Aspects of Reception History
This book was born out of astonishment. In the vast Chopin bibliography—one that is now impossible to fully embrace—there are surprising gaps, one being the editions of Chopin’s works and their history. That topic is perhaps the most neglected in musicological research to date, even more so than the (equally unloved) history of Chopin piano performances. I address the reasons of this state of affairs in Chapter 1. I have no doubts that filling this gap is a most urgent scholarly endeavour.
Consequently, the fundamental premise of this book is to look comprehensively at the history of editions of Chopin’s works as cultural texts. To reject the hitherto dominant normative perspective—typical of historiographic and editorial approaches—and see editions as events of reception history, a peculiar “mirror carried along the high road” of nineteenth-century musical culture, decipher their encoded meanings and visions of Chopin’s work, ideologies, positions in the deepest nineteenth-century debates surrounding music and the musical work.
The scope of this dissertation has essentially been limited to editions published in the nineteenth century. The starting date is that of Chopin’s death, 1849, marking the end of the composer’s control over the publication of his musical texts and at the same time, opening a stage of reception history characterised by increasingly numerous and complex events. Chopin’s death also opened the era of editions that were more or less critical in nature, i.e. based on editorial changes introduced to the compositional text....
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