Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847) Leipzig Edition of the Works of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
edited by the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Editorial Board: Christian Martin Schmidt (chairman), Peter Ward Jones, Friedhelm Krummacher, R. Larry Todd, Ralf Wehner; research associates: Ralf Wehner, Clemens Harasim, Birgit Müller
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The Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy pursues the goal of making accessible to the public in an adequately scholarly form all of Mendelssohnss accessible compositions, letters and writings, along with all other documents of his artistic oeuvre. A considerable number of Mendelssohns works are still waiting to be published; many others have been published in an unsatisfactory manner.
Though the new Mendelssohn Complete Edition follows the ten volumes of the Leipziger Mendelssohn Ausgabe (LMA) published by the Deutscher Verlag für Musik (DVfM) in Leipzig since 1961, it sees itself as a fundamentally new conception which reflects the present-day standard of scholarly editions.
The first volumes of the new Complete Edition were presented in Leipzig on 3 November 1997 at "Mendelssohn Festtage" in Leipzig.
The Leipzig Edition of the Works of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy is intended to afford public access to all the available compositions, letters, writings and other documents relating to the artistic work of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in an appropriately scholarly form. As a historico-critical edition, it aims to be of equal value to researchers and practicing musicians alike.
The musical works take pride of place. Next to completed compositions in all their versions, the Leipzig Edition also presents the sources underlying the creative process (sketches and drafts) as well as unfinished compositions (fragments). In addition, Mendelssohn’s letters are extremely important. It is generally acknowledged that reliably edited correspondence is indispensable for the scholarly study of any composer’s work. In Mendelssohn’s case, however, the correspondence is of particular significance, not only because it reveals the composer to be an outstanding witness of his time, but also because of the exceptional literary merit of many of his letters. Finally, if one wishes to provide a comprehensive picture of Mendelssohn as an artist, his pictorial works of art, principally drawings and watercolors, cannot be overlooked. A thematic-systematic catalogue of his musical works (MWV) was published in a study edition in 2009 and helps provide quick access to the composer’s entire life’s work.
A comprehensive study like this hardly calls for lengthy justification, given both Mendelssohn’s importance as a composer and his neglect by the scholarly and musical world alike, essentially attributable to non-artistic motives. The edition of Mendelssohn’s works published by Julius Rietz between 1874 and 1877 and often erroneously referred to as Alte Gesamtausgabe, was anything but complete, and unlike the Old Bach Edition, for example, was not compiled with any intention of presenting Mendelssohn’s complete works, hence ist modest title, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Werke. Kritisch durchgesehene Ausgabe. As a consequence of Rietz’s selection, a considerable amount of Mendelssohn’s compositions still awaits publication to this day, while others have been published only in an inadequate form. The few volumes of the new edition which have been published since 1960 by Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig, have failed to make any major change to this state of affairs.
As regards the chronological arrangement of the compositions to be edited, the present publication conforms to this Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys, but generally takes account of the latest principles governing the publication of complete scholarly editions. This refers in particular to the tenet that all the editor’s decisions – whether relating to the score itself or to the Kritischer Bericht (Critical Report) – must be clearly stated and made accessible to the critical understanding of the user. In addition, the edition conforms to the view generally accepted today that every stage of the composing process or of the publication attributable to the composer himself (sketches, different versions, his own transcriptions such as piano scores) forms part of the work itself.
This view is particularly pertinent in the light of the specific musico-historical situation in Mendelssohn’s day, which led him to fulfill the aesthetic demands attendant on a definitive, self-contained work of art in highly differing degrees of perfection. This is evidenced not only by the differing versions of numerous works, but also by the fact that the composer himself considered many completed works not worth publishing. This hampers a differentiating hermeneutic approach to the sources, which must precede any editorial decision, and a pragmatic approach on the part of the editor. At the same time, however, it provides an opportunity for the development of exemplary methods for the editing of unfinished or otherwise incomplete compositions.
