Michele Galvagno

Professional Cellist and Music Engraver in Interview


Cellist Michele Galvagno became a music engraver in order to provide other musicians with the best possible editions of sheet music. Find out in our interview how he is committed to the composers Friedrich Dotzauer and Alfredo Piatti, how time-consuming the work process from manuscript to finished edition is and how scores have changed over the course of history.

Michele Galvagno playing Cello

Michele Galvagno |

Website: https://artisticscoreengraving.com/

As a trained classical cellist, Michele Galvagno fell in love with music notation and made it his profession.

Cello and music theory teaching, music engraving and score publishing make up the core of his job. Personal coaching on music notation softwares (Sibelius, Dorico) are a recently added novelty!

Artistic Score Engraving – Sheet Music

  • 2009 - Laurea di primo livello in Studi Musicali (violoncello) – Conservatorio Superiore di Studi Musicali "G. F. Ghedini"​, Cuneo, Italia
  • 2011 - Bachelor of Arts in Music (violoncello) – HEMU - Site de Sion (VS), Svizzera
  • Solfège, niveau supérieur 2, premier prix ex aequo (5.9 / 6) – 2010
  • Solfège. niveau supérieur 3, premier prix absolu (5.8 / 6) – 2011
  • Analyse musicale, niveau 2, premier prix absolu (5.8 / 6) – 2011
  • Projet Bachelor, "La postura del violoncellista"​, premier prix absolu (6 / 6) – 2011 (available as a free download from this link: http://www.academia.edu/4373894/La_postura_del_violoncellista
  • 2012 - Copista e docente certificato Midiware per AVID Sibelius (7) – IITM, Roma
  • 2017 - Laurea di secondo livello in Studi Musicali (violoncello) – Conservatorio Superiore di Studi Musicali "G. F. Ghedini"​, Cuneo, Italia - 110/110 (lode) - Tesi: “Il Gesto Teatrale di Benjamin Britten letto attraverso la Sonata in C, op. 65, per violoncello e pianoforte).


  • cello (solo, chamber music, orchestra - teacher)
  • theory of music (teacher, specialized in Ear Training)
  • music notation (professional music engraver and typesetter) - specialised in contemporary music.

Dear Michele, how did you get into music?

I got my first cello at less than 4 years of age, and we have been travelling together ever since.

Why did you become a music engraver and publisher? Which role does the cello play for your musical career?

During my time as a cello student, I was often unhappy with the clarity of the scores I was practicing from. I then started to copy some of them on Finale 2001, trying to make them better.

This quickly became a passion of mine, and, in 2011, a profession. I have been working as a music engraver for living composers and publishers ever since, while my publishing journey started in 2018.

The cello is still the core of everything I do: from helping cellists with postural issues to trying out my upcoming editions, I always go back to the cello for the ultimate check.

How did you learn to engrave music? Are you self-taught? Do you also know the craft by hand?

I was basically self-taught, browsing the manuals every time I didn't know how to do something. In 2012 I got a Certified Sibelius Copyist diploma in Rome from a dedicated course.

While I can write music by hand quite well with ordinary means—pencil and rubber—, I've never learnt the craft as it used to be before computers took over. That's something I would certainly like to do at some point in time.

Noten für Violoncello

Which duties need more time: practicing, teaching and making music or researching, creating and publishing a score?

It depends on what I am focusing on at the moment. Practicing still has to be allocated a considerable amount of time each day to keep in shape and to be ready in front of students of different levels. When creating a score, the publishing process is the most time-consuming one. That's because of how many small rules there are to follow between finishing the engraving side and getting the score available to the public.

Can you describe the various steps from beginning to end?

Once the composition to work on has been determined—a process by itself!—, we choose the source (if several are available) and start copying the material into the notational software of choice (Dorico or Sibelius according to instrumentation, since each software works best for different contexts). Once all the "ingredients" are there, we work on casting-off and laying-out the music on the page, trying several solutions before proceeding. After that, I usually take care of designing the finest details of music notation (beams, slurs, ties, ...) before the proofreading rounds (usually four) can start.

