Feb 11, 2009

BLAHZEVICH - Destiny of Works in the West, by Andrey Kharlamov

In spite of the fact that his works were never entirely represented outside of Russia, Blazhevich's few compositions that came to the West did bring him significant international recognition. His works were republished multiple times in various editions in the United States to fit the needs of the whole family of low brass instruments, not only the trombone. This is how a few method books spurred dozens of different publications in the United States, essentially based on this limited amount of material.

Sparrow's dissertation serves as a good source to learn more about these numerous editions. Multiple editions of the same work give us the many subjective points of view of such editors as Reginald Fink, Jacob Raichman, Donald Hunsberger, Allen Ostrander, Andre LaFosse, and Lewis Van Haney. Blazhevich's original intentions are obscured by other co-authors like Hunsberger, who omits the entire original foreword to Blazhevich's 1925 method, upon which the publication of Clef Studies was based. The editorial alterations of the musical text in these studies are very obvious: examining one study, the progression of changes from the original 1925 school to Raichman's, and then Hunsberger's, edition of Clef Studies is clearly seen. From the standpoint of performance practice these changes cannot be welcomed, as they encourage the player to study the etudes only one way, instead of approaching them imaginatively, benefiting both technique and musicianship.

The single original publications of Blazhevich's selected works may have appeared in the United States in the early 1930s. Owing to the cooperation of the Russian State Music Publishing House (MUZGIZ) with Universal Edition Vienna-Leipzig, these evidently were among the first original works available in the Western world. Universal publications might have reached the United States in the form of single orders, but these were difficult to obtain and as Jacob Raichman mentions in his letters of 1927 and 1932, were available only in Boston and New York.

With the beginning of World War II in 1939 and the later 1941 German invasion of Russia, the cooperation between MUZGIZ and the German publisher was terminated. The iron curtain, caused by strained East-West relationships due to political turmoil post World War II (especially after NATO was organized in 1949), further aided in weakening international trade relationships. Many areas of exchange including cultural exchange were disrupted, thus inhibiting official international distribution of musical works between the countries of the Warsaw Covenant and the NATO block. In spite of the difficulty of such post-war exchange, several of Blazhevich's Russian-published compositions had already made their way to the United States in the late 1920's and 30's via private correspondence and the above said distributions by Universal Editions. This allowed American publishers (mainly, Leeds Music Corp., New York) to access a few of the original works and to eventually initiate their own publications. As it turned out, these publications were being produced under the false claim of having proper publication authorization, when indeed, no rights were ever granted.

Immediately after World War II, when for a few years the former Soviet Union and the United States were still considered allies, many additional works of Russian composers were brought over to the United States by private courier services of Leeds Music Co., later significantly contributing to the MCA (Music Corporation of America, New York) catalogue of Russian Music when in 1964 MCA bought out Leeds Co. imprints. In his article, published in the ITA Journal, Andre Smith mentions that Leeds Music Co. had indeed a courier by the name of Misha Stillman, whom at the time had recently emigrated from Russia, and delivered sheet music from Russia to Leeds per their requests.

Stillman, or couriers like him could have brought the three out of thirteen available trombone concertos by Blazhevich into the United States after World War II. However, Concerto No.2 apparently came into the US market in the 1930s, as Cundy-Bettony Music Publishers in Boston and Russian-American Music Publishers in New York had already published that piece in 1939. Concerto No.2 became one of his very first works published in the United States, and most likely, it was simply a reprint of the first original 1933 Muzgiz publication of the work. It is probable that in response to Raichman's requests Blazhevich did send the works to him as Muzgiz was publishing them.

Concerto No. 5, also available in the United States, was published in 1930 in Russia, but was reprinted in the United States by the IMC (International Music Company) in 1956, as its first copyright registration suggests, while Concerto No.2 was first published after the war in 1950 by the same publisher. The last of the three U.S. published concertos, No.10, came to the United States almost immediately after its first Russian publication in 1963. It was distributed and sold in its Russian original version by Leeds Music Co., unbeknownst to the Blazhevich family and Muzgiz authorities. It would have been rather contradictory to assume that during the Cuban crisis the countries would have had any trade relations.

Concerto No.9, however, was never published outside of Russia, although Raichman had it from the beginning. As Raichman admits in his letter to Blazhevich, Concerto No.9 was in his possession when he came to America. The very first concerto published by Muzgiz in 1926, right before Raichman's departure from Russia, the work was obviously in Raichman's library even back in Russia. Upon Raichman's request Blazhevich apparently sent him both Concerto No.2 and No.5 as Muzgiz had already published the works in the early 1930s. It is unknown why he never had Concerto No.9 published, though having brought the School for Trombone (1925), 26 Sequences (1924), Concert Duets (1926) and Legato School (1924) with him from Russia in 1926, he probably believed that they would be in better demand by students as opposed to Blazhevich's rather difficult concertos. Leeds Music Corporation and their Am-Rus editions also influenced Raichman's choice of Blazhevich's works for American publication.

