Publisher Spotlight: Bärenreiter

baer_240pixelBärenreiter is a renowned German publisher. Founded in 1923, during an era in which there was a burgeoning interest in early music, Bärenreiter quickly developed its reputation for using musicological research to inform editorial decisions. Their editions are preferred by many musicians worldwide. So what is it about Bärenreiter publications that makes them so popular? Our interview with Bärenreiter staff, below, will answer that question and more!

Question: What is an Urtext edition? Why is it important?

Until the early 20th century, performers and music teachers were principally concerned with passing on their own performance instructions to up-and-coming generations of musicians. This led to the development of “instructive” editions, which included personal interpretations of bowing, dynamics, articulation, etc. Two of the most famous instructive editions were those by Artur Schnabel for the Beethoven sonatas and Clara Schumann for the piano works of Robert Schumann.

Because these editions contained major changes that were not originally written by the composer, there was a movement during the middle of the 20th century to return to a musical text free from any extraneous input. In a nutshell: Urtext editions are edited by specialists who take all available sources of a particular work into account and strive to put together a musical text as close as possible to the composer’s original intentions. more “Publisher Spotlight: Bärenreiter”

What is an Urtext Edition?

by Kevin Harper

We’ve all seen the term “Urtext Edition” when shopping for sheet music. But what does that mean? How is it different from other sheet music? Let’s begin with the definition of “Urtext”.

Germans famously love to combine separate words into one long word. In this case, we have the German words Ur and Text. The oldest city in the world was the city of Ur in modern-day Iraq. This word became part of the German language, meaning original, ancient, or great. For example, Great-grandfather in German is Urgrossvater. Germans use Ur to describe something that is not only very old, but also respected and distinguished.

The meaning of Text in German is easy to figure out. It is a cognate of our English word, which means they have the same definition.

So we’ve established what the word Urtext means, but what in the world does it have to do with music? Publishers use the term to refer to old editions of music, particularly those that have the music written in the hand of the composer, or with annotations and guidelines in the composer’s own words. more “What is an Urtext Edition?”