A library of classical sheet music at your fingertips

A new app gives musicians access to an extensive cloud-based library of classical sheet music on their mobile devices.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (OCTOBER 13, 2015) (REUTERS) – Octogenarian Hungarian piano virtuoso Tamas Vasary says a new app that downloads sheet music onto his iPad or iPhone could save him hours that he spent recently searching for the score of a piece he hadn’t played in decades.

Vasary, 82, called it “an extremely useful tool” for retrieving a piece he hasn’t played in a long time.

“With this I just put my finger on it and it is there,” he said.

Twelve-year-old Hungarian piano prodigy Misi Boros is more excited that the app, Musica Piano, which is being distributed free by the German music publisher Koenemann with monthly charges for deluxe features, or to print the music — will spare him from carrying around 5 kg of music.

“This is really simple. I just take out my iPhone from my pocket and it has all my scores,” Boros told Reuters at a press launch for the app’s full version in Budapest on Tuesday (October 13).

“I also have an iPad and it is easier to see the scores on that, and so it is super that I have all my scores in my pocket,” he added.

While every pianist or instrumentalist knows that pretty much anything by composers like Beethoven or Mozart — music that is out of copyright — is available somewhere on the Internet for free, the trick is knowing where, and finding the desired level of quality.

The Mozart Foundation in Salzburg, for example, has all of Mozart’s music online for download free of charge.

But publisher Ludvig Koenemann said his is the first app to provide access to some 25,000 pages of piano music from a range of composers, available in high definition, and — for a monthly charge of 4.99 euros ($5.71 USD), allows users to hear professional pianists playing the piece as well.

The score also moves on the screen, in time with the pianist’s playing, and the player can link a video recording of his or her performance to the score.

“The application allows us to offer a huge amount of musical content out of the cloud on a very small machine,” Koenemann said. “So you can see the pupil or whoever playing here and you can see the score running here. We do not want to replace the teacher in the future, we want to give good tools to the teacher so the teacher could record the video of the pupil and then compare it with professional recordings,” he added.

When it comes to scores of orchestra music the app allows the user to select parts of the score for listening and play along to it. “You can listen to individual parts, so now I have the entire orchestra playing but I can take off parts,” Koenemann said.

Erika Becht, who teaches music methodology at Hungary’s Liszt Academy, said the app should help tutors.

“This will be very useful at refreshing the repertoire of teaching at music schools, the teachers will get to know works that they may not have had access before,” she said.