Without a doubt, Jacob Raichman's Russian connection and his cooperation with Leeds Music Corp. initiated the publication of Blazhevich's works in the United States. Regretfully, Boston University Music Circulation Library partially lost the archives of Jacob Raichman that had been donated to them by the Raichman family, due to a plumbing flood. Although a few items had been shelved, the two boxes with music and documents, which had remained on the floor for over twenty years, were severely damaged, thus depriving access to important historic materials.

Many years elapsed before the second major arrival of Blazhevich's compositions occurred in the United States. Beginning in August 1974, Prof. William Cramer of Florida State University was in active correspondence with Prof. Victor Venglovsky of the Leningrad State Conservatory, resulting in an extensive exchange of trombone literature between these two known pedagogues. Venglovsky sent Cramer the remainder of the 13 Trombone Concertos (only Concerto Nos. 2,5 and 10, were previously available in the United States), and many other Russian works for trombone as well. The professors became good friends through their correspondence, even though they never met in person. Unfortunately, the once stunning collection of trombone solo literature by William Cramer on which he spent most of his life collecting, as documented in the Florida State University library catalog and other research documents, is missing many titles including those by Vladislav Blazhevich. Fortunately, the 13 Trombone Concertos were not lost forever as Ronald Barron of the Boston Symphony Orchestra borrowed them many years ago from the library and made copies. If it was not for Barron's personal library, Concertos No. 12 and 13 may have been permanently lost as the manuscripts were also missing from Russian libraries and these pieces had not been published.

Cramer attempted to have all thirteen concertos, which he received from Russia, published in the United States. He wrote a letter to the director of publications of the International Music Company in New York stating that the entire collection of the concerti was finally in his possession, and that they were authentic unedited publications. Cramer's requests were never answered apparently due to the lack of interest of the publisher, possibly caused by added restrictions of the Berne Convention on international intellectual property rights in 1972. It is interesting to note that Cramer was realizing the importance of the authenticity of the Russian-published compositions and manuscripts, as opposed to those published in the United States.

The few concertos that were published in the United States happen to be the most challenging of the thirteen: Concerto No.5 was often a part of the mandatory requirements for professional trombone solo competitions in Eastern Europe (sometimes alternating with Concerto No.2 and No.9), while Concerto No.10 was considered by Blazhevich to be the most difficult of all according to the "Study Program For Trombone at Moscow Conservatory" written in the mid 1920's while he was teaching at the Moscow Conservatory. Charles Vernon of the Chicago Symphony said that both Concertos No.5 and No.10 are quite challenging, with No.10 being more so. Therefore, Blazhevich's concertos published in the United States are virtually unplayable by the average student, which has led to their low popularity in American colleges and conservatories.

The Concert Piece No.5, on the contrary, has been a very popular work. It is the required contest piece for many All-State Music Camps and taught often in colleges. Blazhevich wrote ten pieces like this, but only one made it to America, as it was the only one published, even in Russia, during Blazhevich's life. It is interesting enough that Belwin Mills published their version of the work the following year and copyrighted it as theirs internationally. Ironically, nine of the thirteen concertos and other solo works unavailable for purchase in the United States, would have been the most appropriate for advanced high school and college performers, creating the highest demand for this sort of literature.

The Robert King Music Sales catalog contains most of Blazhevich's works published outside of Russia that have become available for sale in the United States in 2004. They are duplicates of each other in various editions, and most importantly, differ from the original sources due to editorial changes. Certain titles do not even exist in Blazhevich's original works. The 2005 Robert King Catalog includes considerably fewer compositions, as the intellectual property copyright restoration enacted by the GATT treaty was applied, eliminating many unauthorized publications from print. Certain American publishers were responsible to a greater degree for producing the majority of Blazhevich's works in the United States without appropriately compensating his heirs.

Reginald Fink, the famous author of many low brass studies, founded ACCURA Music, one of the most prolific publishers of brass literature in the United States. Fink arranged a number of Blazhevich's works generally by converting them into bass clef.

Accura's major low brass publication, Advanced Musical Etudes for Trombone and Euphonium, is based on Clef Studies for Trombone; Advanced Rhythm and Technique Etudes is based on 26 Sequences for Trombone; Symphonic Duets in Bass Clef for Trombone or Euphonium is based on 38 Concert Duets for Trombone. The School for Trombone, edited by Lewis Van Haney, was the first American publication of Blazhevich's 1936 School for the Slide Trombone.

BELWIN, Belwin Mills Music Publishers, was the other publisher that produced one of the two first American editions of Blazhevich's music. Concert Piece No. 5 was published by BELWIN in 1939, only a year later after the original 1938 Russian publication, which was an open infringement of Blazhevich's rights, provided that the composer was even still alive. In contrast to other later publications of Blazhevich's music in America, neither BELWIN nor Cundy-Bettoney editions claimed to have ever revised any of the original text. Warner Bros. Publications has, for a long time, been the official publisher and distributor for BELWIN editions, as well as MCA editions.

