Score editions

October 27, 2019, 4:40 PM · Hello,
There are a lot of score editions today .
But sometimes, the editions that you like the most don't have the piece that you want to play(for me it is H.Verlag and Peters)
For exemple , if you'd like to get the Sibelius violin concerto, then(if your favorite editions are Verlag and Peters)you can't find the Sibelius concerto.
So , then, which good edition(good fingerings, well printed,...) do you choose?
Of course, it is true for other pieces and I'm not focusing on the Sibelius concerto.

Replies (10)

October 27, 2019, 7:11 PM · It depends on the individual work. I generally buy whatever edition is the most current scholarly urtext.
October 27, 2019, 8:38 PM · I agree with Lydia. Failing that, if I go through Peters, Henle Verlag, Wiener Urtext and Barenreiter, I go with whatever edition I can find particularly if its an obscure work
October 28, 2019, 1:16 AM · Being a low income musician, I naturally prefer the less-expensive editions, like Schirmer, Kalmus, Lucks. For full-orchestra scores in public domain, Dover. If you want something like an Ur-text version of the solo violin part, the cues in the piano part are frequently unedited. The big library at your local college will frequently have the collected works of the major composers, try the reference or reserve section. Then you can always compare with what is available on-line at Petrucci/imslp.
October 28, 2019, 5:21 AM · Kalmus is going out of business. They are looking for a buyer to take over, but at the moment they will stop printing next month. Too bad!

However, copyright laws control who publishes the newer music. One of the reasons that there is so much old repertoire (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) still forming the vast majority of orchestral and recital programming is that the music is cheap or free and no performance royalties need to be paid.

For newer works which are still under copyright there are usually only one publisher so we're stuck using their edition, good or bad.

And even when more recent works enter the public domain, publishers have to think about whether the market for a new printing will repay the effort necessary.

Sibelius died in 1957, so much of his music is still under copyright and thus controlled by a single publisher.

Edited: October 28, 2019, 6:30 AM · Our local community orchestra is very blessed that a longtime member, violist Edith Carter, left a significant bequest to the orchestra upon her death last year. We can buy the music we need. The orchestra purchased the Beethoven Romance Op. 50 because I offered to perform it as a soloist. But be careful what you buy. The score and parts that we got have essentially no dynamic markings whatsoever. The conductor is quite frustrated and his ability to communicate his wishes to us in English (not his native tongue) is diminishing as he gets on in years (pushing 90). I have to shout things from the front like "Go to the place where I have the low D-flat and mark PPP".

With the advent of the internet and sites like IMSLP, it's no surprise that there is consolidation in the classical music publishing industry. As for me, I only take stuff from IMSLP if I want a quick look (or things for my kids). I very much prefer nicely printed and bound editions to study from.

October 28, 2019, 6:59 AM · I agree with Paul. I had 2 of my friends come over durinh the summer (on 2 different days). One is a flautist, the other is a fellow violinist. IMSLP was a great resource for helpung find rep for vln/flut and vla/flute combinations. Other than that, I also prefer something nicely printed and bound
Edited: October 28, 2019, 9:14 AM · Once you get into the habit of buying the urtexts its very hard to go back. While its interesting to see how another musician edits a piece (Peters etc), I really want to see what the composer intended. You will be astonished how modified the former are, totally changing the original intent (take a look at, for example, Mozart's sonatas).

If you want to go one step better, get the 'autograph' copy - that is the music in the composer's original handwriting. Sometimes you can get a real feel for the phrasing from the emphasis in the handwriting. A great example is Bach's S&Ps (the autograph is copied at the back of the Galamian edition.

Edited: October 28, 2019, 1:17 PM · Another vote for Urtext and autograph copies; the older the music, the more likely an edited version will be corrupted, mis-edited, mis-fingered etc. For example, I found a Fiddle Sessions book that includes a Bach piece with five measures omitted to make it fit on one page! Peters and International editions of Telemann's Canonic Sonatas have some very questionable musical articulation signs that I am sure Telemann never intended. It took me many years to catch on to these flaws; now I stick with Urtext and autograph publications as recommended by Jake, Lydia and Elise. For music that is out of print, I have had great success with inter-library loans at my local public library--no charge (on line, see World Cat). Of course IMSLP is always great for a first look...
October 29, 2019, 5:42 AM · It's also important to remember that "urtext" in the music publishing world doesn't mean what I (and probably many of us) were taught. I had been taught that "urtext" meant "the original music with no editing, exactly as written by the composer." It turns out, especially if you compare two editions of the same piece which both claim to be "urtext," that there are editorial changes. There have to be or the edition wouldn't be copyrightable and publishers these days don't want to publish music they can't copyright and earn performance royalties on.
October 29, 2019, 6:24 AM · I also prefer urtext editions - mainly from Bärenreiter and Henle. Not only because they are without unwanted changes to bowings etc. but also because I find the printing much easier to read. The old Peters editions are so compacted. Off course there are fewer page turns, but it comes at the price of reduced readability.
Where I live (Sweden) it is not possible to copyright a new edition of music in the public domain. So a newly published urtext edition of a Beethoven quartet is not protected here (but I believe it is in e.g. Germany).
Regarding the op. 50 romance - Beethoven put very few dynamics in, so possibly what you got was an Urtext. The Bärenreiter version with piano reduction comes with an urtext violin part and one with added dynamics, bowings and fingerings.
When I do print my own music from IMSLP and other sources I print as booklet on high quality cream colored uncoated paper very similar to what is used by e.g. Henle. And I use SRA3 size paper and enlarge the scanned file.


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