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As far as I understand, Johann Strauss and his family attempted to burn many of his scores. For this reason, most of them are not to be found on IMSLP. Is this true? One reason I am confused is because I purchased the "complete Strauss" from Naxos. As you can see in the link, it contains 52 discs and is all orchestral music. But I don't understand how they can have recorded these orchestrations if they didn't have sheet music of some sort.

Any thoughts about this?

My Questions:

  1. Are there orchestral scores or not?
  2. If not, how did Naxos create this 52 cd set of recordings?

Let's be honest, 52 is a nontrivial amount, so it really doesn't match the fact I only found 8 Strauss orchestral scores on IMSLP.

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Someone with a deeper history/musicology background may be able to answer more definitively, but I have a few thoughts:

IMSLP hosts scores that are in the public domain. A score is NOT public domain simply because the composer has been dead for x decades! Instead, this has to do with the copyright date of the score edition. That is, if I decide to typeset and publish a new edition of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, I am free to do so because the music itself is in the public domain; however my new edition is still under copyright and can only be copied if I grant you rights to do so!

This is all relevant because, in the event that music historians and musicologists have reconstructed Strauss's scores and published them in just the last few decades, those scores will not be on IMSLP even though Johann Strauss II is long gone.

As for how these scores could be reconstructed, they likely originate from a variety of sources; from individual instrumental parts, to "bootleg" copies of the sheet music, and even may involve transcribing from audio recordings! Strauss didn't die until 1899, and the wax cylinder phonograph was in use by 1890. (Whether or not anyone was recording waltzes in Europe by that time is another story...)

  • 1
    Just to add to this, I believe the technical term is a derivative work. And, while any score based on Strauss is a derivative, because the original work is in the public domain all derivatives are then copyrightable by their creators. So, as you say, recreated scores would be copyrighted and not publishable on IMSLP. – Stan Shunpike Feb 28 '15 at 20:07
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    "IMSLP hosts scores that are in the public domain." True, but not all scores that are in the public domain :) History and musicology have little to do with this. – Some Dude On The Interwebs Mar 1 '15 at 22:44
  • @SomeDudeOnTheInterwebs I would have thought that was obvious. – NReilingh Mar 1 '15 at 22:45
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    @NReilingh: it doesn't seem obvious to me, since here we are using the availability or lack thereof of a work on IMSLP to make a guess on its copyright status and preservation status. What I mean is that IMSLP is completely irrelevant to the OP's question. – Some Dude On The Interwebs Mar 1 '15 at 22:48
  • @SomeDudeOnTheInterwebs I think I was misunderstood -- I am saying the question itself has more to do with history and musicology, about which I am not qualified to answer. I only made the point about IMSLP because OP mentioned that in his thought process. – NReilingh Mar 1 '15 at 22:49
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Probably a question for Math Stackexchange -- all dogs have fur; not everything that has fur is a dog.

Siimilarly, all works on IMSLP must be in the public domain, but not all works in the public domain are on IMSLP.

And to be honest, they probably couldn't all be there since there is a near-infinite number of those.

So Strauss' works are in the public domain and older editions of Strauss' works are in the public domain. Copies of them may or may not have survived.

Their non being featured on IMSLP tells us precisely nothing.

EDIT: A simple Google search tells us that there are commercially available scores from Schott: http://www.schott-music.com/composers_authors/show,21668.html

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A few different orchestrators, Michael Rot among them undertook the gigantic task of recreating the scores of the Strauss dynasty after WW II. These appear under Strauss Edition Wien, available at larger university libraries.

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Look here for scores

There aren't many scores because Johann Strauss, Jr. had a brother who burned a huge amount of the family's music. The orchestra parts were out of the home at the time but not the scores.

Conductors will perform the music using a "piano reduction". less than ideal, but workable.

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