Edition BIM was the first and the only publisher thus far to publish Concerto No.1. BIM's editor for this work, Benny Sluchin, obtained a copy of the manuscript in 1981 while on tour in Moscow with Ensemble Contemporean (Pierre Boulez, Director), while visiting the Moscow Conservatory trombone class. Presented to him by Russian trombonists, Sluchin put the copy of Concerto No.1 into immediate publication. Both the Blazhevich family and the Russian Authors Society stated that no agreement was ever made with BIM for this publication. Compared to the original work, the BIM edition is missing a pick up eighth note in the second measure of rehearsal 5, amidst other alterations. The handwritten concerto that Sluchin received is presented in Appendix A, as it was the only one available in Russia.

CBC, CUNDY-BETTONEY CO., a Boston based company, ceased to exist a long time ago. It printed Concerto No.2 in 1939, one of the first two publications of Blazhevich's music in the United States. Even though Blazhevich suggests that his concertos may be played on the Euphonium as well, the trombone is his choice instrument for these works.

MCA/WB, Music Corporation of America, bought out Leeds Music Co. in 1964, thus inheriting many of the Russian works in Leeds's catalogue. Hal Leonard and Warner Brothers have been publishing and distributing the MCA imprints. Blazhevich's Clef Studies was one of these works. Compositions by known 20<sup>th</sup> century Russian composers such as Shostokovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian were also among those transferred to MCA. No record exists in the Russian State Archives of Culture and Art stating that Leeds or MCA had any agreements with the composers or Russian organizations representing them.

IMC, International Music Company (New York) has become the most prolific publisher of Blazhevich's music in recent decades, producing eight editions edited or revised by various known performers. Some of these publications appear to be reprints of the Russian editions, with the exception of slide position and breathing markings added by the editors such as in Concerto No. 2, 5, and 10. Although IMC provides American students with affordable music, the legal stature of such publishing in this situation was quite dubious. Fortunately, IMC was one of the first publishers to comply with the recently amended US Copyright Law.

Alphonse Leduc, Paris, currently owns Robert King Publishing House. Leduc, the publisher of the very popular, 70 Studies for Tuba, has honorably agreed to repay royalties to the Blazhevich heirs and finalize licensing agreements for the legal distribution of this and other works by Blazhevich.

  1. James Sparrow, DMA Thesis, University of Cincinnati, Bibliography.
  2. Jacob Raichman, Boston, to Vladislav Blazhevich, Moscow, 10 November 1927. Original in the hand of Jacob Raichman. Blazhevich's Archives, Glinka State Museum of Music Culture, Moscow, Russia.
  3. Leeds Music Co. and their Am-Rus editions claimed on all their publications and correspondence that they were the only authorized publishers of the Russian and Soviet composers in the western hemisphere. See Appendix A, Exhibit 17: Leeds/Am-Rus letterheads.
  4. Concerto No. 2, Boston: Cundy-Bettony Publishers, 1939.
  5. J. Raichman, letters to V. Blazhevich, Boston, 1927, 1932.
  6. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress Online Catalogue www.catalog.loc.gov). Search entry: Vladislav Blazhevich. Washington, D.C., 2003.
  7. Rubtsova, Valentina S., Editorial Chief, Muzika Publishing
  8. House (formerly Muzgiz.) Interview by author, 18 January 2005. Transcript. Russian State Publishing House "Muzika", Moscow, Russia.
  9. Concerto No.10 (Moscow: Muzgiz, 1963), cover page.
  10. Jacob Raichman, Boston, to Vladislav Blazhevich, Moscow, 19 April 1932. Original in the hand of Jacob Raichman. Blazhevich's Archives, Moscow, Russia.
  11. Title page, Concerto No. 9, Moscow: Muzgiz 1926.
  12. Ibid, Concertos Nos. 9,5,2, cover pages of first publications.
  13. Letters from Leeds Music Co. and Am-Rus Editions to Raichman.
  14. Overly, Paul William. "An Annotated Guide to the William F. Cramer Collection of the Solo Trombone Literature in the Warren D. Allen Music Library at Florida State University." D.M. Dissertation, Florida State University, 1990.
  15. While Overly's research documents all of the 13 concertos in Cramer's collection as of 1990, the author of this document did not find many of the concertos in the library's possession in January 2004, even though the collection is not circulating.
  16. William Cramer, Tallahassee, to Director of Publications,
  17. International Music Company, New York, 26 August 1975. Photocopy of the original typed letter by William Cramer. William Cramer archives, Florida State University Music Library, Tallahassee.
  18. Concert Piece No. 5, Cover page, Moscow: Muzgiz: 1938.
  19. Blazhevich, Concert Piece No. 5, New York: Belwin Mills Publishers, 1939.
  20. Government of the Russian Federation, State Archives for Culture and Arts. Fond "Muzgiz," Record 653/15: Documents. Moscow, Russia.
  21. U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 38b, Pub. L. No. 103-465, 108 Stat. 4809; House document 103-316, 103d Congress, 2nd Session, September 27, 1994.
  22. East West Music International, correspondence with Alphonse Leduc, Chicago, 2003 - 2005.
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