Compared with their French and German counterparts, relatively few English first editions have survived to the present day. Whether this is the result of low demand within the local market,[1] limited distribution at home and abroad, and/or other factors is difficult to say. The English scores were even less widely disseminated on the continent than in England itself, and the fact that they made little headway in Europe after Chopin’s works entered the public domain may explain why so few copies are now held by continental and American libraries[2] and why the most significant collections of English prints are located in their country of origin.

As Table 12 reveals, multiple English editions of several works appeared on the market; in the case of Op. 63 No. 1 and Op. 64, this had to do with the factors discussed under ‘Legal contexts’. The Deux Valses Mélancoliques also came out in multiple editions published by Wessel and less than a year later by Ewer. Both were based on the somewhat earlier edition released in Cracow by Wildt, which did not benefit from copyright protection in England. The circumstances surrounding the Fantasy-Impromptu Op. 66 were more remarkable: at least four[3] London publishers rushed to bring out this composition despite the fact that they were in clear breach of copyright.[4]

Although this section focuses primarily on normal patterns of succession, reference should also be made to known first-edition reprints released by other firms. (See Table 13.) Details of such impressions preserving their original plate numbers are provided in the catalogue (see 64/1–1b-CHAP, 64/1–1b*-CHAP, 64/1–1c-CHAP, 64–1d-WE, 64/2–1a-CHAP, 64/2–1b-CHAP, 66–1a-CR, 66–1b-CR). Another edition of this type which lacks a plate number – a reprint of Chappell’s edition of the Etudes from Méthode des Méthodes – was released by Jullien & Co. in the series MACFARREN’S Universal Library of Piano Forte Music.[5]

[1] Notwithstanding the difficulty and stylistic novelty of Chopin’s music, the following remark of Liszt’s probably overstates the case: ‘On the subject of Publisher, Wessel, who has brought out the collection of Chopin’s works and lost more than 200 Louis from it, came to ask me to play some of his pieces in order to make them known here. As yet no one has dared risk it... I will play his Etudes, Mazurkas and Nocturnes – all of which are virtually unknown in London. That will encourage Wessel to buy other manuscripts from him. The poor Publisher is a bit tired of publishing without selling.’ (Letter of 29 May 1840; see original French text in Franz Liszt and Marie d’Agoult, Correspondance, ed. Serge Gut and Jacqueline Bellas (Paris: Fayard, 2001), p. 609.)

[2] The Chopin first editions in these institutions largely come from private collections. Particularly significant Chopin collectors have included Anthony van Hoboken, Arthur Hedley, Alan Tyson, James Fuld and George W. Platzman, whose individual efforts spawned greater general knowledge of these important sources.

[3] I.e. Ewer, Ashdown & Parry, Lamborn Cock, and Cramer. Other editions from the period not catalogued in this online resource were published by Robert Cocks in 1866 (No. 6 of H. B. Richards’ The Pianist’s Library; GB-Lbl: h.1392.(1.)), by Chappell in 1869 (Charles Halle’s edition; GB-Lbl: h.474.(29.)) and by Hutchings & Romer in 1871 (No. 34 of A. Gilbert’s Classics of the Pianoforte; GB-Lbl: h.1340.a.).

[4] A. M. Schlesinger possessed the rights in England thanks to the 1846 treaty discussed in The German States under ‘Legal contexts’ and in Publications of A. M. Schlesinger and successor (Robert Lienau) under ‘Chopin’s publishers’. The score of the Posthumous Works catalogued here under Posth–1-Sam was in fact the deposit copy that Schlesinger registered at Stationers’ Hall.

[5] Copy available at GB-Lbl with shelfmark h.1420.(5.).