What is special about Bärenreiter Urtext editions?

Isn‘t Urtext only for specialists?

By no means ! Bärenreiter Urtext editions are aimed at students of all ages, scholars, amateurs and professionals alike: Great attention is paid towards the presentation of the musical text in a clear layout enabling an optimum reading quality as well as practical page-turns and fold-out pages where necessary. In addition an integral part of a Bärenreiter Urtext edition is a detailed foreword, often with notes on performance practice.

Quality is to be valued! Who wants his favourite pieces second-hand ? With Bärenreiter Urtext editions you are on the safe side.

Bärenreiter uses the term “Urtext” for scholarly-critical editions whose musical text has been established by outstanding experts based on all available and authorized sources with the aim of coming as close as possible to the form intended by the composer.

Editorial changes, which may be necessary in the case of doubtful or unclear readings, are confined to the minimum and documented in the critical commentary.

Integral parts of Bärenreiter Urtext editions are:

  • Information on the genesis and history of the work

  • A description of the sources

  • Valuable notes on performance practice

  • A critical commentary explaining all source discrepancies and editorial decisions.

But it’s not all about musicology. Bärenreiter also satisfies your practical needs as a performer.
Bärenreiter Urtext editions offer:

  • Page turns, fold-out pages, and cues where you need them

  • For solo string works additional parts with fingering and bowing

  • In the case of solo concertos and vocal scores straight-forward piano reductions

  • A well-presented layout and a user-friendly format

  • Excellent print quality

  • Superior paper and binding

  • Solid, “Made in Germany” quality

How is an Urtext edition created?

Do the autograph, the first printed edition, the corrected personal copy of the composer or the revised second printing reflect the final wish of the composer? Are we dealing with different versions or pre-stages of the final form? What significance should be attached to comments made by the composer or his contemporaries in correspondence? How are we to evaluate recordings made by the composer?

Editors find themselves confronted by delicate questions of this sort in the meticulous, almost detective-like work of uncovering the “Urtext” of a work. They search for sources throughout the world, decipher almost unreadable handwriting and check for errors, contradictions and deliberate variations. The result is a reliably edited Urtext edition at the highest level.

Here are three startling examples from different Urtext editions:

Bach, Mass in B minor

Fauré, Requiem

Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition