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Rachmaninoff Vespers preferred edition

Dear Colleagues
It has been at least 20 years since I conducted the Rachmaninoff All Night Vigil in Slavonic.  Next fall I will conduct it again with the San Francisco Choral Society and the Golden Gate Men's Chorus.   I would love to know if there is a preferred edition out there.
Bob Geary
Replies (14): Threaded | Chronological
on February 25, 2013 4:36am
Dear Bob,
The Musica Russica edition is excellent (but expensive). It may also be legal to copy it from IMSLP in your country but you'd obviously have to be sure.
I'm not actually aware of any other editions still in print, apart from the Alfred version which is in English.
on March 8, 2013 10:24pm
Thanks Peter.  It turns out Tony Antolini has made a version.  I will take a look at that and look into the Musica Russica version.  I will need a transliterated version.  
on February 25, 2013 8:59am
Do you mean the Rach Op. 37? If you do all 17 pieces, how long does it last? Four hours? There must be a wonderful phonetic Slavonic version out there. I would like to do it in it's entirety with our combined four compline choirs (all-women: SSAT, mixed: ATBarB, all-male: ATTB, TTBB) in Nevada City, CA. The work is mostly in P.D. or on cpdl, but the editions I can find are less than desirable. The 'authorised' version in English is terrible. Did you know the first performance of the opus was by a men's chorus? Actually, that's the edition I would love to see since most of our Compline quire members are men. Our groups are used to doing a small and great Russian Compline and have the chant style down. So, it's a short steppe to Op. 37. We have nibbled around the edges of Op. 37, performing the usual suspects at Compline, but it's time for the All Night Vigil to come alive again and in an all-night format. Please let me know what you come up with and when you will be doing the Op. 37 in S.F.
regards, as always, jefe
on February 25, 2013 9:50am
I agree with Peter.  The Musica Russica edition is fantastic.  Good luck with your performance!
Josh Cheney
on February 25, 2013 1:59pm
The work is in public domain, so the IMSLP edition is legal to photocopy and use.  Musica Russica is the best edition with a transliteration into the Roman alphabet. Clean and legible.  (If anybody knows an edition with an IPA transliteration, I hope they'll let us know!)
on February 25, 2013 2:52pm

It may not be in the public domain in every country in the world. The composer died in 1943, only 70 years ago, so it's not inconceivable that some countries may still recognize copyright in the work. My own country (the UK), for instance, has the following provision:


The following provisions have effect with respect to the duration of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work.


Copyright expires at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies, subject as follows.

That surely implies that the copyright expires here on 31 December 2013 and not before.



on February 26, 2013 4:21am
True, it is only in the public domain in the US and Canada, but Bob said he's performing it in San Fransisco.
on February 25, 2013 2:51pm
Thank you to all who have expressed appreciation for the Musica Russica edition.
It has been "tried and tested" with great success by dozens of fine performing groups over the past two decades. In case singing it in Church Slavonic seems daunting, please bear in mind that the best way to master the Slavonic text is with the help of our Audio Diction Guide for the Vigil, available both as a CD and as a download. It comes with a license to make as many copies as needed for your singers.
Just a small note of historical accuracy. The All-Night Vigil op. 37 was premiered in Moscow on 10 March 1915, by the Moscow Synodal Choir, which, as a choir of men and boys, was definitely a *mixed* choir. There have been a few attempts in Russia to arrange the work for men's choir TTBB, but none have been published. We publish only Movements 3 - Priidite, poklonimsia, 6 - Bogoroditse Devo, and 7- Slava vo vïshnih Bogu (the latter arranged by Gretchaninoff), for men's choir. 
Vlad Morosan
Musica Russica
Applauded by an audience of 2
on February 26, 2013 8:35am
The Greenville (SC) Chorale used the Musica Russica edition for our performance in the fall of 2009.  We purchased the Audio Diction Guide and found it very useful - very clear.   Our final rehearsal was presented in the St.George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Greenville - to allow the singers to perform orthodox music in a true orthodox venue.    Rachmaninoff's music was beautiful, powerful, and meaningful to all - singers and audience alike.     The learning process was demanding, but the Musica Russica's edition and the helpful audio tape made it a very satisfying experience and led to a most successful performance.   Bravo!  Musica Russica.
Bing Vick
Greenville Chorale
Applauded by an audience of 2
on March 2, 2013 9:49am
Dear Bob,
I'd like to point out that there is a choice when it comes to editions of the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil (aka Vespers). I have recently published a bilingual edition of this work with extensive appendices that include chants for use before selected movements, etc. The original Slavonic text is transliterated into an easy-to-read format and the original Cyrllic text is there too for those who can read it. Below these is a singing translation that I doubt you'd want to use but it does give the performers an idea of what they're singing about.
It's published by E.C. Schirmer and available through Morningstar Publishing
-Anthony Antolini
on March 8, 2013 6:27pm
Hi Tony
Thanks sooo much for this suggestion.  Is your edition self-published?  How do I get hold of a copy?  Cécie let's me know from time to time what a wonderful time she has singing with you.  
Cheers from the Bay
on March 9, 2013 8:25am
Hi Bob~
No, it's not self published. Sorry you didn't see the post on ChoralNet about a week ago in which I replied to your initial inquiry.
It's published by E.C. Schirmer and distributed by:

Canticle Distributing
1727 Larkin Williams Road
Fenton, MO 63026-2024
800-647-2117 (USA only)
636-305-0100 (outside USA and inside metro St. Louis)
You can also find out a lot more about it by going to E.C. Schirmer's web site:
Thanks  for writing!
on March 10, 2013 12:48pm
Sorry, I had forgotten you already gave me the contact for your edition.  I'll order it right away, thanks!
on March 13, 2013 12:24pm
The edition available from ECS Publishing Corporation (E. C. Schirmer Music Company, Inc.) by Anthony Antolini of the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil, often referred to as the "Vespers," (catalog number 7808) features an easy-to-read and pronounce transliteration of the original Slavonic language. The text is also presented in the Cyrillic alphabet for those who wish to read it in the original orthography or those who are learning to read that alphabet. A third line of text features a singing translation in English, making it possible to perform the work in translation. The English text also serves to help the singer understand the meaning of the words being sung when the work is performed in Slavonic. The edition also contains the Slavonic and English texts in a side-by-side translation format suitable for program preparation with attributions of the Biblical origins of the words. Appendices include a complete pronunciation guide to Slavonic, chants suitable for a soloist to introduce several of the movements, and the original church chants which Rachmaninoff employed in writing his setting of this important evening service of the Russian Orthodox Church. The preface includes information about the work and its historical relationship to events in Russia in 1915 when it was composed and first performed. Individual movements of the All-Night Vigil are also available from the publisher (catalog numbers 7821–7835).
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Chief Editor
Canticle Distributing, exclusive North American distributor
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