University of Leeds



Project aims

The aim of this four-year project (2008-2012) was to create a database of 19th-century performing editions of string chamber music, together with analysis and contextualization of the material. 

Many performing editions, some supplied with detailed performance markings by their composers or by close contemporaries, and some produced long after the original works were composed and published, have been largely ignored as sources for the study of performance practices in recent times. Indeed, they have not been preserved systematically in research libraries and many are now proving difficult or even impossible to locate. Such editions were mostly edited by the leading instrumentalists of the time, and in many cases were influential well into the twentieth century. They contain, therefore, important evidence of how ideas about the transmission of performance occurred over a substantial historical period. They also provide considerable empirical evidence with which to approach questions of pedagogical practice, or the wider and equally vexed question of ‘schools’ of playing.

The project aims to bring together as complete a collection as possible of important editions of this kind.

It seeks to:

  1. collect and digitize, as far as possible, all such editions of music by specified major composers (Bach Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Spohr, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Franck, Fauré, Elgar) that were issued before 1930 (subject to copyright restrictions)
  2. include copies of these editions in which the printed performance markings have been supplemented or amended in manuscript by musicians of the period, or material without printed annotations that has been marked up in this manner
  3. include all obtainable editions annotated by important editors such as Pierre Baillot, Carl Lipinski, Ferdinand David, Jean-Delphin Alard, Friedrich Hermann, Edmund Singer, Joseph Joachim, Bernhard Cossmann, Friedrich Grützmacher, Johann Lauterbach, and Hans Sitt.

The database comprises a fully searchable, downloadable archive of scanned copies of sheet music, linked to explanatory text from such sources as instrumental tutors. In many cases the scanned music has been annotated using a system of clickable red boxes , which contain information about specific places in the musical text.

The website enables scholars to examine the work of individual editor-performers, compare editions by publisher, or compare the more important variants between texts, and also provides a large body of information regarding publishers’ plate numbers and their dating. The database is also a significant resource for performers, teachers and students, who will be able to see at a glance the different performing approaches applied to their repertoire over a considerable period of time.

The project outcomes at September 2012 consisted of:

  • An extensive database of annotated editions (with PDF print version)
  • Two international conferences in 2010 (2010 Conference Report) and 2012 (2012 Conference Report )
  • A series of articles linked to the database
  • Research papers arising from the conferences
  • Public performances, lecture-recitals and masterclasses

At the end of the funding period Clive Brown remains committed to enhancing the value of the resource. The search for additional material continues and further articles on historical background and performing practice are being added as new evidence arises. It is also intended, in due course, to add sound and/or video files where appropriate

[C. B.]

An earlier description of this project can be found in: George Kennaway, "Researching 19th-century performing editions: Leeds University’s AHRC Project", Early Music Performer 24 (2009).