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Open Goldberg Variations Project

Since December 2010, IMSLP has been working together with the Open Goldberg Variations project to help produce a new score and recording of Bach’s iconic masterpiece. We are happy to announce that both parts of the project have completed, and are now available on IMSLP.

The Open Goldberg Variations recording was made by pianist Kimiko Ishizaka in the Teldex Studio, Berlin, in January 2012, on a Bösendorfer 290 Imperial. Anne-Marie Sylvestre is the producer. The score was made and edited by Werner Schweer using the MuseScore notation program. Two rounds of public peer review contributed to the high quality of the score.

The works are listed on IMSLP as being governed by the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, but in fact, have been released into the public domain by the team who created them. It was the intention of the Open Goldberg team to use the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) tool for the licensing, but this option is not yet available on IMSLP.

Classical Music & Laughter

Classical musicians fall off stages, run puffing after thieves who’ve stolen their music case, develop hiccups just before a solo, and lose their toupée to a gust of wind at an outdoor concert.

Classical music can be deadly serious — Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs — but also pompous and ‘up itself.’ Classical musicians, especially those who’ve been told from age four that they’re geniuses, can be insufferable. That’s not an argument for dumbing down, classical crossover, or endless Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on Classic FM.

But it is possible, reasonable, even desirable, to laugh at, say, a puffed up operatic tenor, full of noise, wind, and a keen sense of his own importance, who falls, mid-aria, into the orchestra pit…. on condition only his pride is hurt. If laughter pops his ego, like a deflated balloon, where’s the harm in that? Indeed, a bit of laughter-induced humility might improve him as a musician.

Readers are cordially invited to submit articles, comments, tweets, facebook mentions etc describing humorous, even subversive, events in the classical music world.

Classical Musicians & Alternative Therapy

Performing classical music is exciting, stressful and full of enormous highs and lows. Other professions are more stressful, e.g. fire fighting, soldiering or the mountain rescue service but, nevertheless, classical musicians do suffer from real anxiety and physical strain.

Anyone who has performed before 2,000 people knows about sweating palms, butterflies in the stomach, loss of appetite, and other symptoms of fight-or-flight, adrenaline-flushed, anxiety. Anyone who has practised eight hours a day for months or years on end, knows about the pressure that places on the human body.

Stage fright or performance anxiety is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience… Source

To stay emotionally and physically fit, many classical musicians use special techniques to help resolve the anxiety and mitigate the bodily stresses and strains. One of the roles of a good teacher is to recommend, and then monitor, such techniques. A violinist with repetitive strain injury is in a potentially career-destroying state. A pianist whose hands sweat so much during a concert that his fingers slip on the keys may not win that piano competition, or receive good reviews from the critics.

What can be done to solve or mitigate these problems? The key is a good teacher. One of their roles is to keep their students mentally and physically fit. They may recommend relaxation techniques, e.g. yoga, massage, aromatherapy, or certain mental “tricks” to deal with stage fright. They will look at posture to ensure that strain placed on the body by prolonged practise is not damaging. They’ll keep a look out for conditions which require the attention of a medical practitioner.

Quite often, stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often a long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in the hands and legs, sweaty hands, diarrhoea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth, erectile dysfunction. Source

I sell IMSLP merchandise in central London and also supply aromatherapy oils: the widest range of essential oils in central London. A procession of musicians from the London orchestras, ensembles and music colleges arrive to buy the oils and other preparations designed to aid the combat of stress.

They drip the oils on a handkerchief, to be inhaled before or during a concert. They use them in massage – diluted with a carrier – to relieve muscles aching from prolonged practise. They add them to a bath or drip them on their pillow to aid sleep, before or after a concert. Various types of lavender and chamomile are the most popular, but jasmine, bergamot, clary sage, geranium, orange and sandalwood are also effective.

Other calming, stress relieving and relaxing oils include: patchouli, neroli, ylang ylang, angelica, cedar, cistus (rock rose), citronella, cypress, mandarin, may chang and melissa.

… “fight or flight” syndrome, a naturally occurring process in the body done to protect itself from harm. “…The neck muscles contract, bringing the head down and shoulders up, while the back muscles draw the spine into a concave curve. This, in turn, pushes the pelvis forward and pulls the genitals up, slumping the body into a classic fetal position” Source

Nothing should replace a medical practitioner, qualified in Western medicine, when a musician is physically or mentally unwell. But there are limits to what Western drugs can achieve, and controversy surrounds the use of beta-blockers by classical musicians suffering from stage fright. Some doctors will not prescribe them. Some people view them as having the same status as performance enhancing drugs consumed by corrupt athletes. They can have nasty side effects. Classical music audiences may not be too keen listening to drugged musicians. The Royal Albert Hall is not Glastonbury!

So there is a role within classical music for essential oils, massage, yoga, reiki, the Alexander Technique and other complementary therapies. The tradition goes back deep into human history. The Romans drank a Lavender infusion to help them sleep and introduced the plant to Southern Britain.

Pupils will dilate giving someone the inability to view any notes they have in close proximity, however, long range vision is improved making the speaker more aware of their audience’s facial expressions and non verbal cues in response to the speaker’s performance. Source

Frances & Sara – Silver & Semiprecious Stone Jewellery at St James’s

Exotic silver and semiprecious stone jewellery from Frances and Sara at Piccadilly Market in the courtyard of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London.

One of a series of articles on the market at St James’s Church Piccadilly where IMSLP merchandise is available at the stall.

Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church PiccadillyFrances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church PiccadillyFrances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 3Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 4Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 5Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 6Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 7Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 10Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 11Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 8Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 12Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 14Frances & Sara - silver & semiprecious jewellery St James's Church Piccadilly - 13


Magic at St James’s Church, Piccadilly

More magic at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London, yesterday with the Royal College of Music String Band rehearsing for a concert inside and Davina Fox-Hill displaying a stall with a giant chandelier in the market outside.


One of a series of articles on the music and market at St James’s Church Piccadilly where IMSLP merchandise is available at the stall.

Maggie Cole & Jacqueline Ross at St James’s Church, Piccadilly

Fabulous lunchtime recital at St James’s Church in London’s Piccadilly yesterday, with Maggie Cole, fortepiano, and Jacqueline Ross, violin, in a programme including Schubert’s Rondo in B minor and the “Trockne Blumen” Variations in a version for violin.

I mentioned I was selling IMSLP merchandise in the courtyard outside and Maggie Cole was kind enough to let me photograph her rehearsing. She confirmed she is a regular IMSLP user but, unfortunately, does not wear T-shirts – except possibly when gardening – or I would have given her the new IMSLP T-shirt in exchange for these wonderful images.

Maggie Cole’s website

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IMSLP Luxury Christmas Card

imslp luxury christmas card

Only thirteen weeks, four days to Christmas! Stock up on IMSLP luxury Christmas cards, featuring a design based on Petrucci’s Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, the earliest-ever printed polyphonic music. Mounted on hand-made 450 g/m cloth card, c. 13cm x 13cm. Available from

For each x4 pack purchased, £2.00 is donated to IMSLP to help with their server and other costs, £0.50 donated for single cards.

IMSLP Luxury Christmas Card - extract

Project Hindemith

Thanks to daphnis from the IMSLP Forums for this:

Paul Hindemith

The complete public domain (US) works of Paul Hindemith have been uploaded to IMSLP’s US server. These sixteen works represent the complete offerings of all that is free by Hindemith and span from his early dramatic works to much of his chamber works (four of his early string sonati, two string quartets (score and parts), a standard in the wind quintet repertoire, the Kleine Kammermusik).