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Arrangement of six organ concertos by Handel for piano four-hands. The original title was: G. F. Händel, Sechs Orgelkonzerte, nach den Originalen für Klavier zu vier Händen bearbeitet (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1905).

It is unclear how far Universal Edition wished to go. Handel produced sixteen organ concertos (depending on how one counts them), of which Opp. 4 and 7 contained six each. UE pre-assigned two plate numbers (UE 936 and 937), and advertized two volumes; Schenker produced one volume, and then refused to deliver the second.

Publication History

Volume I

The idea of an arrangement of Handel organ concertos was first proposed by Universal Edition directly upon publication of Schenker's Contribution to the Study of Ornamentation , in a letter of July 23, 1903 (OC 52/9): [We] take the liberty of inquiring whether you would interested in undertaking the arrangement (Bearbeitung) for piano four-hands of the Handel Organ Concertos. / In the event of your accepting this offer, we ask you to add your esteemed signature to the enclosed publisher's slip (Verlagschein) and to return it.

Schenker signed and returned the "slip" on the 25th (OC 52/10), whereupon the publisher sent him a score of the works. This Schenker returned in the first week of June 1904 together with his arrangements of the first six concertos (OC 52/14). He received proofs on October 18, 1904, with a request for the manuscript copy of volume II (OC 52/394). Volume I was published on March 11, 1905 in a print-run of 1,000 copies, pre-publication copies being dispatched to Schenker on March 1 (OC 52/16), and complimentary copies being sent out around the publication date (OC 52/17).

Volume II

What happened over the planned second volume is reported by Schenker himself in a later, undated note (OC 52/390): When, after publication of vol. I, I sought a modest improvement in the honorarium (100 Kronen) for vol. II, vol. II was simply summarily taken away from me and given to Mr. Brandt-Buys. My work was thus destroyed ...

He remarked parenthetically in the same note: The work is sui generis, no mere four-hands transcription like the typical sort; it was, for example, played publicly in concert in Munich ‒ something that doesn't usually happen with such four-hands transcriptions.

Schenker received a sharply-worded letter from Weinberger and Herzmansky on June 20, 1904 (OC 52/391), stating that the honorarium agreed was "the highest we have ever agreed to pay, under any circumstances, for four-hands arrangements." It seems clear from this that UE had always intended a distinction between "arrangements" (for a popular amateur market, lower honorarium) and "editions" (for a small professional market, higher honorarium). Schenker was paid the second half of the honorarium for volume I, and the matter seemed closed; but UE wrote again in June 1906, asking when they might expect the material for volume II, and stating that they had orders outstanding; and the matter rumbled on into late September of that year (OC 52/20, 295, 296). The volume was eventually, as Schenker states, transferred to Jan Willem Frans Brandts Buys, the volume being assigned the plate number UE 1555, and the old plate number, UE 937 being left unfulfilled, the publication date being probably 1908.

The Handel Organ Concertos arrangements are probably the least known of all Schenker's published works. No copy exists in either the Oster Collection or the Oswald Jonas Memorial Collection; nor is there any sign of preparatory materials, let alone of a complete but unpublished volume II.


  • Ian Bent

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