Once we are happy, the final books are built into Adobe InDesign, including Editorial Notes and Critical Notes for every edition. PDFs are then exported as digital and press-ready quality and either uploaded to digital shops or sent to the printer and from there to the distributors.

Finally, promotions of the newly published edition happens through posts on social-media and a dedicated newsletter.

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Nino Rota's Trio with Michele Galvagno on cello (clarinet: Milos Bjelica, piano: Vanja Bajazit)

What are the most important aspects of your musical editions? What makes them special?

What our users appreciate the most is the clarity of pagination and the beauty of each single notational element. What makes them special, though, is the musicological research that goes with each edition. This severely limits the amount of editions we can create each year, but I believe we could not keep this level with more than 2-3 editions per month.

How do you maintain the quality?

Currently we are a team of two, me and my partner. Quality is maintained through a rigorous proof-reading process, always applied firstly by the team-member that did not engrave the score.

This happens on tablets where the PDFs are marked-up. Corrections are then applied and a new copy gets printed on paper. We then go to our instruments (cello and piano) and play through the scores at least three times (on different days) to check for wrong notes and other imperfections. What is found gets then applied again and a final PDF-proofreading round is made before proceeding to book building. We also treasure user's feedback, which has helped us greatly in the past.

You have two bigger projects: Friedrich Dotzauer and Carlo Alfredo Piatti. Why did you choose these two composers?

The Dotzauer Project stemmed from a suggestion my cello teacher—Marcio Carneiro—gave me many years ago. This brought me to unearth a great part of the immense production of the German cello master. Upon analysing his compositions, then, I quickly realised that what I had before my eyes was not something that could just be left in the shadows. Besides, currently available editions of Dotzauer's etudes do not reflect the composer's will, and have been brutally altered by editors in the last 150 years.

The Piatti Opera Omnia project, instead, originated from a find I made in the library where most manuscripts by Piatti are currently held: the original autograph of the piano accompaniment for his Caprice n° 7! This was one of our first editions (n° 3, to be precise) and it made me aware of how only his Caprices were widely known, while all others had simply been forgotten.

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Did you learn something new musically while editing the works?

Absolutely! Every time you hold a manuscript or a first edition in your hands, you are suddenly transported back in time to a point where our notational conventions may have not yet affirmed themselves.

Something very interesting is how the ordering of instruments in a score evolved into what we use today (winds, brass, percussion, ...) only at the beginning of the XIX century. Before then, scores ordered instruments according to registers so violins and high winds were on top, then mid-winds and brass came after, then low strings, effectively mirroring a choir setting. This also brought the realisation that the practice of publishing full scores is very recent. Up to and including a good portion of the XIX century, full scores remained in manuscript form while the editor's copyists realised the performance material for printing.

What are your goals and your visions as a publisher?

My goal as a publisher is that of restoring the reputation of unjustly forgotten—or openly ignored—composers, expanding the repertoire of my instrument as a bonus.

My vision is to get the highest quality of music notation into the hands of as many people as possible. This has both a business and an educational purpose: getting known for high-quality products also drives customers to return as they know what they should expect. Creating educational materials of this kind, then, strives to train students to expect nothing less than excellent engraving from their scores.

Is there something you wished you knew earlier (in regards to your publishing activities)?

There is still plenty I do not know and I am learning new things daily, especially on the bureaucratic side.

Since no one actually tells you how to create a music publishing activity, mistakes need to become your best friend, and while many of them are really painful (both economically and mentally), there is only one way forward. In the end, the quality of my engravings is only the beginning, and has—sadly—a relatively minor influence on attracting new customers. Maybe this realisation is something I wish I had known earlier.

What editions of sheet music can we expect in the future?

After my last project, the 1st Piano Concerto by Johann Simon Mayr , I will continue with the second phase of the Dotzauer project, dedicated to his chamber music, before returning to pedagogical material. The Piatti Complete Edition will also see several releases in the coming months, but I can't reveal any details yet.

We are looking forward to that! Dear Michele, thank you very much for your time!

Artistic Score Engraving – Sheet Music

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