Here is the second part of our two-part interview with Dr. Matthew Edwards. Dr. Edwards is a prolific composer, editor, piano professor, concert pianist and musicologist. Click here to read Part 1.
We are big fans of the Schirmer Performance Editions. Are there any joys or discoveries in editing them?
I really enjoy the whole process of making these books. It’s great to be able to study one collection of works so closely; in a way, it allows me to get a close-up look into the composer’s life, and what brought about the particular pieces I’m working on. In a certain sense, it’s the kind of research that perhaps we all should do, for every piece we study!
Possibly one of the more rewarding discoveries has come from my work on Classical-era literature; in these books, it is necessary to discuss style and ornamentation. My study in this area has really helped me to understand and hopefully clarify for others some of the basic details of Classical ornaments.
The Czerny books have also led me to a fascination with the development of piano technique from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. As the piano went through significant changes during this time (not only mechanics, but capabilities as well), teachers and composers were scrambling to understand it, and how best to approach it technically. As a direct result of my work on those editions, I’ve begun to do presentations on this topic, both here and overseas.
Are there any challenges in editing the Schirmer Performance Editions?
The most difficult part for me is possibly reviewing the final proof. This is where I have to look through every word, line, note, etc., for any kind of mistake or problem. Not only is it time-consuming, but I sometimes will have doubts about what I’ve written, and wonder if something else would be better. However, this final proof is not the time for new material, so I have to show a lot of restraint, or else make the smallest change possible.
The recordings are time-consuming, but overall not too bad. I have a very good producer and engineer, and we’ve done enough projects together that he’s begun to understand how I work. Because of my busy schedule, I tend to start my recording sessions around 7 pm, and go until 5 or 6 in the morning. It’s likely that about 70% of what you hear on my CDs was recorded after midnight! It’s tiring, but there is a sense of focus that seems to come with the late-night sessions.
Do you have projects/plans for future publications that you can share with us?
Well, new projects aren’t completely up to me, but I do submit certain ideas on occasion. The original discussion about the Czerny books included doing as many as six; I’ve finished two (Op. 599, Practical Method for Beginners, and Op. 849, Thirty Exercises in Techniques), and am working on a third (Op. 299, The School of Velocity, Books 1 and 2).
I would love to do more books, perhaps Scriabin or Bach, or some lesser-known works/composers. Again, I love doing these books, so there probably isn’t much I would turn down, if Schirmer asked.
Do you have any spare time?! If so, what do you enjoy doing?
I do have a little free time! My three kids keep my wife and I busy with ballet and soccer — I even coached my oldest son’s soccer team one season. Recently, I’ve started running some, and have now done two complete 5K races. I’m also a big fan of European and British medieval history, and usually have two or three books on those topics going at a time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I know it is often said as a cliché, but the best part of my career really is that I don’t feel like I’m working because I love what I do. This is something I try to pass on to all who are considering a career in music. Some doubt themselves when they find another who is “better” than them; others doubt that they can make a living as a musician. My career has been made not by focusing on a tiny niche within the field of music, but by being willing to participate in a wide variety of things. I’ve known so many people who aimed for some tiny niche, and upon not succeeding to their expectations, dropped out of music, and took up a “real job.” For me, I resolved to be in music, whatever form that would take. And indeed, that has made all the difference.
Thank you so much, Dr. Edwards, for sharing so much in this interview. You have truly inspired us.
For all music composed or edited by Matthew Edwards, click here.
For Matthew Edwards’ digitally available pieces, click here.
Click here for all Schirmer Performance Editions.