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Widor –The 10 Symphonies now in bilingual version FR/EN

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ludu

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Widor –The 10 Symphonies now in bilingual version FR/EN

PostTue Jul 12, 2022 8:58 am

Dear fellow organists,

I am pleased to announce today that I have just completed a brand new edition of the ten symphonies for organ by Charles-Marie Widor. By visiting the site https://www.lucdupuis.org/en/widor, you can get an idea of its appearance. Currently, the foreword and the edition notes are written in French, but I plan to add an English translation of the texts, as soon as I have found an English-speaking organist who can help me in this task. I have already done a translation project for the foreword (14 pages), but the translation of the edition notes (18 pages) is more delicate. Interested people can contact me from my website. I thank in advance the future collaborator who will agree to sign the English translation.

Presentation of Work

The case of the ten symphonies for organ by Charles-Marie Widor is very particular in the sense that practically all the manuscripts have disappeared, or at least remain untraceable. Only a manuscript of the tenth symphony – called Romane – is kept at the ‘Bibliothèque Nationale de France’, in an incomplete state. Many old editions, contemporaneous with Widor, remained under the exclusivity of the rights-holder publishers until Widor’s work fell into the public domain. Although these editions contain many errors, the editor owners have not seen fit to put a little order in them, which leaves the organists in front of countless unresolved questions and opens the door to misguidance, sometimes very damaging.

There are several reasons why it is difficult to understand Widor’s organ work under these conditions. We must first underline the complexity that music publishing represented at that time. The clean-up of the score was entrusted to engravers. Music was copied backwards onto metal plates using punches, a laborious task that was sometimes entrusted to small hands with little skill in music theory and musical writing. This work accomplished, the publisher was reluctant to have proofs checked by the composer before sending it to print, given the cost of correcting one or even several pages. Furthermore, Widor barely took the time to proofread his manuscripts before taking them to his publisher, who he rushed to when the ink was just dry, so he could quickly move on. And as throughout his long life, Widor revised his work a lot, many editions were published, including sometimes very different versions.

When Widor’s work fell into the public domain – in 1987 in the United States and in 2007 in Europe – a few new editions saw the light of day, but with great economy of initiative and refraining from any modification in the original formulation of the text, often equivocal, impractical, even problematic.

It therefore appeared to me the obvious need to offer an edition of the complete symphonies for organ by Widor, which meets the need for clarity on a practical level. I rely mainly on my experience as an emeritus professor of analysis and harmony at the Royal Brussels Conservatory, as well as that of a composer and organist very familiar with the French repertoire of that time. My work was not done only on the table, but largely at the console of an organ, which is one of the particularities of my approach. This therefore favors the practical aspect, but does not exclude rigor and respect for the composer’s thought. We are not in the context of a dirigiste edition, such as that of the organ works of J. S. Bach by Marcel Dupré, for example, imposing his personal vision of interpretation. All the interventions in the score are indicated in the edition notes, so that they appear clearly to the eyes of the interpreter, who can question them if he wishes. As for the suggestions, they are not the result of a personal choice, but of a careful analysis of the music.

The score has been completely rewritten for the sake of clarity, playability and a good understanding of musical signs, the meaning of which has sometimes changed over the past century. As far as clarity is concerned, numerous redundant indications are removed, passages written on four staves reduced to three, and those written in the C clef presented in the G and F clefs. As for playability, an ergonomic distribution between the two hands is proposed, facilitating at the same time legato playing and substitutions, a practice often forgotten these days. Also, hand crossovers are rewritten to avoid them in most cases. Solutions are offered for instruments with a combiner, 61-note manuals, and a 32-note pedalboard. The unplayable features are the subject of an adaptation proposal in order to achieve a result as close as possible to the initial writing. Finally, with reference to the musical practices of Widor’s time (explained in detail in the foreword), a rewriting according to our contemporary habits of reading indications having changed meaning allows a better understanding of the appropriate phrasing.

This new edition of Widor’s symphonies for organ in ten volumes therefore offers a clear answer to the many questions that performers of this music may ask themselves and now allows each organist to approach these ten symphonies from the angle of their choice. This integral is also available in three volumes, bringing together opus 13, opus 42 and the last two symphonies. The scores are presented in landscape format, which is perfectly appropriate for an organ console. Each score or volume is also available as a PDF file with links from the summary for multimedia tablets or e-ink readers.

