Lost and found music, two centuries apart
Two concerts this week offer lost and found music, two centuries apart. On a Monday Boston Early Music Festival Fringe concert, Philip Serna performs the 12 “Lost” Fantasias for solo viola da gamba by Georg Philipp Telemann. Prior to their 2014 rediscovery by performer Thomas Fritzsch, scholars knew of the Fantasias only because Telemann advertised their 1735 publication — one of many of his works that Telemann published, marketed, and, perhaps, even engraved himself. Music publishers flourished in the late 17th century, but by Telemann’s time, piracy had taken a bite; interested consumers hand-copied published scores rather than buying them.
But Telemann, prominent and prolific, sensed possibilities. Then as now, self-publication was often via subscription, prepaid customers underwriting the printing’s overhead. Telemann’s surviving subscriber lists stretch from his Hamburg home to France, Amsterdam, London. Subscribers to the Fantasias enjoyed a 20 percent discount on music both old-fashioned and cutting-edge: Solo viol music was passing out of fashion, but rarely, if ever, had been published for public sale. Only a few years later, Telemann abandoned the publishing business, still successful but tired of the time commitment.
On Wednesday, on the Methuen Memorial Music Hall’s historic organ, irrepressible Boston organist Peter Krasinski performs a wide-ranging program, including a classic of complicated authorship: “In the Mood,” made famous in 1939 by Glenn Miller, credited to Joe Garland (music) and Andy Razaf (lyrics), but based on a riff that had been around for nearly a decade. The theme bowed in New Orleans-born trumpeter Joseph “Wingy” Manone’s 1930 recording “Tar Paper Stomp,” then migrated to Fletcher Henderson’s 1931 version of Don Redman’s “Hot and Anxious” and to “There’s a Rhythm in Harlem,” written by Garland for the Mills Blue Rhythm Band. That band’s pianist, Edgar Hayes, recorded the first version of what was now called “In the Mood” with his own band in 1938. Garland then sold it to Miller.
Such was the loophole: Recordings couldn’t establish copyright, but writing the music down — as Garland did — could. And the disputed ownership was common knowledge at the time. Down Beat magazine noted the similarity of “Tar Paper Stomp” and “Hot and Anxious” in 1938; Manone later wrote to the magazine, sarcastically thanking Miller and Garland for rescuing his tune from obscurity.
One principal without credit probably did more than anyone to ensure the song’s success. In previous versions, the familiar, loping arpeggios were one idea among several. The Miller version strips away just about everything but the riff and its chorus — ruthlessly effective editing that (according to trombonist Paul Tanner) was done by Miller himself in rehearsal. The tune was old news, but Miller, like Telemann, saw — and heard — an opportunity.
New Comma Baroque’s Philip Serna performs Telemann’s 12 Fantasias for Solo Viol, June 12, 9 a.m. at Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Suggested donation $15. www.newcommabaroque
.org, www.bemf.org. Organist Peter Krasinski performs music from Bach to Bernstein at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall, June 14, 8 p.m. Tickets: $12, children $5. www.mmmh.org
An earlier version mischaracterized the form in which Telemann’s lost Fantasias were discovered.