Any musician who owns an excerpt book is well aware of how often errors find their way into our orchestral music. Unfortunately, these misprints are not only confined to excerpt collections—many editions of our printed parts come riddled with mistakes as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of these errors seem to appear in music from the first half of the twentieth century, during a period when composers began to include more highly detailed markings in their increasingly complex scores. This has had a huge impact on bassoonists, since many of our most prominent orchestral solos and excerpts come from twentieth century composers like Stravinsky, Ravel, and Strauss. So, as discussed in the Introduction, one of my initial goals for this project was to resolve any discrepancies in the bassoon parts, and the first step was to find accurate scores to compare the parts to.
In the case of composers like Mozart and Beethoven, I sought out Urtext editions of scores that were created directly from the composers’ original manuscripts. For other composers like Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, I used critical editions based upon their original manuscripts.1 Full holograph reproductions of the facsimile scores were also available for a number of pieces, and these helped me to further corroborate the accuracy of the published editions of the score.2
I quickly realized that locating accurate parts for every excerpt was going to be a much more labyrinthine process than initially planned, and in many cases my search led to a dead end. While my original intent was to match the bassoon parts to the same correct editions of the score, in many cases these parts were simply unavailable due to their inclusion in expensive, rental-only sets. Also, in some instances, the parts actually contained errors that did not appear in the matching edition of the score. Therefore, instead of searching endlessly for correct versions of parts, I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 to correct any misprints. Any corrections that have been made are listed on the website under that specific excerpt or score, and an example of the seamlessness of these corrections is shown below in Example 3.1.
Example 3.1. Mahler, Symphony No. 9, Mvt. II - bars 46 to 29 before the end, orignal and corrected versions
1 Many of these critical editions also include editorial commentary about discrepancies in previous editions of the score, as well as facsimile pages from the composer’s original autograph.
2 However, there are instances where the facsimile scores conflict with all editions of the published score, which is discussed further in the Conclusions.