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Marble Surface

Philipp Fahrbach I

Nachtschwärmer, Walzer, Op. 211

00:00 / 07:45

My transcription from the autograph score in the Wien Bibliothek of this waltz by Philipp Fahrbach I, written in Marburg in 1860.

I have orchestrated several Fahrbach pieces before but this is the first score I have transcribed. I usually order one or two from the library when I visit Vienna but get discouraged by the mess of crossings out and bad handwriting. This one looked pretty clean so I have given it a go. There are still a couple of places where I have had to do some guesswork. The dynamics can be tricky. Sometimes there is just the one marking for the entire orchestra and in several places a section marked f is followed by another marked f. What happened between the two, if anything? There are pizzicati but no corresponding arco markings which means the rest of the piece should be pizzicato, in theory.

The scoring is, shall we say, individualistic. In the absence of evidence to the contrary I have usually scored Fahrbach for a contemporary Strauss or Lanner orchestra. This is scored for D flat piccolo, D flat flute, E flat clarinet, three B flat clarinets, three F horns, three F trumpets, B flat bass trumpet, trombone, bombardon, tympani, side drum and bass drum … and champagne cork. NB no bassoons or oboes. I believe at this time Fahrbach was director of a regimental orchestra so this might just be what was available. The flute and piccolo pitched in D flat might support this as I have never seen those instruments outside of a military context (although Berlioz says a D flat piccolo is brighter and more resonant in flat keys). The bombardon is unusual by this date too. Conversely, it could be Fahrbach’s continuation of Lanner’s practice. Lanner rarely does much with the oboe and bassoon and some of the trumpet writing (e.g. waltz 1A) is reminiscent of Lanner.

The waltz is definitely up to date though, although the short introduction is dropping out of fashion by 1860.

It’s my kind of waltz. Bags of energy and interesting musically too. Waltz 4A is a good example of extended waltz writing to be immediately followed by a good example of how to write a two chord, 16 bar, standard waltz without it being boring. The use of some fairly remote keys with seamless joins is notable. The pause at the end of waltz 1A must have had the dancers falling over, first time through at least.

Definitely worth squinting at the manuscript.

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