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Notes 60.2 (2003) 524-529

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Béla Bartók. Musik für Saiteninstrumente, Schlagzeug und Celesta: Faksimile des Partiturautographs und der Skizzen. Herausgegeben und kommentiert von Felix Meyer. Eine Publikation der Paul Sacher Stiftung. Mainz: Schott, c2000. [Introd. in Ger., Eng. (genesis and premiere; character and structure of the work; the autograph score), p. 9-48; documents, p. 49-72; list of sources, p. 73; facsim. reprod. (color), p. 75-148; suppl. to facsim. (in pocket), 31 p. ISBN 3-7957-0399-9; PSB 1010; BSS 50318. €154.]

Facsimile editions of Western art music have become increasingly commonplace in recent years. Few could have predicted fifty years ago the rise of a viable market for inexpensive photoreproductions of eighteenth-century editions of violin sonatas, seventeenth-century Neapolitan opera manuscripts, or early lute tablature books, all of which can now be found in research libraries worldwide. Ongoing improvements in photographic reproduction processes have made possible the production of facsimiles at modest cost, aimed narrowly at the library market and the handful of music scholars and performers interested in the byways of music history. If one's budget permits, the whole of music history now can be viewed photographically. In college and university libraries across the United States, from California to the Carolinas, curious musicians can marvel at the splendid illustrations of the Squarcialupi Codex or sit in awe before the chiseled multicolor handwriting Igor Stravinsky used when composing TheRite of Spring. Such experiences, in generations past, would have been limited to the handful of scholars who traveled regularly to European libraries.

The same advances in technology that have democratized the facsimile market also encourage publishers to create sumptuous, full-color volumes at the high end of the cost spectrum. Examples of the latter include Bärenreiter's 1990 facsimile edition of Mozart's Requiem (Requiem, KV 626: Vollständige Faksimile-Ausgabe im Originalformat der Originalhandschrift in zwei Teilen nach Mus. Hs. 17.561 der Musiksammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, ed. Günter Brosche, Documenta Musicologica, ser. 2, vol. 27), priced around $475, and the still more costly facsimile of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (Fünfte Symphonie, C Moll, opus 67: Faksimile nach dem Autograph in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, ed. Rainer Cadenbach, Meisterwerke der Musik in Faksimile, 4 [Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2002]). Both of these volumes adhere to the standards of the luxury facsimile market: packaged in attractive slipcases, they include extensive musicological commentary and razor-sharp color images of the musical manuscript, all presented on high-quality archival paper, tightly bound, and cut to the dimensions of the original manuscripts. They painstakingly reproduce every visual aspect of the original. Volumes like these are to the main facsimile market what Mercedes-Benz automobiles are to Ford Tauruses: both will get you where you want to go, but a Mercedes takes you there with style. The Mozart Requiem facsimile, to mention one example of how luxurious facsimiles can be these days, even comes packaged in a slipcase whose dark blue marbling matches the mid-nineteenth-century binding paper found on the two volumes of the manuscript reproduced inside. It's an artistic touch.

With the possible exception of Igor Stravinsky, whose manuscripts have immediate visual appeal as masterworks of musical [End Page 524] orthography, and thus a built-in reason for publishing them separately, the facsimile market has yet to catch up with most twentieth-century composers. Only sporadic works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and other leading figures have appeared in facsimile editions. What does get published often seems dictated more by who owns the manuscript than by a work's intrinsic importance. Thus we have a facsimile of Francis Poulenc's Cocardes: Chansons populaires sur des poëmes de Jean Cocteau (ed. Catherine Miller, Fontes Musicae Bibliothecae Regiae Belgicae, ser. 1, no. 7 [Brussels: Bibliotheca Regia Belgica, 2000]), a relatively obscure set of three songs for voice and small ensemble, but no facsimiles of this composer's frequently performed, and much admired, Gloria or Dialogues of the Carmelites. None of Shostakovich's...


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