Ralf Wehner (*1964) Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Thematic-Systematic Catalogue of the Musical Works (MWV)
= Series XIII, Vol. 1A of the Leipzig Edition of the Works of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Awarded the German Music Edition Prize 2010
684 pages | 17,5 x 27,5 cm | 1800 g | ISBN: 978-3-7651-0317-9 | Linen
How vast is Mendelssohn's oeuvre? Most of his approx. 750 compositions were still unpublished in the 1960s. The publication of many early works within the framework of the Complete Edition has been gratefully noted by the musical world. Yet a scholarly, scientific overview of Mendelssohn's works was still missing. He was the last great composer of the 19th century without a complete work catalogue.
Ralf Wehner's thematic catalogue closes this gap.
It organizes the body of works into 26 groups and assigns each work its own MWV number. Within the groups, the individual pieces are arranged chronologically. Also included in the MWV are all known collective manuscripts and prints, information on works of dubious authenticity and on Mendelssohn's arrangements, as well as his editions of works by other composers. Wehner's work is based on the examination of material and information from more than 1,500 libraries, c. 15,000 auction catalogues and about 12,000 letters. The succinct account of the history of the work, its publication and reception gives the MWV its profile as a compact "study edition."
An overview on the MWV numbering system you will find on the webiste of the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu 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. The Work Catalogue, which is being published first in a study edition, aims to hasten and facilitate access to the composer’s Oeuvre.
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 its 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 takes this into account by continuing to use these opus numbers, albeit placing them between square brackets.
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
Christian Martin Schmidt
(Translation: Uwe Wiesemann)