What does "Urtext" mean?
'Urtext'. The very word smacks of dusty libraries and crumbling manuscripts that have to be handled with kid gloves. But behind the idea of 'Bärenreiter Urtext' are people passionately devoted, then and now, to living music. People who consider music a necessity of life, not a decorative adjunct.
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, 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.
Finally, musicians need a reliable basis for their art. 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.