Alina Mądry W. Bońkowski, 19th-Century Editions of the Works of Chopin as an Aspect of the History of Reception

In view of the diversity of the editions examined, the author has classified them and distinguished four basic criteria as well as their types, also taking into consideration previously published reference books:

The pragmatic criterion – the purpose of the edition:

a) source editions (urtexts) – aiming to establish the correct reading of the text conforming to the composer's intention as confirmed by the sources. Here Bońkowski classifies and discusses among others the editions by Karol Mikuli of 1879 and by Jan Kleczyński of 1882. The author points to a very important problem with these editions: as they lack clearly defined rules of musical notation editing, it is hard to show the sources of the variants or other text details. The editorial work was of a prominently critical character with some source elements, which makes us believe that urtexts as such did not generally exist in the 19th century;

b) critical editions – the main purpose of such editions, just as in the case of urtexts, is to recreate the definitive text of the work, but this time based on aesthetic and sometimes also pragmatic grounds, with questions strictly related to sources being of minor importance. Such editions do not respect the basic rules of scientific music editing: the sources are selected according to subjective criteria related to style or aesthetics, and variants from many different sources are frequently compiled (with an emphasis on the performance value). The text is thus established following the editor's own personal editing criteria, where it should lead to a coherent composition and have a source basis. The author classifies for example Erste kritische durchgesehene Gesamtausgabe by Breitkopf & Härtel of 1879 as an edition of this kind;

c) practical (didactic) editions – editions primarily aiming to form a basis for pianists to learn and perform the work. Here the author indicated the so-called instructive Ausgaben, created at that time by prominent teachers and pianists. Usually later versions – rather than the original ones – provided their basis, therefore they were not necessarily source-confirmed and could include possible interventions of the editor at his own discretion. The coherence of the text meant coherence of the proposals for performance (fingerings added, supplementary performance instructions, simplified text versions etc. – as for example in the Études edition by Theodor Kullak of 1880);

d) interpretative editions (performance-related)

– a special kind of edition with an almost poetic descriptive interpretation, strongly emphasising the expressive aspect. The typical feature of such editions is that, contrarily to the practical ones, they are created following a performance in order to preserve its specificity. The major example quoted by the author is the edition of Chopin's Ballads by the famous pianist Alfred Cortot (Paris, 1929);

e) analytical editions – parallel to performance editions, but with a different purpose: the musical notation and auxiliary text include results of an analysis of the musical composition based on which the textual variant has been established. According to Bońkowski, the most extraordinary analytical edition is the so-called Phrasirungsausgabe (a collection of 14 of Chopin's works) edited by Hugo Riemann (1886-1891). The scale of the editor's tampering is unprecedented (e.g. the displacement of the bar line by a full rhythmic value or the introduction of additional bar lines, meaningful differentiation of the ties, phrasing contrary to the original articulation, etc.). Any faithfulness towards the composer's sources is completely out of the question, the notation being entirely subjected to the musical analysis.

The source criterion – the source basis of the edition:

a) editions based on original publications, forming a unique type of Chopin edition. These are based on first printings, and copy parts of the text with corrections only if these are related to printing or copyist errors.

Such texts were authenticated by the composer himself, with no variants introduced. Another type within this category is based on several first printings. Both were non-existent in the 19th century, but gained special importance in the 20th. The author provides as examples the newest urtexts by Henle-Verlag and the National Edition of Chopin's Works, although they do not necessarily comply with all the criteria required;

b) editions based on the documented intentions of the composer– resulting from the first printings and the composer's intentions. These are above all manuscripts, final drafts for publication, composer's copies, sketches or copies of Chopin's students with written remarks by the composer. It might also be a compilation of the above sources. The author points to the Édouard Ganche edition (Oxford University Press, 1932) as the most accurate example in this category;

c) editions based on sources not controlled by the composer – this category is the broadest and easiest one to define, including all interpretative, didactic or practical editions with supplements added by the editors or others, not necessarily comprising the composer's intentions.

Biographical criterion (the person of the editor) – this category includes editions prepared by virtuoso pianists or piano pedagogues as well as conductors, musicologists or experts in music theory. In fact, the professional experience of the editors tended to influence their editing decisions. This criterion may sometimes turn out to be decisive where the pragmatic one seems doubtful.

Philological criterion (scope and extent of the editor's own interventions) – regarding the interventions in particular as indicators of the original musical work. The scope of such modifications has been carefully discussed by the author, therefore the details of this analysis will not be described here.

The author makes the reservation that the above criteria do not form "pure types." However, presenting their detailed summary seems useful, as it greatly helps us to understand the subsequent chapters of the book (III-V), its core part.