Publications of Hofmeister

Hofmeister’s name appears twice in Chopin’s correspondence: in 1831 the composer’s sister Ludwika informed him that the Leipzig publisher wished to market the editions belonging to G. Sennewald (Brzezina’s successor),[1] and some eleven years later Chopin wrote to Breitkopf & Härtel explaining why he had sold a work to one of the latter’s chief rivals.[2] Hofmeister published Opp. 1, 5 & 51. Classifying the editions of the first two opuses is not straightforward in that their title pages give pride of place to the Polish publisher, thus creating confusion as to which one brought out the piece in question.[3] In fact, an unusual arrangement may have been made between the two firms which Chopin presumably would have approved. It is possible that Hofmeister prepared his editions on the basis of scores sent to him from Warsaw; in exchange for the rights, and without further payment, Sennewald accordingly would have been able to bring out newly engraved and corrected publications replacing the poorly lithographed, highly flawed earlier editions.

The evolution of the music text in Hofmeister’s editions is also noteworthy. Alongside the usual corrections (of which Op. 1 offers a good example), a much less common process of revision can be observed in the case of Op. 5 whereby the plates were gradually renewed in successive impressions (see 5–1a-HO, 5–1b-HO, 5–1c-HO, 5–1d-HO, 5–1e-HO, 5–1g-HO) or partially reengraved (see 5–1h-HO). In 1877–78, Hofmeister also published a new edition, revised by Zschocher, of all of the Chopin works in his possession; these preserved the original plate numbers but were released as part of the collection Altes und Neues.

None of Hofmeister’s Chopin editions uses colour. All of the later impressions were prepared by means of lithographic transfer; the defects resulting from this technique (for example in 51–1b-HO) are described under Printing methods.

[1] See the letter of 27 November 1831 in KFC 1955: i/195.

[2] See the letter of 15 December 1842 in KFC 1955: ii/356. The rather formal way in which Chopin cites Hofmeister’s name suggests that they were not personally acquainted. Hofmeister obtained Op. 51 through the intercession of his Paris agent Leopold Louis Sina, who, in a letter dated 4 January 1841 (see KFC 1955: ii/335), insisted on meeting Chopin to discuss works in progress which he clearly wished to acquire for his Leipzig employer. (For further information about Sina’s activity in Paris, see Probst’s letter to Breitkopf & Härtel of 10 March 1838 in Lenneberg 1990: 37.)

[3] Tomaszewski (1992a: 170, 186) classifies these as Polish editions.