Berlioz' Grande Messe des morts is fortunately relatively free of problems regarding the text in its modern editions. For many years the standard edition has been that of the Weingartner-Malherbe of 1903, now known as the Old Berlioz Edition and here referred to as OBE, while the New Berlioz Edition of 1978, here called NBE, presents some of the most recent scholarship with regard to accents and phrasing.
The first published edition of the GMdm was issued by Schlesinger in 1838, obviously very quickly after the premiere performance. Numerous changes were made in the score of the autograph, and apparently in the plates for this edition as well. Berlioz undertook a revision for the Ricordi edition of 1853 (in conjunction with the Brandus parts of 1852); and further emendations suggested by the composer found their way into a posthumous edition from Brandus published sometime after 1877. Kindermann's list of readings in the Appendices of the NBE indicates these variations between editions, in particular specifying rejected versions of the actual musical text, as well as collating sources for phrasing, markings, and so forth.
The OBE was chiefly based on this posthumous edition, and its musical editor Felix Weingartner apparently attempted to derive a consistent musical approach to the matter of accents and phrasings, along with some alterations in the scoring (i.e. substituting tubas for the ophicleides). The NBE takes a more purist approach, and indeed Kindermann was able to utilize a far wider variety of source material than was Weingartner in his day.
There exist as well many additional publications of the GMdm. While these have not been collated, note has been made in the present study of some variant textual readings in two notable corrupt editions. Obviously a more thorough study of the many publications would throw more light on the performance practice of this composition.
Copyright © 1983, 1995 by Matthew B. Tepper
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