Table of Contents
- Why is it important to buy the best edition for classical sheet music?
- What you will find on bestsheetmusicedition.com
- What Makes an Edition a Good Edition?
- 10 Best Piano Sheet Music Editions
Why is it important to buy the best edition for classical sheet music?
You may ask yourself, “Why do I care about which edition I use for my classical music score,” or “Why should I spend money trying to buy the best edition for the classical piece I am working on?” These are actually very important questions to ask.
Using a literary example, imagine if you are trying to read a Shakespeare Work. You would want to find an edition of Shakespeare that contains commentary notes and chapter summaries, right? If you purchase an edition without commentary notes or aids, it would be very difficult to read the English dialect of that time. With buying sheet music, it is very similar.
The reason so is because there are many bad, fallacious editions out there, and you do not want to accidentally purchase and study one of these scores. It is not only a waste of money, but a waste of time as well, as you spend your precious time learning erroneous sheet music.
These editions can usually be found on “free” sheet music websites, online public domains for sheet music, and sheet music websites where you can print the music on your printer at home. Sheet music from online public domains come from expired copyrights, and these copyrights are not renewed because the editions are full of too many errors.
Many musicians that use scores from “free” sheet music websites, online public domains, and online printed music websites complain that their scores have typos, bad fingerings, bad pedal markings, improper ornaments, and missing details.
Also, if you are competing in serious music competitions, the judges will not like to see that you are using a bad edition for your music.
If you want to be the best, then you need to use the best edition for classical music! Every top competitor in major competitions use the best editions to their music. Is this a coincidence? Think about it!
With this in mind, please take a good look at the information posted on this website. You may find surprising information on the best sheet music editions, and may want to click on the picture of the music so you can follow the link to purchase the score.
To read more about problems with public domain and other sheet music websites, please click on the following links:
What you will find on bestsheetmusicedition.com
On this website, you will find the best sheet music editions for classical music from the leading music publishing companies.
The composers you will find are:
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Ludwig Van Beethoven
- Franz Joseph Haydn
- Frederic Chopin
- Claude Debussy
- Alexander Scriabin
- Sergei Rachmaninov
- Franz Liszt
- Franz Schubert
- Robert Schumann
- Maurice Ravel
- George Gershwin
- And many more!
What Makes an Edition a Good Edition?
In the past, what made a music edition a good one differs greatly from the modern definition of a good music edition. In those times, it was a good thing to see many editor commentaries and personal suggestions that may have differed from the composer’s original intent. Musicians wanted to see originality in the editions, and to be able to see the ideas of the editor in the music.
While seeing editor notes can be a very good thing, a problem that occurred is that many editors would not make comments based on the original scores of the music they were commenting. They would often base their comments from another edition that already featured commentary notes from another editor. This would lead to many fallacious commentaries and details.
The change of trend for good editions of sheet music occurred with music editors such as Heinrich Shenker and, notably, Gunter Henle. In around 1948, when Gunter Henle, an accomplished pianist, wanted to make an edition of music that closely followed the original writing of the composer.
By studying the first edition of the music scores, notes of the composer, notes from the students of the composers, and other supplementary sources, an edition was made that attempted to show the composer’s original intent for the score. Many editions now follow this trend, and also add editor notes that try to not conflict with the original writing of the score.
To be short, what makes an edition good with today’s trend is showing the composer’s original intent, having commentary notes such as a preface, fingering suggestions (not always the case as with the Barenreiter edition), and performance practices, and showing what sources were used to determine the composer’s original intent.
10 Best Piano Sheet Music Editions
This list of best piano sheet music editions come from my personal experience of using these scores, and from research of what professional musicians say about these scores.
If you have purchased sheet music and it has not come from one of these editors, chances are, you have purchased a bad edition to your music. If you are going to spend money on sheet music, you need to do it right!
Editions are ranked from most recommended on top to least recommended on bottom.
Bärenreiter urtext was founded in 1927 by Karl Vötterle in Kassel, Germany.
This edition is best for composers Faure, Schütz, Johanne Sebastion Bach, Handel, Telemann, Gluck, Mozart, Schubert and Berlioz, as they have their complete compositions published.
