Format, dimensions and physical contents

A music score published during the first half of the nineteenth century had little in common with those on the market today. It typically consisted of a series of folded loose bifolia (i.e. neither stapled nor stuck to one another) starting with a title page, followed by a number of leaves containing the music proper and possibly also blank sheets and/or extracts from the publisher’s catalogue (situated either between the title page and the music text or at the end); all of this was enclosed within a loose wrapper, i.e. a folded bifolium of coloured paper. The vast majority of Chopin’s first editions were produced in a folio format measuring approximately 360 mm in height by 270 mm in width.[1] One exception to this norm was the first editions published in Poland, all of which were produced in an oblong (landscape) format;[2] although close to those above, their dimensions were of course inverted.

Very few of the scores described in this catalogue have been preserved in their original state. Their size was frequently reduced during conservation work in libraries, when changes were made to their physical contents through the removal of blank sheets at the end and also the systematic disposal of original wrappers in order to economise on space and to give the semblance of continuity when individual copies were bound in library volumes comprising disparate scores.

A given edition would be made up of one or more gatherings, each containing an odd or even number of leaves; the extent of the music text would determine how many were required. For example, gatherings containing ten leaves are composed of five bifolia, while those with eleven leaves consist of five bifolia plus a further leaf (singleton) situated either in the middle of the section (thus, leaf 6 in the case of the hypothetical eleven-leaf gathering described here) or, exceptionally, elsewhere (as in the thirteen-leaf 22–1b-Sm, where leaf 10 is the singleton because of the way in which the music text was distributed). Only a few scores – including various albums and the volumes containing the Posthumous Works (i.e. Opp. 66–73) and Hamelle’s edition of Op. 74 – consist of multiple gatherings; otherwise, all of Chopin’s first editions contain no more than one.[3]

As the above comments suggest, a number of works were originally published in volumes, of which two types can be identified: those assembled from scores originally released as independent editions and thus containing individual pagination and one or more blank pages (see for example 15–1a-Sm and 45–1-ME), and those conceived as volumes from the start, which therefore have continuous pagination and no blank pages between works (e.g. 23–2-B&H, +45–1-Sm).[4] Some of the larger volumes of this second type contain half-titles[5] whose purpose is either to provide basic information about the volume’s contents or to introduce one of its constituent parts. Half-titles appear in the French and English editions of the Méthode des Méthodes (see MM–0-Sm, MM–1-Sm, MM–1a-CHAP, MM–1b-CHAP), the Posthumous Works published in Paris and Berlin (see Posth–1-MEIj, Posth–1-Sam), and the English edition of the Songs Op. 74 (see 74–1-LW). Several volumes also possess a table of contents or ‘index’ (i.e. ‘Inhalt’, ‘Inhaltsverzeichniss’, etc.; see 23–2-B&H, 33/1&2–1a-B&H, 45–1-ME, MM–1a-Sam, MM–1d-Sam).

Most of the dedications found in Chopin’s first editions are located on the title pages. Separate dedication pages exist in only six impressions catalogued in this volume, though they bear no connection to Chopin or his music as such. For example, the album published by A. M. Schlesinger contains a dedication page expressing the publisher’s gratitude to Princess Elisabeth Luise of Prussia,[6] while the dedication page in the Hexameron notes further to the information on the TP itself that the composition was dedicated to Princess Belgiojoso and moreover had been written for a concert organized by her (see HEX–1-RI, HEX–1-HAt, HEX–1a-HAt, HEX–1b-Sam). A number of works lack any dedication – i.e. Opp. 35–37, 42, 43 & 59, Etudes from Méthode des Méthodes, and Mazurka from La France Musicale.

Extracts from publishers’ catalogues appear in the majority of the English editions, irrespective of their publication date; generally these advertisements are located on a page between the TP and the music text, or possibly on the reverse of the last page of music text. Such extracts rarely appeared during Chopin’s lifetime in the French and German first editions; the few exceptions include reprints released in Paris by Pacini (see 42–1a-P) and by Chabal (see MEG–1b-CH, MEG–1c-CH), and certain German editions published by A. M. Schlesinger (see D-Bds copy of 32/1–1a-Sam, 32/1–1b-Sam, 32/1–1c-Sam).

