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"A great genius can be given no more worthy testimonial to his honour than an accurate edition of his complete works." — Ludwig Ritter von Köchel, 1875

Hector Berlioz

Ludwig von Köchel, the compiler of the famous catalogue of Mozart's works, may not have had Hector Berlioz in mind when he made this statement. But the gist of it is fully applicable to Berlioz, and to the New Berlioz Edition. While preparations were underway to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Berlioz's death in 1969, the Berlioz Centenary Committee resolved to do justice to Köchel's words by raising a lasting monument to the great French composer: a modern scholarly-critical edition of his complete musical works. This edition was to be "new" in two respects. First, the initial "complete" Berlioz edition, supervised by Charles Malhebe and Felix Weingartner from 1900 to 1907, remained unfinished. But more than that, the Berlioz Edition was also meant to be "new" in its contents: it was to follow the latest scholarly guidelines for editions and to incorporate the most recent findings on the music. Compared to the complete editions of Bach and Mozart, however, the New Berlioz Edition was relatively young. Equally young were the musicians and musicologists who prompted its publication and supervised its production, among them John Eliot Gardiner and Hugh Macdonald.

Over the last 30 years, 20 of the 26 volumes planned for the New Berlioz Edition have appeared in print. The work is scheduled for completion in the year 2003, the 200th anniversary of Berlioz's birth. For the first time, the Edition also presents unpublished material, rejected versions and preliminary drafts, offering insight into the genesis of each work included. Sketches of unfinished works are made available to scholars for the first time in a new critical edition.

New Berlioz Edition cover

Finally, the corpus of finished works has been enriched in a completely unexpected manner with the addition of the "Messe solennelle," which was rediscovered by Frans Moors in 1991 [see MadAminA! Spring 1993]. The high scholarly standards of the Edition have drawn unanimous praise from the international music community, and have achieved enormous success in concert halls. Hugh Macdonald's editions of the three operas Les Troyens, Béatrice et Bénédict and Benvenuto Cellini, for example, have made Berlioz's masterpieces, in their complete forms, available to the international opera public for the first time. Performing materials for other important works in Berlioz's oeuvre, as well as vocal scores, piano reductions and study scores, have met with the same international success. This has encouraged the publishing house Bärenreiter on the basis of the New Berlioz Edition, to issue the performing materials for all standard repertoire works by the composer.

The New Berlioz Edition presents the authentic texts of the works of Hector Berlioz in a form aimed at satisfying both scholarly and practical expectations. Issued by the Berlioz Centenary Committee, London, in association with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon with Hugh Macdonald as Editor in chief.

"...in this way, the New Berlioz Complete Edition launched by Bärenreiter in 1969, the year of the Berlioz centenary, creates the basis for this composer to finally receive representative performances and to be understood in all his dimensions." —Bayerischer Rundfunk

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