by Ricardo Odriozola



On the website www.musiciansway.com the guitarist Gerald Klickstein (author of the acclaimed book The Musician’s Way, OUP 2009) lists four types of editions: Facsimile, Urtext, Performance and Critical.


He gives the following definition of an Urtext edition:


In an urtext edition (i.e., “original text”), a publisher engraves a primary source of the music, such as a facsimile, into modern notation.


No alterations are made to the music, but a composition becomes much easier for performers to read and learn.


He defines Performance editions in this manner:


A performance edition presents a composition in a manner that an editor believes will facilitate a performer’s learning process, add expressive features to a piece, simplify notation and page turns, clarify technical execution, or make the music available at lower cost.


Often, no indication is given in the score as to the source of the music or whether an expressive or a technical marking originates from the composer or the editor.


Sometimes, pitches, articulations, and other elements are changed without notice.


… while he defines critical editions as follows:


Also known as scholarly editions, these sorts of publications analyze aspects of a composition or compare versions; they aren’t meant for use in performance.


For example, a critical edition of a Mozart piano piece might discuss the ways in which Mozart employed slurs and examine how slurs could be performed and whether they might be added when they aren’t notated.


Such editions often present snippets of music accompanied by text {…]




From the above definitions it appears that RO's editions of Harald Sæverud's string quartets Nos. 2 and 3 are a hybrid of the three types: Urtext, Performance and Critical. They address the differences found in the available sources. They also endeavour to present a visual representation that is as close as possible to the original manuscript(s). And they are made with the performers in mind: page turns have been carefully considered, even laying out more than two consecutive pages where a page turn is practically impossible after only two pages.


RO's editions rest on a long tradition of critical and urtext editions of historical repertoire by Bärenreiter, Henle, Editio Musica Budapest Eulenburg, Peters, Salabert, Schott and Universal to name a few.


  • Critical editions of the string quartets by Twentieth Century composers (some of them approximate contemporaries of Sæverud's) are in existence and can be considered forerunner's of RO's Sæverud editions.
  • Bärenreiter has published both of Leoš Janácek's string quartets, based on the Urtext from the original edition (for the first quartet) and the autographs (for the second quartet), including a list of all available sources and a detailed preface by the Czech musicologist and composer Miloš Štědroň https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo%C5%A1_%C5%A0t%C4%9Bdro%C5%88
  • Schott has done the same for Hindemith's seven string quartets, as part of the complete Hindemith Edition. The string quartets appear in the volumes 1 and 2 of String Chamber Music. A preface by the editors outlining the genesis and performance history of each work includes historically informed performance instructions, an evaluation of recordings made by Paul Hindemith himself and a critical commentary (https://en.schott-music.com/shop/streicherkammermusik-i-2-no275642.html)
  • An almost exact contemporary of Sæverud is the Spanish Fernando Remacha, born in 1898 (died in 1984). The past 20 years or so his sadly neglected music has experienced something of a renaissance, thanks to recordings, books written about him and the publication of the practical totality of his compositions, the last financed by the foundation Príncipe de Viana in Navarra. All the orchestral, chamber and vocal works have been published in authoritative critical editions. The most outstanding of these is the edition of Remacha's cantata "Jesucristo en la Cruz" (Jesus Christ on the Cross), which includes an exhaustive analysis of the work with references to Remacha's manuscript and sketches. A similar job, although in a smaller scale, has been done on Remacha's chamber music, which includes his rather Stravinskyan string quartet. Here also there are more than sufficient comments on the sources and corrections made to obvious misprints in the manuscript.

The publishing company Repertoire Explorer – Musikprodiuktion Hoeflich is the parent company of Amethyst Edition, which has published RO's critical editions of Harald Sæverud's 2nd and 3rd string quartets (as well as over 40 other Norwegian works and RO's book Opus Perseverat since May 2016). The guiding philosophy for Repertoire Explorer MPH is ... to change the world of music one step at a time. For this reason, we also produce first editions of neglected masterworks that should have been published long ago. These are always accompanied by the complete set of performance material.


The MPH website further explains: Every score is introduced with a scholarly preface (English, German), most of which are available online for preview. All this is made possible by a worldwide network of dedicated musicians, musicologists, and music-loving amateurs contributing in many different ways to the success of the series. https://repertoire-explorer.musikmph.de/en/


RO is deeply grateful for the existence of an initiative such as Repertoire Explorer and for their invitation to join their roster of "dedicated musicians, musicologists, and music-loving amateurs". The beginning of that venture coincided, propitiously, with the conception of the artistic research group (Un-)settling Sites and Styles. This finally made it possible for RO to realize his long-held wish of preparing performable critical editions of Sæverud's unjustly neglected chamber music masterpieces.


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Foto: Bente Elisabeth Finserås