Dating the editions
The Historical overview explores in detail the problems surrounding the dating of Chopin’s first editions. Here it suffices to raise a few further issues and to explain how dates in the ‘Comments’ section and in Appendices I & II should be interpreted.
Certain key sources – among them the registers of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the dépôt légal as well as periodicals from a range of countries – cite dates that differ from the actual publication dates of given editions by a few days or weeks. Preceded by the abbreviation ‘PD’ (Publication date), such dates are accompanied by indications in round brackets identifying their provenance – i.e. a particular register (e.g. F-Pn register, dépôt légal), the full or short form of a contemporary periodical (e.g. AmZ, Gazetta Musicale di Milano, GMP, KW, MlM, MW, RGMP, WZ), or details of a specific reference source (e.g. Deutsch 1961, Devriès and Lesure 1988). Given that dates in the Stationers’ Hall registers often concern the registration of the title rather than actual publication, these are signalled by means of the abbreviation ‘RD’ (Registration date), which is also used for five French proofs (i.e. 35–0-TR, 37–0-TR, 38–0-TR, 40–0-TR, 41–0-TR). The fact that such dates emanate from a single source means that additional references to their provenance are not required.
The catalogue extracts printed on one or more pages of single or multiple copies as well as on their wrappers have informed our decisions about the publication dates and periods of commercial availability of particular impressions. In such cases, the proposed date is accompanied either by the abbreviation ‘advt(s)’, indicating that it has been inferred solely from information on the latter page(s), or by the word ‘wrapper(s)’, which confirms that the STP on the front page thereof has also been taken into account when establishing the publication date. Both qualifiers appear within round brackets.
Conjectures about dates may additionally be based on our analysis of all the copies described under a given catalogue entry, Chopin’s correspondence, the contemporary press (largely the periodicals referred to above), and publishers’ stamps and catalogues. References and commentaries are provided in many such cases (e.g. 1–1a-Sam, 3–1-ME, 3–1-W, 5–1h-HO, 5–1i-HO, 11–1b-Sm, 11–1-W, 74–1-G) though not all (e.g. 1–1b-Sam, 1–1-Sm, 16–1-PL, 26–1c-Sm). We also utilise other ‘external’ evidence such as plate numbers and the dates of specific events (e.g. Julian Fontana’s departure from London and the concert given by Chopin and Moscheles at Saint-Cloud; see 1–1-W, 5–1-W, 28/1-14–1-W).
The reprints released by Wessel and his successors under the banner of the ‘Complete Collection’ pose distinct dating problems, likewise the analogous ‘Edition Originale’ of G. Brandus et S. Dufour and successors. A relatively precise date can be established for most versions of the Wessel STP, but those for which no reliable information exists have approximate dates preceded by ‘c.’ (i.e. circa). Dates have been proposed with somewhat greater confidence for editions in the Brandus series, based on an analysis of the tiny imprints found at the bottom of each version of the STP.
The attribution of dates to the German first editions is greatly facilitated by the fact that two new monetary systems were adopted during their commercial lifetimes (see The German states). The TPs of publications released before 1841 have prices in Thalers and Groschen, as against Thalers and Neugroschen for those published between 1841 and 1871. During the brief transition from 1871 to 1873 leading to the introduction of Marks and Pfennigs (see again the Historical overview), equivalent prices in old and new units appear alongside each another on many TPs, whereas from 1874 only Marks and Pfennigs were specified. All of this information is invaluable when dating particular scores, although for editions released between 1841 and 1871 a more refined approach is needed – one that takes into account the printing technique, changes within the music text, the content of wrappers and, in the case of Breitkopf & Härtel, the presence or absence of the publisher’s logo. On the basis of these various elements, one can often determine a range of possible dates as narrow as five years.
Equivalent prices prove to be especially helpful in dating late impressions of Austrian and Polish editions whose title pages reveal the replacement of old monetary units (either Thlr. and Gr. or Rs. and Kop. – i.e. silver rubles and kopecks) by those in Mk. and Pf. (e.g. 2–2b-Sam, 4–1a-Sam, 74–1d-G, HEX–1a-HAt).
To determine the dates of the series titles pages and catalogue extracts described in Appendices I & II, one must analyse all of the copies in which they appear. As we have already indicated, only a comprehensive study of this sort can produce reliable conclusions about the date of each copy – whether exact or within a sufficiently narrow range – and also about the chronology of the scores in question.
Publication dates have not been specified for editions/impressions where the available evidence is inadequate or unreliable. In such cases, the publication date can be assumed either to fall between those of preceding and subsequent impressions or editions for which dates can be established (e.g. 1–1b-HO and 1–1c-HO; 2–1a-HAt to 2–1d-HAt; 19–1b-W and 19–1c-W; 43–1b-SCHU to 43–1g-SCHU), or, alternatively, simply to post-date one or more impressions that definitely appeared earlier (e.g. 3–1a-R; 19–1b-PE and 19–1c-PE; 64/1–1c-CHAP).