Copyright bye-byes

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Yesterday saw the first day when, amongst others, the music of Elgar, Delius and Holst passed into the public domain. (Let those arrangers loose, baby!)

    However, I believe there are a number of works by all three which are still protected for a number of reasons (posthumous copyright, made popular by a particular arrangement or scoring etc.). I shall endeavour to try and get as much accurate info as I can from my old 'batmen' at PRS to supply tMP with those works which still need permission to arrange.

    A word of caution, however; though I believe it is under some dispute, I think I'm right in saying that the original brass band version of The Severn Suite, is still treated by PRS as a copyright work due to Henry Geehl's 'scoring'. The problem lies in the fact that Geehl's actual contribution has been in some doubt for a while now. Geehl allegedly claimed he scored The Severn Suite from something like a melody line and some figured bass, but a few years back, a concert pitch brass band score in Elgar's own writing was unearthed, reputedly showing little signs of difference between that an the eventual published version.

    I have no influence on what the outcome may or may not be, just going by information that was passed to me via a number of written articles. As I said, at this moment in time, The Severn Suite should still be regarded as a copyright work (whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter in hand may be.)

    Kind regards
  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I'm amazed! Being at the nether regions of the Earth hasn' taken your finger off the pulse one iota has it Dave? :)

    Hope you had a grand Christmas and Hogmanay.
  3. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Oh, I think it has! I can't remember some of the publishers of those works still in copyright! :)

    I had a grand Christmas and Hogmanay, thank you (went 'first footing' on Hogmanay, armed with trumpet, and my girlfriend on French Horn, visiting houses and playing Auld Lang Syne 'till 3am!)

    Hope you had a great festive season too! :)
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    N.B. Some might be wondering 'What's the point in giving info about arranging, or otherwise, of The Severn Suite, already a brass band piece, on a brass band forum?' Well, it didn't stop Geoffrey Brand and Bram Gay making their own versions! :)
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Hey Dave, have you got a copy of Delius Cookbook I could borrow? ;)
  6. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I'm not aware of a Bram Gay version, but I thought Geoffrey Brand's edition was mainly to restore "the original key" without changing the scoring. I doubt he needed special permission as he was then the owner of R. Smith & Co. Ltd, the copyright holder of "The Severn Suite".
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Another interesting fact about The Severn Suite was that it was arranged for organ by Sir Ivor Atkins in 1933 and called Organ Sonata No.2, Op.87a. (the proofs were sent to Elgar in January that year). Apparently Elgar refused to arrange it for organ and told Atkins to do it himself. Oddly enough, the Fugue was written in 1923 and performed by Atkin in 1925, although the brass band work was premiered in 1930. The organ sonata was arranged and performed by The English Brass Ensemble in 1991. No reference to who did this arrangement is printed on the sleevenotes but the likely candidate is Paul Archibald.
  8. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    And not forgetting that later, Elgar himself scored The Severn Suite for orchestra and embellished the movement titles as:

    I. Introduction (Worcester Castle), II. Toccata (Tournament), III. Fugue (Cathedral), IV. Minuet (Commandery)
  9. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    The Bram Gay version was used as the test piece at the British Open in 1996, when the contest was held for the only time at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

    I don't remember the details, but Bram Gay wrote in a number of articles (for the British Bandsman and the Brass Band World) that he thought his version was closer to Elgar's original ideas and concept than the Geehl version. It was certainly in a different (and higher) key than the Geehl version.
  10. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Paul Archibald was indeed the arranger of that one (and the incredible multi-tracked Widor Symphony No. 5 on the same disc!)

    The organ version, is of course, still in copyright by dint of Atkins' arrangement.

