An Introduction to the Gassett Collection by Peter H. Bloom
The original editions of the "Gassett Collection" pieces are contained in a single, highly important collection of musical works compiled by Henry Gassett (1813-1886) during the second quarter of the 19th century.
While an undergraduate at Harvard (A.B. 1834, A.M. 1844) Gassett was an avid musical amateur and, like so many American gentlemen of the era, adopted the flute as his instrument of choice. The Pierian Sodality was the campus fraternity for music-making, and among Gassett's fellow "Pierians" was John Sullivan Dwight. Dwight went on to become a redoubtable music critic, journalist and, as publisher of Dwight's Musical Journal for three decades (1852-81), the de-facto arbiter of American musical taste. At one point the Pierian Sodality was extremely exclusive (or perhaps merely self-selective): after Dwight's graduation in 1832, Gassett was, briefly, the sole member of the club! Undeterred, he continued to hold meetings and rehearsals and collected dues until membership increased. The Pierians continue to this day as the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra.
As an affluent musical amateur and dilettante flutist, Gassett amassed an impressive library of musical works consisting primarily of pieces for one or more flutes and piano. The collection (now held privately) comprises a remarkable anthology of European publications by composers, arrangers, and flute virtuosi.
Many compositions are entirely original, while others are of the theme-and-variations genre. Though disparaged for over a century, many of these theme-and-variations creations deserve a fresh appraisal. When they were in vogue, they and the musicians who performed them were received with enthusiasm and, occasionally, with frenzied adulation.
Noteworthy Sheet Music's "Gassett Collection" editions include both clearly legible, musician-friendly facsimiles and re-notated modern editions of these otherwise unavailable works. The goal is to expand available repertoire and to foster insight into the style, performance practice, and gestalt of the era. Music in the collection ranges from simple, yet well crafted, trio arrangements of opera airs to tour-de-force showpieces that are technically and interpretively challenging. Composers, arrangers, and virtuosi represented include Fürstenau, Gabrielski, Kummer, Tulou, Drouet, Sedlatzek, Nicholson, Berbiguier, Herz, Reissiger, Dressler, Egan, Hunten, Forde, Walckiers, and others.
In publishing this series we recall and celebrate two principles of composer/pianist/philosopher Ernst Bacon (1898-1990) from his 1963 meditations Notes on the Piano:
"Translating music from another age into our own is a subtle matter. The score, unlike the painting is but a plan - an approximation."
"Give a work a rest and it will sprout new leaves and fruits when you return to it. Each new discovery adds to your store of wisdom."
- P. H. Bloom, April 4, 2011, copyright © 2011
Noteworthy Sheet Music, LLC has been given exclusive access to the original printed editions of the Gassett Collection. We are creating either re-notated modern editions or facsimile editions of these rare historic parts and scores.
Our listings of works from the Gassett Collection may be found under the "Flute & Piano" and "Flute Duets, Trios, Quartets" categories, accessed from the drop-down menus under Sheet Music. Or, simply click on a specific Title below for a link to the individual listing.
Each of our editions comes with a detailed accounting of any modifications made to the original work, which may include removing foxing and other blemishes, darkening areas of faint printing, correcting obvious errors or omissions, and adding page or measure numbers for the players' convenience. Our editions are pdf formatted for convenient downloading and easy 2-sided printing on standard letter size paper (8.5" x 11").
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