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Most of the editions of Norwegian Musical Heritage are critical editions. They are thus based on a thorough study of all relevant sources and made on basis of a combination of philological principles and critical evaluations.

Some editions are based on a less thorough editing process. Such editions are first of all aimed at practical use in performances, when there have not been enough time and/or resources available to endeavour on deeper critical studies of the sources. Such practical editions might later be revised into the form of critical editions.


When preparing a critical edition, the first step is to get a comprehensive overview of the complete source material. Typically, the sources will first of all consist of the manuscripts made by the composer and early printed editions of the work, but also other musical sources of relevance. Further, letters, diaries and other biographical and historic documents can shed important light on the work’s history and give the needed insight supporting the choices that has to be made in the making of the new critical edition.

In preparing a critical edition it is also important to study the sources of other works by the same composer, to be able to understand the composers specific style of notation.

A critical edition in Norwegian Musical Heritage has a defined primary source. All deviations in the new edition from this primary source are registered in the critical report. In this report relevant variants from other sources are also listed. The critical report is supposed to give transparency to all choices made during the editing.

Usually our critical editions aim to get as close as possible to the composer’s latest intention, through a clear and congruent score. But the editions also strive to convey a thorough insight into the characteristics of the complete source material, thereby enabling a better historical understanding of the work.

Critical editions from Norwegian Musical Heritage are usually organized in the following way: First there is a Preface introducing the work, maybe with some facsimiles included. Then there is the score itself and at the end there is the Critical Report including a table of emendations and variants, bar by bar. The editions will be presented in exactly the same way on paper and online, but on our internet site there is also additional material and documentation.

The Preface

The Preface describes the origin and the history of the work. Most of the focus is the compositional process, the publication history, the performance history and the reception history. In addition the work’s position in the complete output of the composer is evaluated. The Preface can also present and explore the most important editorial challenges of the work in question. Sometimes there might also be a discussion of problems of performance practice.

The Preface might be illustrated by facsimile prints of pages from important sources, partly to enrichen the understanding of the work’s history, partly to illustrate eventual important editorial problems. The Preface is usually printed in both Norwegian and English.

The Score

In a critical edition from Norwegian Musical Heritage the scores are supposed to be of the best possible editorial, technical and aesthetical standards. The scores are established through a combination of philological principles and critical evaluation. Secondly misprints have (hopefully) been eliminated through thorough proof reading. Thirdly the score has been given a graphical appearance of the highest standards.

Editions from Norwegian Musical Heritage are optimized for performance. This means that the layout and graphical form is formed for practical use and that the scores do not have many markings, alternatives or signs concerning the editorial process. Such markings and discussions can be found in the Critical Report, after the score.

Critical Report

The Critical Report is placed after the score. Here a detailed source description of manuscripts and printed editions can be found. A thorough evaluation of the sources leads to a conclusion where a principal source is chosen for the new edition. The Critical Report also consists of one or more tables listing all instances where the new edition deviates from the principal source and also listing all important variants.

In the source evaluation the relation between the different sources is discussed, likewise datings and the composer intentions. In some cases the relation between the sources are illustrated by a stemma, a graphical rendering of the relations between the sources. If there are printed editions the communication between the composer and the publisher is looked in to, if possible, and knowledge about the printing source is established as exactly as possible.

The aim of the source evaluation is not only to give a good foundation for the editorial choices, but also to convey insight into the source situation and thereby give a deeper understanding of the work itself.

The Principal Source of the new edition will be among the sources expected to be closest to the new edition. Such a principal source would thus generate less remarks in the table of emendations than the other sources. Often this is the source supposed to be closest to the composers latest articulated intention, thus usually a source placed late in the compositional process. In some cases it will however be feasible to create a new edition not having the composers latest intention as a main goal. Likewise it can in some cases be of interest to make two or more editions of the same work, for example of an early and a late version.

The choices made in the new edition is based on a combination of philological principles and critical evaluation. One important philological principle is analogy. The use of certain notational elements in the score – articulation, dynamics, slurs and ties, technical markings, expressive markings etc. – can in many cases be synchronized to coordinate analogous sections of the score. Still, if there is a strong enough possibility that the composer knowledgably has given quite analogous sections of the score different shaping, such coordination should be avoided, keeping the ambiguities from the composer. Such decisions must be done by critical evaluations. It is important that the use of principles and subjective assessments is well documented in the critical report.

The Critical Report is usually presented only in English.



Practical editions will generally be as suited for performances as the critical ones. Still such editions cannot be expected to fully extract the full potential of knowledge and insight from the source material. Maybe some relevant sources are not evaluated and ambiguities and problematic passages in the source might remain unstudied and unresolved.

Also practical editions are equipped with a preface giving some information about the work’s history. This preface is presented in both Norwegian and English, and it might include some facsimiles of important sources. The scores are supposed to be of the same high standard as in the critical editions, optimized for performances, and as free of misprints as possible.

In practical editions there will normally not be a critical report. Information about the sources is then given in the preface.

Published Apr. 9, 2017 7:49 PM - Last modified Apr. 14, 2017 10:19 PM