    Brian, I believe Bram Gay re-scored the Severn Suite for the British Open in 1996 (the year Marple won it)
  11. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Yes, I was there. I don't know why they didn't just use the Geoffrey Brand version, if the Geehl version was no longer deemed to be suitable.
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I think it was because in 1995, the brass band score that was unearthed in Elgar's own handwriting was the basis of Gay's transcription. I alluded to the fact that Elgar's scoring was much the same as Geehl's. That was the basis of articles written by Philip Maund some years back, but here:

    it merely says that the collaboration between Geehl and Elgar was unsatisfactory, implying (perhaps) that Geehl did indeed make his own version, (and perhaps therefore, his claims of scoring weren't 'exaggerated' as I referred to earlier in this thread) but Elgar in the end, deciding he could go one better! (Though it makes me wonder why, if Elgar was capable in the end, of scoring for brass band, he was asked to team up with Geehl to do it for him in the first place! Perhaps the passage of time made Elgar feel more confident about his own band scoring abilities?)

    The other interesting point is that Elgar's score was (as I recall) in the key of Bb concert, with all the parts in that score written out at concert pitch. Bram Gay, I believe, transposed this up a tone for the Open version (i.e. the same key as Geoffrey Brand's version and Elgar's own orchestral version). Having not heard Bram Gay's version I can't say whether (key change aside) the scoring was similar to Geehl's :)

    Seems that the Severn Suite has had a rather confused history!
  13. ukdrummerboy

    ukdrummerboy Member

    I was going to post something about this today, but you beat me to it Dave ;-). Surely some pieces are still protected arn't they? Such as Nimrod (The Enigma Variations), Pomp & Circumstance March No.1 & 4? and Jupiter for Holst? I imagined that the copyright holders would have renewed them because of their popularity?
  14. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    In his book "Edward Elgar, a creative life" (OUP, 1984), Jerrold Northrop Moore quotes Henry Geehl:

    "During the time I [Geehl] was arranging Elgar's Severn Suite I was in continuous consultation with the composer, who provided me with a very sketchy piano part with figured bass and a kind of skeleton orchestral score, mostly in two or three parts, with an indication of the sort of counterpoint he desired me to add; the rest of the score he left to my discretion.

    Elgar was not an easy man to work with. He had many preconceived ideas on brass treatment--usually unworkable--which he tried very hard to get me to adopt, and it took a great deal of argument on my part to convince him that his ideas were just not possible. I remember particularly a 'bad' afternoon when I endeavoured to persuade him to omit the mutes in the Minuet, well knowing that the sound would be entirely different from what he imagined. But all to no purpose! So the somewaht banal sound of the muted trombones will be handed down to posterity! I did, however, get my own ideas adopted in several instances, but these were always conceded rather grudgingly."

    Moore goes on to say "Geehl himself was not an easy personality. He had been chosen for the instrumentation because he was quick at his work. But the score he produced was hastily done and in many respects careless."
  15. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    It's not possible to renew copyrights in the UK, so far as I know. If it were, then nothing would go out of copyright.:D

    It used to be possible in the US, but the initial copyright was then just 26 years (I think!). They now have the same 70 years as we do (I think!)
  16. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    As far as I know (and I admit I know little) the publisher has a copyright on the typesetting that can be renewed. They don't however have copyright on any other aspect of a piece after the 70 years have run out.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.
  17. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Not sure about this. To my knowledge the graphic copyright is just 25 years. (Hence Dover Publications!)
  18. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    There was a loud whoosh! at that point, as a large and unidentifiable lack of knowledge whizzed past me :)

    Could you please explain, Philip?:oops:
  19. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Dover (from the US) have made a very good (and legally legal but morally questionable) living by reprinting Breitkopf and other publications of largely 19th century orchestral works as their own publication. They don't try to hide the fact, but they will (for example) produce a complete volume of Beethoven Symphonies very cheaply using Breitkopf's origination (and presumably without asking!)

    Not illegal as the graphics are well out of copyright (as is the music, of course)
  20. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Is nothing sacred? :shock:

    Would we get away with something like that over here, do you think, or could it only happen in America? Not that I would want to, mind, I do have a few scruples. ;)