Customer: “Hi, I’m looking for Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.”
Me: “Ok, do you want the Henle Edition, Peters, Wiener Urtext, Schenker, ABRSM, Alfred, Schirmer…or something else entirely?”
Customer, somewhat befuddled: “The normal one?”
I go through this exchange at least once a week with this specific piece, and it underlines one of the most confusing aspects of classical music. Which edition should I buy? Often parents coming in to buy music for their kids or people just getting started playing “serious” repertoire aren’t even aware that there are different editions, or that which edition you use matters.
Over the next few days, I’ll be using this space to explain some of the issues you should consider when choosing what edition of a piece to purchase. To start us off, here’s some information on Urtext editions.