On the Beauty of Printed Music

October 14, 2011

Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu recently posted about the importance of printed music on his excellent blog.  Lintu reflects on different criteria that make up a musical edition, including purely musical matters as well as the physical and practical construction of the book.

Narrating the journey of discovery, known well to all music students, that leads musicians away from the most base editions to quality products by world-renowned publishers, Lintu explains how the Urtext designation signifies an important step in musicological study but also erases the history of musical insights that can be gleaned from the editors pen.

Although the online purchasing of printed music is becoming more common, Lintu explains how important it is for musicians to put their hands on printed music and thumb through the pages before purchasing.  A musical edition is made up not only of musical content, after all; it is also a physical product.  The quality of paper, the clarity of engraving, attention to details like page turns, and especially the strength of binding all important criteria of a musical score:

“I myself find that, more and more often, my choice of edition is dictated by practical considerations. I seem to be guided more by extra-musical criteria: the quality of the paper, the binding, and especially the font. The fact that I can, in a fit of frustration, hurl the score at the wall without the binding falling apart is sometimes more important than whether the staccatos are marked with dots or wedges.”

Lintu’s post warms our hearts here at The Leading Note.  We have long shared his enthusiasm for the variety of details that make up a quality edition.  Our staff put a lot of effort into choosing the best editions to stock on our shelves and we are aware that the tastes of musicians are as varied as editions themselves.  A quality edition will bring a lifetime of use and joy.

Come round to our store sometime and thumb through a few pages.  You’ll know what we mean!

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