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Editions of Chopin’s Works in the Nineteenth Century

Aspects of Reception History


Wojciech Bońkowski

This book presents the editions of Chopin’s works as cultural texts and gives account of the main events in their reception history. Based on a new typology and an overview of copyright and economics, 140 editions evidence a dominance of a few popular works and genres (nocturnes, mazurkas, waltzes) and two distinctive tendencies in editing: academic (historical-monumental) and popular (salon & entertainment music). Four case studies research real-life typology, reprints, edition filiation, and the use of compositional sources. The author addresses edition aesthetics, from musical work ontology through national aspects of reception and recontextualisation strategies to the role of women in Chopin editing and axiological aspects of editions. The appendix includes forewords to major Chopin editions.


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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 ne- glected 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 en- deavour� Consequently, the fundamental premise of this book is to look compre- hensively at the h i s tor y of e d i t i ons of C hopi n’s work s as c u l tu r a l texts� To reject the hitherto dominant normative perspective—typical of histo- riographic 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 pub- lished 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...

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