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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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Chapter 1. State of research


17 Chapter 1 State of research 1. Music editing, History and theory 1.1 Music editing as a specific form of scientific editing In his classic book on the scientific bases of music editing,4 James Grier defined the specificity of that subdiscipline versus literary editing� Highlighting the rela- tively young history of music editing, whose earliest origins can be sought in the mid-eighteenth-century editions of the works of Handel, but which developed on a larger scale only with the emergence of the complete editions of leading German composers in the mid-nineteenth century, Grier comments on the hid- den ideological character that accompanied music editing from the very begin- ning: “Since the formation of the Bach-Gesellschaft in 1850 … musicologists have produced an enormous quantity of distinguished editions …� But a strong element in the undertaking was the creation of a canon, a central core of reper- tory, whose texts carried the same philological weight as their rivals in literature and political history�”5 That observation leads Grier to emphasise the historical conditioning of any types of music editions, including those that theoretically embrace objectivism and a transmission of the composer’s intentions free from contaminations: Over the past century and a half, music editions strove to present a neutral edition, one that seemed to preserve objectivity and permitted either a limited scope for editorial intervention, or none at all� Again, a term, this time Urtext, reveals the mode of editorial thinking� An Urtext purports to present the “original” text of the composer, unmedi-...

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