Marble Surface

August Lanner

Scherz Polka, Op. 16

Original Orchestration

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This is my transcription of the autograph score of this polka by August Lanner. Some years ago I found a piano score of this piece and made my own orchestration (Here - https://www.cpestrauss.com/pmusic/scherz-polka%2C-op.-16). It illustrates very well the difficulties of resurrecting pieces from piano scores: They sound very different.

Some points –

Omission – There are places where Lanner calls for members of the orchestra to sing (or at least shout “gog”). I can’t do this.

My inexperience – It was one the first pieces by August Lanner I did and I hadn’t seen any Lanner full scores at the time. If I were doing it now I would pitch the horns a little higher, as Lanner does, and maybe not make the accompaniment so clipped. That said, it wouldn’t be very different because I would still be approaching it as an ordinary polka, rather than a novelty piece. It is impossible to guess from the score that there is a solo bell part and singing.

The piano score – There are many differences between the autograph and the piano score, particularly in dynamics. Either Lanner changed his mind or whoever prepared the piano score had the same difficulty reading Lanner’s dynamic markings as I did. The differences are significant. There are four main themes in the piece. In the piano score the second is marked forte and the third is marked mezzoforte. In the autograph the second is marked piano and the third forte (with bell obligato). This completely changes the structure of the piece. Lanner’s dynamics are difficult. There is a selection in the picture. He often misses them out altogether and sometimes just puts one dynamic marking for a whole family of instruments, e.g. woodwinds, at the start of a section.

The autograph – is hastily written and has lots of errors. There are missing accidentals and lots of places where the articulation and note lengths for doubling instruments are different. I’ve fixed obvious errors (at least one of which appears in the piano score and my arrangement of it!) but left anything that might be hat the composer intended.

The bell – Lanner calls for a solo bell, without saying what kind. Anything other than a big bell would not be heard, so that is what I’ve used.