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Music: What Are Historical, Critical, and Collected Editions?

What are Historical, Critical, and Collected Editions?

Historical, critical, and collected editions are intended to be authoritative versions of a piece.  Original manuscripts and all variations are reviewed and considered to ensure the work is as close as possible to the intentions of the composer.

These editions primarily allow instructors, scholars, performers, etc. to come as close to the original intentions of the composer as possible.  Grouped by time period, composer, genre, or location, their goal is to be free of any extra editorial marks and present only markings indicated by the composers themselves.  This provides users with a valuable tool for research, performance, and much more.

Historical Edition

Historical editions are devoted to a body of work of the past.  Any music publication devoted to past repertory can be considered a historical edition.

Critical Edition

These editions are analyzed by an editorial panel to create a score which is historically accurate to the original.  Variant readings and performance practice are taken into account to create the most complete and precise work possible.  They also indicate each variable in printing in critical commentary.

Collected Edition

Collected editions p resent a complete repertory, either the complete works of a single composer or a unified musical repertory.  These may be organized by a single composer, a particular genre, a specific time period, or a location (such as a single country).

National ‘Monuments’/ Denkmäler

These are arranged series of complete works of composers from a specific country.  As “national monuments” they may be a collection of music meant to represent the history of music of a particular country or location. 

Facsimile Series

These works are reproduced versions of original facsimiles directly from the composer, free of any extra editorial comments.  They can be considered valuable second generation sources, the manuscripts being first generation.

How to find and recognize Collected Editions in MUSCAT Plus

If searching by call # they can very easily be found in the M2 and M3 sections of the library.  All M2’s are editions which categorize music by location, genre, or time period, while M3’s are complete sets of music by composer.

 This is also helpful when searching MUSCAT Plus.  If you find a result in the M2 or M3 section, you know it is a collected edition.  Furthermore, noticing key words in results such as “complete”, “urtext”, “ausgabe”, “critical”, and “collected” will also help in identifying these special editions.