A while back we promised that we would tell you more about some exciting finds we made in a donation of cello music. So, here goes…As well as making lots of useful additions to our stock, we came across three extremely rare examples of early nineteenth-century opera arrangements for cello and piano. The works might not be well known today, but they offer a fascinating insight into contemporary music-making. They were composed with the domestic amateur market in mind, a growing middle-class group of people who could afford music, instruments and trips to the opera, and wanted to be able to recreate their favourite opera tunes in the home.
The first two pieces are arrangements by Friedrich Kummer of Ferdinand Hérold’s comic opera Le Pré aux Clercs. This opera had first been performed in Paris on 15 December 1832 and was considered to be one of the finest of its period. Kummer on the other hand was a little-known German cellist and composer who specialised in writing cello music for the amateur market. These two numbers he arranged from Le Pré aux Clerc – ‘L’élégant’ and the ‘Adagio and Rondoletto’ – were published in London soon after the premiere of the opera, demonstrating the speed with which music was adapted and travelled across Europe at this time. We also have an early edition of Le Pré aux Clerc in the special collections which formed part of Jullien’s Royal Conservatory of Music.The third example is by François Landrock and is an arrangement for cello and piano of Daniel Auber’s comic opera Le Domino Noir. This opera was first performed in Paris on 2 December 1837 and, again, was hugely successful throughout Europe. Landrock was a professor at the Geneva Conservatory and made this arrangement of the main themes of Auber’s opera around 1839. We also hold various full scores, vocal scores, and recordings of Le Domino Noir in the library so you can find out for yourself why it was so popular in the early nineteenth century.
We don’t know of any other copies of these arrangements in UK libraries, so if you would like to have a look for yourself, or would like performance copies made, then please get in touch.