All this fully justifies the term ‘practical edition’ that could be attributed to this publication.
Last edited by ludu on Sat Aug 27, 2022 4:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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sjkartchner

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Re: Widor – A New Edition of the 10 Symphonies for Organ

PostTue Jul 12, 2022 4:00 pm

Wow! What an impressive effort. I will look forward to the English editions.
Stan Kartchner, Tucson, AZ USA
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ludu

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Re: Widor – A New Edition of the 10 Symphonies for Organ

PostTue Aug 23, 2022 4:52 am

Dear fellow organists,

Today, I am pleased to announce that the bilingual version (French/English) is now available. The translation was done by English-speaking organist Andrew Carter, who even took care to use American and English terminologies side by side (e.g. eighth note = quaver), so that everyone is comfortable with his (her) reading habits.

This is the very first complete edition of Widor’s Ten Organ Symphonies to be published in landscape format and whose engraving, paper and binding are of very high quality. The texts that surround each symphony finally make it possible to understand how to perform Widor and how to solve the many problematic cases. And yet the price of this edition is two to three times cheaper than the other musicological editions currently on the market.

Each symphony can be acquired separately or in more economical volumes grouping together several symphonies. Also, in both cases, you can choose between the traditional sheet music or the PDF version. The PDF version is mainly designed for reading on a tablet or an e-reader. But it can also be used as a print-at-home edition, which costs about 2/3 the price of the sheet music, for those who are looking above all for a crushed price.

All the information as well as excerpts from the score can be viewed at https://www.lucdupuis.org/en/widor. Thank you in advance for your visit to my site.

Regards,
Last edited by ludu on Mon Sep 26, 2022 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Romanos

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Re: Widor – A New Edition of the 10 Symphonies for Organ

PostTue Aug 23, 2022 12:53 pm

These editions look very fine, indeed, and the engraving is superbe! Merci beaucoup pour votre éffort.
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ludu

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Re: Widor – A New Edition of the 10 Symphonies for Organ

PostWed Aug 24, 2022 4:50 am

Many thanks for your encouragement!
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Re: Widor –The 10 Symphonies now in bilingual version FR/EN

PostFri Sep 02, 2022 9:06 am

This looks fantastic! I bought volume II PDF.

One question I have -- the landscape page orientation is beautiful in print, I'm sure, but for reading on ForScore on an iPad, it's hard to deal with -- there's no way to see two pages at a time.

Is there any possibility of a "portrait" orientation PDF or would that just be too much work to re-flow everything?

Even if the portrait mode simply had two scaled-down landscape pages filling the top and bottom of each page, I think that would be more useful on an e-reader.

Thoughts?

Thanks again for this wonderful publication!
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ludu

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Re: Widor –The 10 Symphonies now in bilingual version FR/EN

PostFri Sep 02, 2022 10:09 am

Hello and thank you very much for your encouragement!

Displaying two pages in portrait orientation would be difficult to read, because the score would be too small, even with an e-reader such as BOOX Max Lumi, the largest on the current market. In addition, Widor’s music is so dense that the portrait orientation does not allow for a nice layout. If you want to display two pages at once, the best way in Forescore is to use Dual Page Mode with a second device. This function has been available since version 1.4 of this software. Another less expensive but less convenient solution is to use the Half-page Turns feature, also available in Forscore.

To answer your question about the engraving work, I must specify that the entry of notes is done very quickly, but that the layout represents at least 90% of the work.

Kind regards,
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Re: Widor –The 10 Symphonies now in bilingual version FR/EN

PostFri Sep 02, 2022 10:49 am

Thanks for your reply! I think you're right that it would be a bit too small the way I suggested (I tried it). It's almost readable haha

The half-page turn feature in ForScore doesn't really work with these landscape pages -- it just turns half of the landscape page at the top of the screen. The bottom of the screen remains empty even if I drag the divider down.

The dual-page mode option is tempting. I'll consider it.

If you *do* decide to offer a portrait-oriented PDF publication, I would be a customer (and I would buy vol. 2 again in portrait mode) :) -- I know that one person's purchase is not enough to justify the work, though.

Thanks!
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Re: Widor –The 10 Symphonies now in bilingual version FR/EN

PostFri Sep 09, 2022 9:07 am

Well, and as a music engraver myself, I can assure you that it is a very non-trivial task to re-engrave this music with the same degree of finesse as the initial editions. That takes a LOT of work, even if the program you are working in gets you most of the way there automagically.

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