Henle Urtext Sale
The Henle Urtext sale has become a spring tradition at The Juilliard Store. Since our first sale in 2013, our customers from all around the world have been excited to purchase their favorite Henle editions (and cute little notebooks!) at 20 percent off. We are happy to announce that now is the time to stock up on Henle urtext!
What Is an Urtext Edition?
Literally, original text. An urtext edition is a heavily researched and authoritative edition that strives to reproduce the original intentions of the composer as closely as possible.
Urtext editions are the result of research into the original intention of the composer. Sometimes, over the years, editors’ opinions become muddled with composer’s notes in printed music. An urtext publisher looks to sift through these layers and find the composer’s original work.
From G. Henle Verlag:
“[W]ell into the 20th century the great performers of the day were absolutely convinced that musical texts—especially those of works from the 18th century—were incomplete or had suffered from faulty transmission, in particular concerning “how” they were to be performed. This being the case, they altered the text, made additions to it and polished it, either at their own discretion or citing eye witnesses or ear witnesses. In so doing they generally did not refer to the original sources but often arranged the first printed version that came along, which itself probably differed from the original. Thus, the original musical text was substantially distorted, sometimes to the extent that it was no longer recognizable.”
The editor of an urtext edition may reference diverse sources in an attempt to discern what is opinion, and what is composition. If it’s available, the composer’s manuscript is an obvious source. However, the editor may also refer to first printings, and even letters or recorded discussions with the composer.
From G. Henle Verlag:
“In order to produce an urtext edition worthy of the name, the editor must first of all strip away the distorted layers. This task is similar to the one carried out by a restorer of fine paintings who divests a work of art of all the changes made to it over the centuries to reveal the original.”
More on Urtext Editions
Some publishers only print urtext editions (e.g. Henle, Barenreiter), while some publishers print some urtext and some non-urtext editions (e.g. Peters). In general, urtext editions tend to be of a higher quality than non-urtext editions and printed clearly on high quality paper. This is not always the case, but is a good rule of thumb.
Another feature of many urtext editions is the inclusion of parenthesis () to indicate whether a slur, dynamic marking, articulation, etc. is an editorial mark or a composer’s original mark. This allows the editor to include performance practice suggestions while letting you know that the composer did not include this information. This can be useful for informing your own interpretation/performance of a work. Maybe that slur you’ve heard in every recording is actually more of a performance tradition than the composer’s intention.
Making the Investment
While these high quality scores cost more than a standard reprint, Henle Urtext editions
- provide the undistorted, reliable, and authoritative musical text
- offer superb, aesthetically pleasing music engraving
- contain a short preface that introduces the work in German, English, and French as well as explanatory footnotes for particularly interesting passages in the score
- include a critical report in German and English (and often also in French) with a complete list of the sources and an evaluation of the sources and different readings that feature documentation of the corrections that have been made
- are optimized for practical use (page turns, fingerings) for all printed editions
- are of extremely high quality and durability (cover, paper, binding).
Also, make sure to protect your paperback scores with the Henle Plastic Protector for Urtext Editions, now also 20 percent off.