Frédéric Chopin and the Chopin National Edition

Who is Frédéric Chopin?

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish French composer and pianist of the Romantic period, who was best known for his solo pieces for piano and his piano concerti. Although he wrote little else but piano works, he ranks as one of music’s greatest tone poets. It was clear that his love for music developed from a very young age. Young Chopin studied piano with Wojciech Zywny and gave his first concert when he was 8, and rather quickly outdistanced his teachers. By the age of 16, he had composed several piano pieces in different styles, and his parents enrolled him in the Warsaw Conservatory of Music.  Chopin only gave 30 public performances in 30 years of concertizing. While seriously ill with tuberculosis, he managed to complete the 24 Preludes, Op.28. He has composed 20 nocturnes, 25 preludes, 17 waltzes, 15 polonaises, 58 mazurkas and 27 etudes.

What is the Chopin National Edition?

Chopin is among the most frequently published composers of music; there are over seventy collected editions of his works. The aim of the Chopin National Edition is to present in the most authentic way possible, the complete musical works of Fryderyk Chopin. In Chopin’s works, he was able to include many interpretive suggestions – notation of his music is not only an instruction but also an inspiration for the performer. That is why it is extremely important for the printed text to reconstruct as faithfully as possible the spirit of Chopin’s manuscript. For this reason, the Chopin National Edition presents Urtext editions of all Chopin’s works. Urtext means “original text.” Because many works have been heavily edited over the years, the goal of an Urtext edition is to return as closely as possible to the composer’s original intent.  The National Edition is based on sources originated from the composer, mainly autographs, copies of autographs and first editions with the composer’s corrections, and pupils’ copies with Chopin’s annotations. In cases when original sources were lacking, the closest possible materials were used. Collecting these source materials was a laborious task which took years of effort.

The National Edition forms a reliable and comfortable basis for scientific research. Each book comes with Source Commentaries that evaluate the degree of their authenticity and discuss important divergences.

Principally, however, the National Edition is addressed to the performer. In the music text, beside Chopin’s fingering, there is fingering used in contemporary concert practice and the Performance Commentaries explain all these elements of music notation.

Praise for the Chopin National Editional

“The National Edition is so far the best available Chopin edition made with extreme care and precision”

Professor Paul Badura-Skoda

“By far the best of the modern editions is Jan Ekier’s Polish National. Ekier does work with well thought-through editorial principles and his text comes closer than any other to a faithful reproduction of a single (‘best’) source.”

Professor Jim Samson

“A new urtext of Chopin’s Works prepared by professor Jan Ekier seems to be very trustworthy. Having compared all the different sources available, Professor Ekier was able to make good editorial decisions.”

Professor Frans Brüggen

 

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