The addictive attraction of the International Music Score Library Project
As some of you know well -- because I frequently go on and on about it -- I love piano transcriptions.
Over the years, I managed to find quite a few, but not nearly as many as I could uncover in a single hour plugged into the International Music Score Library Project, one of the coolest, most addictive sites I know.
It was a hunt for transcriptions that led me to IMSLP quite a while ago, but I discovered so much more there -- 159,000 scores by more than 7,000 composers.
It's a place I never tire of visiting whenever I want to put eyes on a score quickly and -- my favorite part -- print out something that I want to add to my collection. All for free, mind you.
This is a fabulous public domain space. I suppose it may be threatened, to some extent, by the recent Supreme Court decision regarding copyright protections, but I hope that IMSLP, founded six years ago this month, survives and thrives. I have been using it for a long while now and cannot imagine not being able to access it.
Soloists and ensembles can find enough vocal and instrumental repertoire here to last a lifetime of performing -- OK, non-contemporary repertoire.
It is one of the most best examples I know of how the Web can benefit musicians.
Back to transcriptions. Just this week, on a whim, I wondered if anyone had ever done a piano arrangement of ...
Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. I was still thinking about the exquisite performance of that piece I heard performed by Jorg Widmann with Christoph Eschebach and the National Symphony recently.
The slow movement has one of Mozart's most incredibly beautiful melodies and I had this yen to play it on the piano. Well, IMSLP let me down. No transcription. Sigh. But wait. How about Mozart's Clarinet Quintet? That's got some great stuff in it, too, and might be interesting to play. And there it was. Neat.
Then, I figured, did anyone transcribe the exquisite Clarinet Quintet by Brahms? Yep, they sure did. I printed out the first movement today and hope to try it out soon.
I know some of you are thinking it makes no real sense to play pieces like this at the keyboard, but what do I care about making sense? Thanks to IMSLP, I have such goodies as the complete score to Gluck's "Iphigenie en Tauride" -- for solo piano. How sensible is that? It sure is fun, though.
I've printed out assorted lieder, symphonies and tone poems arranged for keyboard, too. "Death and Transfiguration," anyone? My articulation of the "Death" part is deadly, but I can get through the "Transfiguration" very movingly, if I do say so myself. How about Tchaikovsky's "Manfred"? Loads of fun pounding out the heavy fate theme (that really makes the cats scatter).
Anyway, my specialized interest does not begin to explain the full extent of the treasury to be savored at this site -- full orchestral scores (and individual parts), chamber works, oratorios. (I use it for plenty of music originally written for piano, too.)