Arrangement of ZWV 19 (Quoniam) - Copyright issue

  • Dear all,

    I will hopefully soon be releasing "my" magnum opus, a piano transcription of the eclectic Quoniam from Missa Dei Patris (ZWV 19). As this is a simply fantastic work, dazzles on the keyboard and thereby sheds a completely new light on Zelenka's invention, I do hope it will be performed, even recorded (but not by me - it is too hard for me to play properly!). Before I release it I have some niggles about copyright. ZWV 19 was not published in the 18th Century and it seems that we generally assume it (along with its equally remarkable chums, ZWV 20 and ZWV 21) were not performed (my gut feeling tells me otherwise, but obviously I cannot prove anything!). If I understand copyright law correctly, this means that ZWV 19 is not automatically in the public domain. So, even though I only used the autograph manuscript (SLUB digital library) as source for my arrangement, I may be violating the copyright of the first person to publish ZWV 19. As far as I can tell, the first publication of ZWV 19 was in 1985 by Breitkopf & Härtel as an urtext edition as part of the series "Das Erbe deutscher Musik". That is 31 years ago.

    Based on my very poor grasp of copyright law I believe that ZWV 19 is now in the public domain in the EU and I can safely release my arrangement without violating copyright of anyone. That is because, in the EU at least, Urtext editions (editions with very minor changes to the original manuscript) are protected for 30 years rather than the 70 years after the editor's death for non-urtext editions.

    Are any of you more familiar with this type of issue and can confirm my interpretation is correct?


  • Notenschreiber - thanks for confirming my impression re copyright
    Xanaseb - Some of your suggestions (e.g. the Trinitatis vitam fugue) are still in the pipeline. The ZWV19 transcription took a lot of my time and energy - it is on a different level in terms of structure and complexity compared to the ZWV 83 fugue and ZWV 14 waltzy thing I did already. However, I think the effort is paying off. So here, exclusively, as a "teaser trailer" (and to gently ease any Zelenka purists out there into my interpretation ;)), an mp3 of the opening ritornello:…19_Quoniam_intro.mp3?dl=0

    Please excuse the mistakes, I am years past my prime on the piano! but anyway, enjoy! ;)

  • Congratulations on this, I look forward to seeing it :)

    Im not aware of any copyright issue. The work doesn't have to have a performing date to be in the public domain. Old art works in manuscript should be free of copyright. In addition, since you used the original manuscript, the B & H edition you mention is irrelevant. B & H has no claim to the manuscript simply because they published an urtext edition.

    You shouldn't have any problems. I don't know much about copyright outside of the EU, but since your issue is about the original manuscript I doubt you'd be in breach of any international copyright.

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