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#375761 - 08/12/01 11:30 AM Urtext vs. edited scores for non-professionals
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20782
Loc: New York City
While attending the recent International Keyboard Institute at Mannes, I noticed that virtually all the participants in the master classes used what I believe were urtext(Henle) editions. While I can understand that it might be most appropriate for a professional pianist to use a non-edited edition so that he is not swayed by someone else's ideas and knows what the composer's intentions were, I think that for non-professionals a carefully chosen edited version can be very useful. For example, the Schnabel edition of the Beethoven Sonatas seems to have an incredible amount of useful ideas, and, I believe, Scnabel distinguishes between his ideas and Beethoven's. Another example would be Godowsky's music. Of course, the markings in those pieces are, I believe, all by Godowsky himself so that strictly speaking it is not an edited version. But since he includes such detailed fingering, it is some ways like an edited version and it seems almost getting a free lesson from Godowsky. I also have an edition of Mozart sonatas edited by Bartok that has many pedal markings that might be controversial, but the idea of seeing the suggestions of a great composer seems to outweigh any lack of authenticity.

What does everyone else think about the advantages or disadvantages of non- urtext editions?

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#375762 - 08/12/01 01:25 PM Re: Urtext vs. edited scores for non-professionals
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 19062
Loc: Victoria, BC

I often find the fingerings suggested by editors are useful alternatives to what I had already figured out for myself. In some cases they might even be improvements on what I had thought would work for me. I think only the very inexperienced - or naive - musicians really need such things as phrase markings and pedal indications, but they should learn to not be slaves to them. Nevertheless, they are sometimes, again, interesting alternatives to what ones own musical intelligence should dictate.

I remember one of my first teachers had a great deal of respect for the Schnabel edition of Beethoven, and she had me buy it at a time when that purchase represented a considerable investment for the poor student I was then. She liked it not necessarily for the authority of the score but for the many suggestions that Schnabel made, suggestions which helped with the execution and interpretation of many passages.

I happen to like the Henle edition in many instances, not so much for the authority of the score but for the clarity of the print and perhaps also, since it is not edited, for its totally uncluttered look. However, I sometimes find that even such a mundane thing as where page turns occur in a score might prompt me to choose one edition over another.

In the long run, for my purposes and even my performances I don't think it's going to make that much difference to me or to anyone but the most pedantic whether, for example, that Eflat chord, first inversion in one edition at bar x is now considered faulty and should be a second inversion as it is in another edition.

A specific instance, however, where I do draw the line very carefully is in the Schubert Impromptus of Op 90 (D.899). I don't know if (many of) you know that for a long time, even respected editors often printed the third of these Impromptus in G major, instead of G-flat major, as per Schubert's original. Today, of course, that's considered heresy. I believe it was an early editor of Schubert who first published the Impromptu in G major, and many others blindly followed suit.

Another interesting question, Pianoloverus.


[ August 12, 2001: Message edited by: BruceD ]
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#375763 - 08/12/01 03:27 PM Re: Urtext vs. edited scores for non-professionals
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
What I have been doing lately is referring to both an edited edition, and the urtext edition of works I study. For example, I use the Hans van Bulow edition of Beethoven sonatas to start studying a new piece, then as I progress or finish, I also carefully study the urtext edition to see if anything can be changed or was by the editor. This method gives you a bit of guidance (even if you are a professional, suggestions don't hurt)and also allows you to stay as close to what the composer wanted as possible.

#375764 - 08/12/01 05:30 PM Re: Urtext vs. edited scores for non-professionals
yok Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/01
Posts: 497
Loc: New Zealand
Good editing represents more than just "someone else's ideas", it represents a considerable amount of scholarship as well. So I agree with you, that for non-professionals who aren't equipped or don't have the time to undertake this kind of study themselves, the work of an editor can be very useful. I do prefer editions where the editorial markings are distinguished from those in the source though.

#375765 - 08/14/01 09:02 AM Re: Urtext vs. edited scores for non-professionals
sandman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/01
Posts: 605
Loc: toronto
a carefully edited edition can be useful to everyone (even professionals), but for some composers i really prefer an urtext edition...for example Bach, mostly because i find many editors suggest very romantic ways of playing bach ...especially czerny edition which does stuff like doubling the notes in the bass to create a fuller sound...i really disagree with that....but with a composer like beethovan i think an edited edition is useful, in the urtext edition of his sonatas there is so few markings that some suggestions are useful and helpful...claudio arrau has edited a great edition of his sonatas for Peters....but beware of the hans von bulow edition...the comentaries are all very interesting and useful, but he often changed notes or filled in chords if he thought it was an improvement, and many times he does not specify that he has altered the text...as well i often find his fingering awkward...but thats just me in sure...in fact im fairly sure that for many competitions the kewanis festival, and perhaps in the canadian nation competitions, Schirmirs editions...(the von bullow one)are not allowed because they have altered the text too much...and I know of someone who was playing a Bach prelude and fugue from a czerny edition and was told by the examiner to stop because the notes he was playing were czernys and not bach's.

#375766 - 08/14/01 09:20 AM Re: Urtext vs. edited scores for non-professionals
ZeldaHanson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/01
Posts: 276
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, USA
I have this edited edition of Chopin's Nocturnes and Mazurkas. For some odd reason the songs are missing notes, or they have ties that shouldn't be there. It is also missing some trills. I have heard many recordings of the songs and they have all the parts that the book is missing. I don't understand why the editor cut the songs up like that. It doesn't make them any easier or sound any better. I prefer Urtext. It should be up to the interpreter to change the song to fit his musical needs. I think some editors change the song just for the sake of changing it. From my expirience, the outcome is damaging to the piece's essense.

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: ZeldaHanson ]
Glenn Gould in regards to music:

The problem begins when one forgets the artificiality of it all, when one neglects to pay homage to those designations that to our minds-to our reflect senses, perhaps-make of music an analyzable commodity. The trouble begins when we start to become so impressed by the strategies of ours systematized thought that we forget that it does relate to an obverse, that it is hewn from negation, that it is but a very small security against the void of negation which surrounds it.


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