During the second half of the nineteenth century, catalogue extracts were included with increasing frequency in continental Chopin editions.[7] In France, they appeared in the edition of the Posthumous Works published by J. Meissonnier fils and his successors, the Compagnie Musicale and E. Gérard et Cie; in Hamelle’s edition of Op. 74 (see 74–2a-H); and in Maquet’s reprint of Op. 9 (see 9–1g-M). Advertisements of this kind also appear in numerous publications of Breitkopf & Härtel,[8] five impressions released by Hofmeister (1–1d-HO, 1–2-HO, 5–1h-HO, 5–1i-HO, 51–1b-HO), and various editions of Bote & Bock (MEG–1b-B&B), A. M. Schlesinger (74–1d-Sam) and B. Schott’s Sohne (WaltzEm–1e-SCH). Two Polish editions contain similar extracts: the Deux Mazurkas published by Friedlein (MazG&B-–1-FR), and the songs Wojak and Źyczenie released by Kocipiński (74/10&1–1-KO, 74/10–1a-KO, 74/1–1a-KO).

The impressions of a given edition were by no means fixed either in content or in the order of that content: considerable variation occurred from one score to the next, especially when editions originally comprised an odd number of leaves. Numerous examples can be found in this volume where blank pages were added or removed, likewise advertisements. Such changes often necessitated commensurate adjustments to the pagination.[9]

[1] Note however that three albums containing Chopin’s music – i.e. 23–2-B&H, 45–1-Sm and 50/1–2-Sm – were originally smaller in size.

[2] Oblong editions were considered outmoded in the early nineteenth century and were gradually abandoned, although the format was retained for piano-duet repertoire, to which it is well suited.

[3] In producing sizeable works such as Op. 11, the Méthode des Méthodes, the album catalogued under 64/1–1a-BR, and Opp. 10 & 25 (each of which was released in France in a single volume), the publishers preferred to distribute the text over successive individually folded bifolia. This conclusion arises from the close study of scores which can be reconstituted in their original form as a series of ‘mini-gatherings’ consisting in each case of a bifolium. The assembly of music text in this way explains how two leaves in the second F-Pn copy of 11–1a-Sm became transposed, likewise the interposition of a Döhler etude between two of Chopin’s in the copies classed under MM–0-Sm: that is, both problems resulted from the folding of a bifolium in the wrong direction, as it were ‘inside out’.

[4] Naturally these volumes have nothing to do with the ones assembled by libraries to facilitate classification, storage and conservation.

[5] Half-titles can frequently be found on wrappers; for further discussion see Wrappers and covers.

[6] Two versions of this dedication page exist: see 32/1–1-Sam and 32/1–1a-Sam (D-Bds copy). Furthermore, all of the albums of A. M. Schlesinger contain a supplementary page designated in the catalogue entry as ‘lith blank dedication’, the purpose of which may have been to allow a purchaser to enter his or her own dedication by hand, when offering the score as a gift (see 32/1–1-Sam, 32/1–1a-Sam, 32/2–1-Sam).

[7] See Appendix II for detailed information on the evolution of the catalogue extracts.

[8] See 16–1b-B&H, 17–2a-B&H, 21–1d-B&H, 23–1d-B&H, 24–1c-B&H, 26–1b-B&H, 26–2-B&H, 26–2b-B&H, 28–1a-B&H and 29–1d-B&H, as well as the separate reprints of the mazurkas, nocturnes and polonaises in Breitkopf & Härtel’s ‘pour le Pianoforte’ series.

[9] The pagination of the following scores was modified: 12–1b-B&H, 12–1c-B&H, 12–1e-B&H, 16–1d-B&H, 20–1d-B&H, 23–1h-B&H, 24–2d-B&H, 27–1h-B&H, 27–1i-B&H, 32/1–1a-Sam (i.e. Kalkbrenner piece within D-Bds copy), 46–1d-B&H, 47–1f-B&H, 64/1–1c-CHAP and 70–1d-Sam.