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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 5 Editions of Chopin’s works: the social and aesthetic perspective


In this final chapter, I offer a broader look at the nineteenth-century editions of Chopin’s works in the context of more general social and artistic phenomena� The results of quantitative surveys and textual analyses presented in the previous chapters become a starting point for the interpretation of the role of nineteenth- century editions within musical culture� The analysis of sources has shown who edited what and how in Chopin’s music; we shall now ask why? To what ex- tent did editorial choices stem from editors’ biographies? What audiences were targeted by different nineteenth-century editions? How did those editions func- tion in the musical marketplace and in musical life? How did changes introduced into Chopin’s works influence the more general reception of his music, and vice versa? We shall, therefore, seek to elucidate the mechanisms of “social produc- tion of meanings” (Jeffrey Kallberg’s term) or the manifestation through editions of latent social and ideological phenomena (Jim Samson)� By this doing, we have reached the understanding, central to this book, of editions as cultural texts, two- level signs where the signifiant is the material and symbolic layer of musical text, transmitting a compositional intention and an encoded musical work, while the implicit signifié is the social meaning applied to that text and work by listeners in a multidirectional, open-ended process of reception� I begin this chapter with a brief historical and philosophical reflection on the ontology of the musical work and its understanding by nineteenth-century editors, performers, and audiences� If the object...

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