Marble Surface

Joseph Lanner

Labyrinth Walzer, Op. 109

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My transcription of the Mechetti orchestral parts of this waltz by Joseph Lanner. The parts don’t look as if they have ever been played from and there are inconsistencies between the various instrumental parts. I have “fixed” the ones that don’t look like they are deliberate.

It’s a good Lanner waltz, but without the interesting harmonies that appear in his later works. The coda is still a bit unstructured with a lot of new music included. It is really good to hear the notes he actually wrote.

As with all the Lanner waltzes I have ever seen it is unplayable, as written, on a modern orchestra. Lanner uses four trumpets – one “mit Maschine” in E, two in D (not specified as valve instruments, but the parts are chromatic) and one natural trumpet in A basso. All four trumpets have parts written in a register such that modern trumpets can’t play some or all of them. Two of the trumpets double on horns in D. In some places these are written as if they were natural instruments (i.e. all the notes are achievable without valves or hand stopping) but elsewhere either very good hand stopping is required, or the instruments have valves. My money is on the latter because the horn writing is so limited as to make it likely these are trumpet players playing horn rather than the other way round.

It has been a useful exercise for me in learning more about Lanner’s orchestration to guide me in future arrangements of his works. I am not aiming to produce “what Lanner would have written” as Lanner himself orchestrates the same tunes in different ways in different places, so it’s pretty much impossible. I don’t want to produce something completely alien however. I have been a bit worried that I have been going over the top on the trumpet writing in particular, but it would seem I’ve not been aggressive enough. Otherwise, I have had a bit of fun entering the Violin I part first, thinking how I would orchestrate it and then comparing it to Lanner. A couple of themes I got almost note perfect. Most were more or less right and sounded close. In some places I wasn’t in the same ballpark. There’s room for improvement.

If anyone has any public domain Lanner full scores or parts that I could have a copy of, I would be very interested. I can get piano scores easily but orchestral material is expensive or time consuming to get hold of.