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MUSC 229: Thinking about Music (HC)

Music 229: Thinking about Music: Ideas, History, and Musicology (Freedman) Fall 2021

Historical Editions

The term ‘historical edition’ may be applied to any music publication that is devoted to a past repertory. The class of historical edition most valuable for the study of original versions of past music is the ‘scholarly’ or ‘critical’ edition.

  • Prepared on the basis of a critical evaluation of all known primary sources, this class of edition is designed to present the most authoritative authentic version of its contents, with editorial material clearly distinguished from the original.
  • The scholarly edition may be contrasted with the ‘practical’ or ‘performance’ edition, which is usually produced from unstated or secondary sources and may incorporate additions or changes designed to help the modern performer.

Historical editions can be further subdivided as:

  • Collected Editions (also known as a ‘Complete Edition’ or ‘Gesamtausgabe’)
    • Publications that present a complete repertory, either the complete works of a single composer
  • Monuments (also known as ‘Denkmäler’)
    • Multi-volume series in which the majority of individual volumes present a unified musical repertory derived from the same or from closely related original sources
  • Anthologies
    • Historical publications of selections and excerpts from a variety of musical sources; Subdivided into:
    • ‘extended anthologies’ (containing five or more volumes published over a period of five or more years) and
    • ‘small anthologies’.
  • Facsimile series (not, strictly speaking, editions), in which sources are reproduced with or without additional editorial comment, are included under collected editions of music.

Charles, S., Hill, G., Stephens, N., & Woodward, J.  Editions, historical. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 31 Oct. 2021, from

What are Musical Monuments?

Musical Monuments (also known as ‘Denkmäler’) are collected editions that focus on a particular country, region, or type of music rather than in a specific composer. Browse the M1-M2 section in the Scores Stacks area of the Nan & Bill Harris Music Library.

What are Collected Works?

Collected Works (also known as Complete Editions or Gesamtausgabe) are Scholarly Editions of sets of printed music of a composer’s complete works. They are compiled by scholarly editors to try to give the closest indication of what the composer truly intended. Collected Works include a Critical Commentary that discusses any alterations in the edition (notes, accidentals, ornaments, dynamics, etc. The editors refer to any manuscript sources available and also research whether the composer later made changes (such as notes or cuts, etc.). 

How to find Monuments & Collected Works?

Look for a particular work of a Composer:

  1. Use the Oxford Music Online database to do a search for more prominent composers.
  2. Scroll to the top of the article about the composer and select the "Works" tab under the entry for the composer.
  3. This page contains information on each of the composer’s works. If you are having trouble finding the piece you need, ask the Music Librarian for assistance.
  4. Open Tripod and perform an advanced keyword search.
  5. In the first search box, type the composer’s name (last name, first) and choose “Author” for the field type.
  6. In the second search box, type the title, opus number and/or catalog number and choose “Title” for the field type.
  7. In the third search box, type the word “works”  and choose “Title” for the field type.
  8. Limit search to printed music, click on "Other Material Type" menu and select "Music Score."
  9. Click “Submit.”