Nordic Musical Heritage Network
During the years around 2010, the Nordic countries established very similar organisations for the editing and distribution of musical scores. Before then, national music editing projects had concentrated on editing the complete works of Carl Nielsen (Denmark), Edvard Grieg (Norway), Franz Berwald (Sweden) and Jean Sibelius (Finland). However, all of these countries have decided to establish their own ‘Musical Heritage’ organisations including and hence promoting a broader range of composers as well as aiming at developing a strong academic competence in critical music editing. In Denmark the Carl Nielsen Edition was completed in 2009 and has been followed by the Danish Centre for Music Publication. The Swedish Berwald Edition was completed in 2014 and they have now established the organisation Levande Musikarv. The Edvard Grieg Edition had already been completed years before the Norwegian initiative (Norsk musikkarv) was formalised in 2010. The Finnish Sibelius Edition is still in progress, but a new national musical heritage project has also been initiated there. In 2013 the four countries established a Nordic Network on the critical editing of music. ‘Critical editing’ – also known as scholarly editing – is in this context understood as the musical parallel to textual criticism.
General principles for the Nordic Musical Heritage Network’s critical editions
Because of their different backgrounds, the four organisations of the Network also have distinct approaches; however, the common objective is academic stringency and quality presented in critical, practical editions including both scores and performance material. They also share the understanding that critical editing is a highly complex and important academic discipline, and that a strong network of specialists in the field is very much needed for their endeavours. The participants in the musical heritage organisations of each country seek to develop the discipline through education and seminars. In order to keep developing, critical music editing also needs an ongoing sophisticated, international discourse on its theory and methodology. The Nordic Musical Heritage Network aims at maintaining and promoting this discourse in the Nordic countries.
The following is to be regarded as the Network’s minimal requirements for any critical edition published by its members.
Common principles for the network’s editions
The editions of the Nordic Musical Heritage Network are as a rule both critical and practical; that is, their layout and typography is optimised for performance use, and their content is based on principles of critical editing and scholarly work in general.
Any edition of a work can never be regarded as the definitive one and will always represent one of several possible versions. However, the critical edition must enable the interpreter or the reader to reconstruct other existing versions; that is, it should explain the work’s genetic and/or genealogic variance. It must also allow the user to verify and to reassess the editor’s decisions. Thus, the aims of the critical edition are 1) to be a reconstruction of the musical text reflecting the base text’s style of notation, but in a clear and, if possible, unambiguous manner; and 2) to offer detailed records of all available sources – musical as well as textual – so it may provide the basis for a better historical understanding of the work.
Critical editing is understood as a critical examination and evaluation both of the sources and of the editor’s own reconstruction of the work. Critical editing cannot be reduced to a mechanistic process. It involves an awareness of the hermeneutical and heuristic implications of editing. This includes such aspects as the relationships between the sources; the varying contexts for which they were intended; the editor’s own decisions; and the awareness of the critical edition’s own historicity.
The edition’s musical text thus cannot be established without its interpretation. The editor’s qualifications must therefore cover a wide range of topics, such as the history of notation and instrumentation, music history, analysis, performance practice, source evaluation and textual criticism. The editor must also possess sound knowledge of more specific details, such as a composer’s notational habits.
At a minimum, a critical edition must contain the following three elements:
1) A historically oriented text describing the work’s genesis, reception and transmission. The goal is to enable the reader to evaluate the work in its historical context, including such aspects as its place within the composer’s oeuvre and the circumstances of its genesis, performances and reception. The text may also explain work-specific editorial problems and considerations regarding the choice of editorial methodology.
2) The edited music (score). Sheet music and scores must be proofread thoroughly to eliminate all printing errors. It is also essential that the graphical appearance of the music meets the aesthetic and technical standards expected of professional, critical/practical editions. The practical aspects include layout (e.g. system breaks and page turns) and typography (readability), and require the musical text to be as free as possible of any editorial markings.
3) The critical report documents the critical, editorial work in a clear, consistent and transparent manner. It includes at least three elements:
a) A description of all relevant sources, including a detailed physical description (contents, paper type, format, binding, hands, dates, etc.) and a description of the source type (such as printed or manuscript; autograph or copy; sketch, draft, or fair copy etc.). An important aspect of the source descriptions is to provide arguments for the sources’ place in the edition’s hierarchy of sources.
Also systematic variant readings (deviations) such as notational peculiarities or systematic omissions in a particular source may be mentioned in the context of the source description.
b) A source evaluation; that is, an explanation of the relations between sources (which might include a stemma), leading to the edition’s hierarchy of sources and an argument for their respective roles in the editorial process. General editorial changes made throughout the edition may be explained here.
c) A detailed account of the editorial emendations and a list of variant readings depending on sources’ relation to the main source. These critical comments must enable the reader to understand and verify editorial decisions in detail.