Transcription |
Music Terms

Transcription |

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terms and concepts, musical genres

lat. transcriptio, lit. – rewriting

Arrangement, processing of a musical work, having an independent artistic value. There are two types of transcription: adaptation of a work for another instrument (for example, piano transcription of a vocal, violin, orchestral composition or vocal, violin, orchestral transcription of a piano composition); change (for the purpose of greater convenience or greater virtuosity) of presentation without changing the instrument (voice) for which the work is intended in the original. Paraphrases are sometimes erroneously attributed to the transcription genre.

Transcription has a long history, actually going back to transcriptions of songs and dances for various instruments in the 16th and 17th centuries. The development of transcription proper began in the 18th century. (transcriptions, mainly for harpsichord, of works by J. A. Reinken, A. Vivaldi, G. Telemann, B. Marcello and others, owned by J. S. Bach). In the 1st floor. 19th century Piano transcriptions, distinguished by the virtuosity of the salon type, became widespread (transcriptions by F. Kalkbrenner, A. Hertz, Z. Thalberg, T. Döhler, S. Heller, A. L. Henselt, and others); often they were adaptations of popular opera melodies.

An outstanding role in revealing the technical and coloristic possibilities of the piano was played by numerous concert transcriptions of F. Liszt (especially songs by F. Schubert, caprices by N. Paganini and fragments from operas by W. A. ​​Mozart, R. Wagner, G. Verdi; in total about 500 arrangements) . Many works in this genre were created by the successors and followers of Liszt – K. Tausig (Bach’s toccata and fugue in d-moll, Schubert’s “Military March” in D-dur), H. G. von Bülow, K. Klindworth, K. Saint-Saens, F. Busoni, L. Godovsky and others.

Busoni and Godowsky are the greatest masters of piano transcription of the post-List period; the first of them became famous for his transcriptions of works by Bach (toccatas, chorale preludes, etc.), Mozart and Liszt (Spanish Rhapsody, etudes after Paganini’s caprices), the second for his adaptations of harpsichord pieces of the 17th-18th centuries, Chopin’s etudes and Strauss waltzes.

Liszt (as well as his followers) showed a fundamentally different approach to the genre of transcription than his predecessors. On the one hand, he broke with the manner of salon pianists of the 1st floor. 19th century to fill transcriptions with empty passages that have nothing to do with the music of the work and are intended to demonstrate the virtuoso virtues of the performer; on the other hand, he also moved away from the overly literal reproduction of the original text, considering it possible and necessary to compensate for the inevitable loss of some aspects of the artistic whole when transcribing by other means provided by the new instrument.

In the transcriptions of Liszt, Busoni, Godowsky, the pianistic presentation, as a rule, is in accordance with the spirit and content of the music; at the same time, various changes in the details of melody and harmony, rhythm and form, registration and voice leading, etc., are allowed in the presentation, caused by the specifics of the new instrument (a vivid idea of ​​​​this is given by a comparison of the transcription of the same Paganini caprice – E-dur No 9 by Schumann and Liszt).

An outstanding master of violin transcription was F. Kreisler (arrangements of pieces by W. A. ​​Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, etc.).

A rarer form of transcription is orchestral (for example, Mussorgsky-Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition).

The genre of transcription, mainly piano, in Russian (A. L. Gurilev, A. I. Dyubyuk, A. S. Dargomyzhsky, M. A. Balakirev, A. G. Rubinshtein, S. V. Rachmaninov) and Soviet music (A. D. Kamensky, I. I. Mikhnovsky, S. E. Feinberg, D. B. Kabalevsky, G. R. Ginzburg, N. E. Perelman, T. P. Nikolaeva, etc.).

The best examples of transcription (“The Forest King” by Schubert-Liszt, “Chaconne” by Bach-Busoni, etc.) have enduring artistic value; however, the abundance of low-grade transcriptions created by various virtuosos discredited this genre and led to its disappearance from the repertoire of many performers.

References: School of piano transcription, comp. Kogan G. M., vol. 1-6, M., 1970-78; Busoni F., Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst, Triest, 1907, Wiesbaden, 1954

G. M. Kogan

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