A particularly problematic situation results from the fact that Mendelssohn only gave opus numbers to the works which he published or prepared for publication. Many of his works have thus come down to us without authorized opus numbers. Nevertheless, the opus numbers from 73 onward have long since come into general use, in part through the aforementioned edition supervised by Julius Rietz. The present edition took this into account until the year 2009 by continuing to use these opus numbers, albeit placing them between square brackets. Since the publication of the Thematic Catalogue (MWV), only the MWV designation introduced there will be used to identify the posthumously published works.
The publication will appear in thirteen series, i.e.
Series I Orchestral Works
Series II Concertos and Concert Pieces
Series III Chamber Music
Series IV Piano and Organ Works
Series V Stage Works
Series VI Sacred Vocal Works
Series VII Secular Vocal Works
Series VIII Sketches and fragments which cannot be assigned to the works published in series I to VII; associated groups of sketches
Series IX Arrangements and Orchestrations
Series X Drawings and Watercolors
Series XI Letters, Writings and Diaries
Series XII Documents relating to Mendelssohn’s life
Series XIII Thematic Catalogue of Works
The works or those versions of the compositions which can be attributed the status of a work will appear in the main volumes, which will also contain the Kritischer Bericht. Secondary versions, piano scores and sketches relating to the works in series I – VII will be presented in supplementary volumes. In cases where only a small number of sketches are available, these may be included in the Kritischer Bericht.
Three forms of editorial presentation are distinguished, corresponding to the respective genesis of the work, as follows.
– The Edition of Works, the principles of which call for a detailed explanation, will apply to the main volumes of series I – VII and IX, and, if indicated, to the supplementary volumes.
– The Edition of Content, which usually will apply to the supplementary volumes to series I – VII and IX (e.g. finished but unprinted versions) and volumes of series VIII (e.g. fair copies of fragments). The edition of content will strictly adhere to the source texts. Only obvious mistakes will be corrected, and these will be referred to in the Kritischer Bericht.
– The Edition of Sources relates primarily to sketches and drafts. Reproductions will be faithful, but lines may in some cases be arranged in a different way; line changes in the original will be indicated by suitable supplementary symbols.
Edition of Works
The editing of works in the main volumes represents the results of an exhaustive philological study and ist interpretation by the editor. Divergences from the principal source will be indicated either by markings in the score (square brackets or broken lines, footnotes), with an explanation in the Kritischer Bericht, or – in particularly serious cases – by both.
In addition, the following principles apply to the edition of works:
– The arrangement of the score and the notation comply with present-day standards.
– The keys for the vocal parts are adjusted in accordance with conventional present-day practice.
– The instruments are designated by their Italian names throughout. By contrast, German terms are used for the vocal parts (where the words are in German or Latin), or English terms (where the words are in English); only in such cases where the text of the vocal parts is rendered bilingually (for example in German and in English), voice designations in Italian are used as a viable compromise.
– The spelling and syllabification of verbal texts are adapted in accordance with present-day rules, but the original phonetic sequence and characteristic word forms are retained.
– Abbreviations (including those for parts which are not completely written out in score manuscripts, such as “c[ol] Ob 1 8va alta”), are in general tacitly written out in full.
An explanation of any divergence from these principles or peculiarities in their use is given in the Kritischer Bericht.
Kritischer Bericht (Critical Report)
The Kritischer Bericht which, space permitting, always follows the score in the main volumes and, if appropriate, also in the supplementary volumes, presents the philological legitimation of the text as printed and indicates the sources on which the editorial decisions are based. It contains the following essential paragraphs:
– List of abbreviations used in the Kritischer Bericht.
– Description of sources.
– A list of the text-critically non-relevant readings of individual sources, particularly indexes of corrections in the case of manuscript sources.
– Evaluation of sources.
– An explanation of the particular editing methods for the respective volume.
– Text-critical remarks which account for individual decisions by the editor.