Schubert Cycles*


Die schöne Müllerin, ed. Walther Dürr. Bärenreiter and Henle/Novello

Die schöne Müllerin, ed. D. Fischer-Dieskau and E. Budde. Peters

Winterreise, ed. D. Fischer-Dieskau and E. Budde. Peters

Schwanengesang, for high, medium and low voice, ed. D. Fischer-Dieskau and E. Budde. Peters


In their day, most singers and pianists must have performed, with great expression, one or other of the misprints to be found in the Peters edition of Schubert. But only Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has gone so far as to lend his distinguished name to a selection of errors, including some old Peters favourites but with a few new ones added: Perhaps these latter are the original features for which the Henry Litolff Verlag is claiming separate copyright in volumes that are described as Edition Peters on the cover but as a joint publication on the title-page. Their pricing policy is similarly Sibylline; thus the 52 pages of Schwanengesang cost £7.50 while the 70 pages of Winterreiseare offered for £4.80; the result of a freeze, perhaps. Strangest of all is the editorial policy. These new Litolff/Peters volumes are said to be the outcome of research into authentic sources combined with the experience gained in international concert practice. This latter claim strikes me as pompous nonsense. No amount of singing ever equipped anyone as a song editor; the relevant skills are different in kind. Take Schwanengesang, of which all three volumes are to hand (the other song cycles are also available in medium - and lower - voice versions at the same price). In the medium voice version it would be interesting to know whether authentic research or international experience is responsible for omitting the leger line from the C# at bar 29 of Liebesbotschaft, which makes it look like D; preferring “geträumt” to “geruht” in bar 31 of Kriegers Ahnung; misprinting B as C on the second semiquaver of bar 89 in the same song; misprinting “Klage” in bar 119 of Frühlingssehnsucht; and so on. The list could be extended; but after the fourth song I gave up in despair. No-one in that condition could begin to check Winterreise; but Die schöne Müllerin yielded even colder comfort. On abundant evidence, singers need advice on the interpretation of Schubert appoggiaturas; but on this, of all questions, the voice of experience is silent. In my view this defect alone renders the edition quite useless for any practical purpose. Here are some further samples of its level of competence. There is no indication of awareness of any alternative autograph for Morgengruss. The last top F in bars 2 and 20 of Mit dem grünen Lautenbande must surely be a mistake. Authentic research has failed to comment on, and perhaps even to notice, the manifest discrepancy between bars 37 and 46 of Trockne Blumen. And so on; I need hardly add that the English translation is indifferent. None of these strictures applies to the excellentUrtext edited by Walther Dürr for the Neue Schubert Gesamtausgabe and now offered by Bärenreiter and Henle as one item of a 17-volume selection (which also includes Winterreise, though notSchwanengesang). Just to make the comparison even more pointed, thisSchöne Müllerin is in my view much better-looking and also slightly less expensive. So all I can say about the new Litolff/Peters venture is cancel your copies now and avoid disappointment.


The Musical Times, May 1978 (p. 429) © the estate of eric sams