Rare First Editions of Offenbach & Co.

Michael H. Hardern
Operetta Research Center
19 June, 2015

Getting hold of scores – for operettas – has always been a challenge. Admittedly, the situation has become a lot easier since out-of-copyright piano scores have been scanned by libraries and made available as free downloads; which, for singers in search of songs by Offenbach, Suppé et al, is a blessing. But in many other cases, piano scores are still difficult to find in shops, or hugely expensive. The antiquarian Heiner Rekeszus in Wiebaden has just issued his Catalogue #54 with the June offerings of his company dedicated to piano scores and scores. And among 146 page listing there are some very interesting operetta titles to be found.

Antiquarian Heiner Rekeszus. (Photo: Gabriel Leichtentritt)

Antiquarian Heiner Rekeszus. (Photo: Gabriel Leichtentritt)

If you include some opéra comique titles such as Coedés’s La Girouette – which premiered at the Théâtre des Fántaisies-Pariennes in 1880 and his here represented with an original 1880 edition – then there are 56 titles of interest, starting in price at 35 Euro and alphabetically with Abraham (Die Blume von Hawaii, 1960 edition) and going to Ziehrer’s Der Landstreicher (1970 edition).

Some of the “goodies” are Chabrier’s Une Education Manquée in a rare 1879 edition, Flamm’s Der Tugendwächter, an operetta in three acts and an edition from 1908 which includes figurines from the show. There is a Wilhelm Busch operetta entitled Der Vetter auf Besuch, written with composer Georg Kremplsetzer (1827-1871) and premiered in Munich in 1863. There is Krenek’s delightfully absurd Schwergewicht oder Die Ehre der Nation (1928) in a first edition. There is a first edition of Lecocq’s opéra bouffe La Petit Mariée from 1875; and a lot of Lehár. For example a 1936 edition of Friederike with a handwritten dedication to “Direktor Guntram zur Erinnerung an die Festkonzerte im Sommer 1935 in Abbazia, Lehárferenc”.

You’ll remember that this Lehár operetta was not performed in Nazi-Germany because of the way it presented Goethe, the German national poet.

Talking of Nazis: there is a 1942 edition of Millöcker’s Der Bettelstudent “Im Auftrag der Reichsstelle f. Musikbearbeitungen”. In the intro it says: “Den Musikbühnen des erweiterten Reiches sind große Aufgaben anvertraut; während und trotz des Krieges hat für die Spielplan-Erneuerung Reichsminister Dr. Goebbels dafür Kräfte und Mittel zur Verfügung gestellt. Alle Kreise der Theaterbesucher werden es ihm Dank wissen, daß er damit während der Kriegsjahre ein großzügiges Friedenswerk aufbaut.“ (The lyrics are partly in Czech by someone called Josef Odcházel; they are hand-written.)

Henry C. Bunner. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Henry C. Bunner. (Photo: Wikipedia)

In the Offenbach section there is a rare first-edition of Barbe-Bleue (1866) and Geneviève de Brabant (1867), there’s an early German edition of Das Mädchen von Elizondo (1880), Fortunios Lied (1861), La Princesse de Trebizonde (1869) etc etc. And: Robinsonade, a new version of Robinson Crusoé by G. Winkler 1930.

There is one of only 200 original copies of Shostakovitch’s Moscow Cherynomushki (1959), there’s the Strauss/Reitherer operetta Frühlingsluft from 1910, Suppé Fatiniza (1895); and there are three early American operettas by Henry C. Bunner with music by Oscar Weil (1839-1921): Three Little Kittens of the Land of Pie, The Seven Old Ladies of Lavender Town and Bobby Shaftoe (Harper & Brothers, 1897).

You can ask for the full list at mus-antik-rekeszus@t-online.de or call 0049-(0)611-308 22 70.