PR: What are some of your recent publications that you’re excited about?
SR: The Planets, which was a major thing to work on, for one.
PR: Is this the only new edition of The Planets that you know of?
SR: Quite possibly. The publishers can’t afford to do it. It’s only idiots like us that sit in a room tapping away at a computer!
AM: In the original edition, the parts aren’t bad, but everything is doubled, so you have two flute parts on one system, so you’ve got a lot of page turns — sometimes very awkward page turns — so the existing editions are very clear in that they’re easy to read, but they’re also very cumbersome. So the fact that we’ve brought each part down to one player each, our edition is the only one that’s single-line, I imagine.
PR: What else?
AM: I think Rachmaninoff and Respighi are the most exciting for me, because they are two of my favorite composers, along with Ravel.
PR: So you’re working on the “R” composers right now?
SR: Ha, I suppose so — well, with the exception of Holst!
AM: We’ve done quite a lot of Roussel as well!
SR: We started off with the Beethoven symphonies, for which there isn’t much demand, but it was useful as a technical exercise to refine our process. You never stop learning. You know how it is with Sibelius [the software]; there are always things you can do which you never knew were there before.
Using Sibelius throughout the years
PR: Could you speak to that a little more? I only started with Sibelius 4. Tell us about the early days of Sibelius and how it’s evolved over the years.
SR: Well, Annie got me into music copying. She used SCORE at the time.
AM: Are the blog readers going to know what SCORE is?
PR: Most certainly. I wrote an obituary of Leland Smith, and both Bill Holab and Tom Brodhead submitted extended recollections of their work with Leland and SCORE.
AM: That’s fantastic. So yes, I started out with SCORE — I’ve been doing music engraving for 25 years now. As soon as Sibelius came out for the PC I started with it; of course originally it was only on the Acorn.
SR: Sibelius 7 [the first Sibelius version for Acorn] was a fantastic program; it was absolutely wonderful. It was so stable and fast.
AM: I think the pitfalls with Sibelius as it has been subsequently revised, is that the first version that was on PC [Sibelius 1] had some problems. Sibelius 2 was brilliant; it was very stable…
SR: But slow.
AM: Yes, it was slow. Sibelius 3 had a lot of problems. Sibelius 4, again: brilliant. That’s when Dynamic Parts started; it was very stable. Sibelius 5 was rushed out very quickly, long before it should have been out; it was fraught with difficulties…
SR: It was awful!
AM: Sibelius 6 came out and again, it was very stable and reliable. Most of the people that I work with still are using Sibelius 6; they won’t go onto 7.
SR: I don’t understand that, because I like Sibelius 7.
PR: I like 7 too.
AM: I use them both. My personal preference is Sibelius 6 because I’m three times faster in it.
PR: There are a lot of people that feel the same way.
AM: For sure.
SR: I had Sibelius 1 when I was working at the BBC library at the time, and I heard this rumor that there was Sibelius 2 coming out. So I called up Jonathan Finn. In the early days of [Sibelius on the] Acorn, the manual came out with his phone number in it, saying “if you have any problems, give me a call!”
AM: That’s right, yes!
SR: So I had Jonathan’s phone number, and I called him and asked him about Sibelius 2, and he said, “How did you know about this? It’s supposed to be a secret.” I told him, “well, I heard something about it, and is there any chance I can try it out?” And he allowed me to become a tester for the software.
AM: The Finns used to be all over the place.
PR: Sure, I remember I was a graduate student at Juilliard in 2000, I was just about to graduate, and Ben came and gave a presentation to students. But it was only years later that I began using the software, in 2005.
PR: We could certainly go further down memory lane, but let’s look ahead. What’s in the pipeline for Scores Reformed?
AM: People have been telling us that there are difficulties with the parts for some of Saint-Saëns’s music, particularly the Second Symphony, and possibly the Third, as well.
SR: When we get back home we’ve got to finish off Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. It’s already been proofed and corrected, but Annie needs to run her eyes over it before making the parts. The Ravel piano concerto for the left hand is in a similar state at the moment. We’ve already got orders for those two, so we’ve got to get back and fill those.
AM: I quite fancy Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, — that’s a lot of notes — again, the existing parts are perfectly adequate, but it’s all doubled, which is very difficult, particularly in the woodwind parts.
PR: If potential customers have a particular piece for which they want a new edition, can they contact you?
AM: Yes, please! We’d love any suggestions. But it must be in the public domain in Europe. That’s absolutely vital.
PR: So if a piece is in the public domain in Europe, but not in the US, can you sell it to customers in the US?
SR: Of course.
AM: It’s the country of origin that applies. So we can work on it, and break no laws whatsoever.
SR: We can send it to the States, and it’s up to the orchestra to acquire the performance rights. If they want to play a Rachmaninoff piece, for example, they can use our edition, but they must pay Boosey & Hawkes the hire charge. The orchestra is not breaking any laws having our parts, but they must pay the fee.
PR: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Any final thoughts?
SR: We’ve both been very busy racking our brains recently about what to do next. For instance, I would never have thought of doing the Ravel left hand piano concerto, until someone asked us to do it. Same with the Saint-Saëns Second Symphony — it wouldn’t have crossed my mind. So yes, if anybody wants anything, we’ll consider it — as long as it it’s not needed for tomorrow!
Great interview, Philip, and what a great project that Steven and Anne are doing. I hope they get lots of clients and make tons of money!
Steve Reading played French Horn in the first school orchestra I ever had about half-a-century ago. We met again after 50 years two years ago, and again this year. I’m so pleased that his Scores Reformed has become so successful.
At my current school, I do something very similar to Steve, by taking music from copper plate printings and putting them into Sibelius for my Chamber Orchestra.. Each time we meet he gives me tips on how to improve players’ parts, for which I’m extremely grateful and so are my players.
Steve, Great to read of your work and success.. What especially pleased me was the comments by Bob Hayden-Gilbert, to whom I emailed just a couple of days ago. But that was via a Facebook route, which I re=arely use. If you are in touch soon, please forward my email address (at the end) and ask him to contacts me.
Price’s School is what connects us. I was a pupil there 1955-62 and am busily involved in the WP 300 project, which was due to have a celebration in May 2021, but that has been postponed until 2022,
I am writing an Extension / sequel t the 1971 Frank Gregory History of Price’s School. Within that there is to be a Chapter on Creative Priceans, of which there has been an amazing variety and number – quite a few musicians, including a non-musician (Cambridge Law Graduate) who is the Manager of the Rolling Stones!). That is why I have tried to contact Bob Gilbert.
In both cases, i seek a personal statement to summarise times at School – achievement, teams, CCF teachers, disappointments, pranks etc., with a bit of post school and adult career related notes.
Please pass this quest on to any other priceans you know for there are plenty of others with interesting stories to tell. Dates at School and a photo – then and now, would help.
This will certainly be the final chance to contribute to a closing, published event for the School. I hope that you, and Bob will feel willing to join-in, making the list of Cretaive Priceans the better for personal comments. The quest for success is not just for Muscians and high achievers, but we welcome contacts from anyone with an interesting story to record. It is not just for Oxbridge successes, or even graduates. Plenty of people have done well who have taken other routes.
Consuklt: Sociaety of Old Priceans website, click on WRE300 and read the Newsletters.
With best wishes,
PS The nearest I got to be ng musical was the Drum & Bugle section of the CCF band! Both of my children however have grade 8 at the flute.