What is Bärenreiter Urtext?
What is an Urtext edition? A book sealed with seven seals? A dusty affair for specialists with no relevance to performers? Such opinions are voiced time and time again. But the idea of an Urtext is both modern and essential for anyone who takes their concert projects seriously. No choral concert is worth its salt unless it is based on a reliable musical text.
All composers, whether a servant to a higher realm like Bach, or a genius like Mozart who composed faster than he could write, or a rebellious hero like Beethoven (photo: page of Beethoven‘s manuscript of his “Missa solemnis“), have a precise idea of what their creations should sound like. But circumstances may have conspired to alter those creations or to detach them from their original idea.
Musicologists invest their every effort to reconstruct the intentions of the composer from the surviving sources. In a painstaking process of comparison, evaluation, decision making and verification, they produce a version that will then appear in print and on the music stands of concert halls, opera houses or one's own living room.
No one who has studied the great works of music history will trust slipshod editions. Only the very best is good enough for the geniuses of the past.
For further information on the fascinating subject of Urtext editions click here.