was Frederick Schirmer, who in 1805 had been licensed to produce “musical and dramatical interludes in the German Language” at the Sans Souci Theatre, originally built by singer and impresario Charles Dibdin.  Contents of Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music were composed or arranged by Joseph Wölfl (1773-1812), an Austrian pianist and composer. A former student of Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn in Salzburg, Wölfl performed as a piano virtuoso in Vienna and other European cities, and composed opera, orchestral music, and music for solo piano. In 1805 Wölfl arrived in London, where he established a reputation as a pianist and composer before his early death in 1812.  Wölfl’s original contributions to Schirmer’s collections are music for amateur pianists, such as this rondo:

Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music (London, circa 1806). Second Number. Joseph Wölfl. Rondo

Though production in manuscript might seem to support inclusion of new or little-known music, most of Wölfl’s arrangements were excerpts from well-known operas, such as this German-language version of “Finch’ han dal vino” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, composed in 1787:

Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music (London, circa 1806). First Number. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Don Giovanni. Finch' han dal vino. German. Arranged for voice and keyboard

Or this excerpt from Nicolas Dalayrac’s Adolphe et Clara, composed in 1799, here in German with an English translation:

Schirmers Choice Manuscript Collection of Music (London, circa 1806). First Number. Dalayrac, Nicolas. Adolphe et Clara. German, with English translation

An example of printed ephemera is this keepsake version of a song by Gioacchino Rossini:

Rossini. Gioacchino. Arietta Con Accompagnamento di Piano Forte, Composed expressly for the Bazaar for the Foreigners in Distress (London: Lomax, 1833). Cover

The title page states that the music was printed in 1833 in support of a fundraising bazaar for The Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress, a charity organization patronized by William IV and other members of the royal family:

Rossini. Gioacchino. Arietta Con Accompagnamento di Piano Forte, Composed expressly for the Bazaar for the Foreigners in Distress (London: Lomax, 1833). Title page

The music is Rossini’s song La passeggiata, for soprano and piano, composed in 1831:

Rossini. Gioacchino. Arietta Con Accompagnamento di Piano Forte, Composed expressly for the Bazaar for the Foreigners in Distress (London: Lomax, 1833). Page 1

Rossini. Gioacchino. Arietta Con Accompagnamento di Piano Forte, Composed expressly for the Bazaar for the Foreigners in Distress (London: Lomax, 1833). Pages 2-3

While the presence of this keepsake indicates the royal family’s support of the Society, other contents of the Archive show a wider interest in the music of Rossini.  Vocal scores dating from the 1820s are present for Rossini’s operas La Donna del Lago, La Gazza Ladra, Il Mosé in Egitto, Semiramide, and Tancredi.

Also in the Archive is this brief unbound collection of fourteen hymns for use by the chapel of Greenwich Hospital:

Relfe, Lupton. Hymns, Composed for the Use of the Chapel of the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich.... Print (London: Galabin, 1789). Cover

Greenwich Hospital served as a residence for invalid sailors of the Royal Navy, 1694-1870.  Contents of this collection include hymns for morning and evening, as well as special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, and “Founder’s Day.”  This hymn “taken from the 107th psalm” concerns a ship in danger:

Relfe, Lupton. Hymns, Composed for the Use of the Chapel of the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich.... Print (London: Galabin, 1789). Page 6

The composer of the hymns was Lupton Relfe (died 1805), an organist at Greenwich Hospital and father of pianist and teacher John Relfe (circa 1766-circa 1837).  It is not clear if this hymn collection was intended for use in Greenwich Hospital itself, or possibly as a way of making the composer and his music more widely known.  Though no other music by Lupton Relfe is present, the Archive does contain a copy of his son’s A Set of Grand Lessons for the Harpsichord or Piano-Forte, with the composer’s signature on the title page:

Relfe, John. A Set of Grand Lessons for the Harpsichord or Piano-Forte (London: author, undated). Title page

This work was dedicated to Princesses Mary and Sophia, two of the younger daughters of George III.  The Archive’s copy bears further evidence of the work’s association with the royal family: Lousia Cheveley, who served as a nurse to the young princesses and princes signed the title page and inscribed a preliminary page, dated 1784 June 7:

Relfe, John. A Set of Grand Lessons for the Harpsichord or Piano-Forte (London: author, undated). Preliminary page