Using the latest methods of musicology research and modern printing, Barenreiter promises the most qualified and authoritative editions.
ABRSM Signature Series
In the UK, ABRSM is one of the largest music publishers and the largest music education body. It provides quality exams for musical students all over the world. In its signature series, ABRSM provides high quality editions to classical composer’s works. It is now considered to be one of the best editions for any classical music score.
International Music Company
This edition was founded in 1941 by by A.W. Haendler in New York. This company is currently owned by Bourne Co. Music Publishers.
This edition’s cover has black text, and a simple, single colored background.
Noteworthy editors of this edition include Ferruccio Busoni, Kenneth Cooper, and Arthur Schnabel.
It is recommended to use this edition when studying a work by Johannes Brahms.
Wiener/Vienna Urtext Edition
In 1972, Wiener Urtext Edition was founded. This edition attempts to follow the composer’s original writing as close as possible. Inside of the sheet music score, there are “Preface,” “Critical notes,” and “Notes on Interpretation” sections. These sections give certain insights into the music, such as information on the history of the piece, what sources the editors used for the music, and how to play in the stylistic period.
This edition’s cover for its sheet music is in a deep, luscious orange.
Henle Verlag Urtext
You can never go wrong with the Henle Verlag Urtext. This edition, in its lovely and simple blue covering, is trusted and recommended by all professional pianist and teachers.
Founded by Gunter Henle in 1948, this great sheet music edition company focuses on printing urtext edition of the best classical composers.
Being an accomplished pianist, Henle came to notice that there were not any accurate editions of a composer’s musical work. Many of the editions that existed were filled with numerous errors and fallacious commentary that was added by previous editors and arrangers.
As of now, the Henle Verlag catalogue contains more than 1000 titles.
In the publishing house located in Munich, Germany, twenty-employees work for the Henle Verlag editions. These employees include musicologist with PhD’s and experienced music dealers.
Durand Salabert Eschig (Durand Edition)
In 1869, Auguste Durand, a composer and organist who studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Cesar Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns, founded the Edition Durand Salabert Eschig.
This edition is known for its high quality of producing sheet music from French composers, notably Debussy and Ravel. Composers who had their music composed in their lifetimes with Durand Editions include Louis Aubert, Andre Caplet, Claude Debussy, Paul Dukas, Gabriel Faure, Vincent d’Indy, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Camille Saint-Saens, and Florent Schmitt.
A notably editor for this edition is Alfred Cortot. Look especially for his edition of Chopin’s music.
Edition Peters has been publishing sheet music for over 200 years. In 1800, its founders, Franz Anton Hoffmeister and Ambrosius Kühnel, established the company in Leipzig.
It successfully published the music of the greatest contemporary composers of the time, such as Haydn and Beethoven.
The company’s name was “Neuer Verlag des Bureau de Musique” at the time. After the death of Kuhnel in 1814, the company was passed down to Carl Friedrich Peters, a Leipzig bookseller. This edition strives to produce cheap, yet critically accurate publications of sheet music.
Edition Peters is known for its yellow and light green cover page.
Alfred Masterwork Edition
The Alfred Masterwork Edition features piano sheet music of all kinds such as theory, piano favorites, and beginning books.
Notable editors of this edition include Dr. Maurice Hinson, Dr. Williard A. Palmer, and Stewart Gordon.
Dover Music Publications offers the cheapest and most inexpensive editions to your favorite music scores. Dover offers the widest variety of sheet music as well, in comparison to other music publishing companies. The covers to each of their sheet music is beautifully decorated and aesthetically pleasing to look at.
While their edition is the most affordable, they are known for having a few typos in their scores. If you are a amateur pianist who is not looking to spend too much for their sheet music, then Dover is the way to go. Their sheet music is an excellent first copy to any composer’s work to have.
In 1941, Haywood Cirker founded the Dover publishing company. This company focuses on publishing out-of-print titles of classical scores. For example, Their edition of the Bach Prelude and Fugues is a reproduction of the expired Bach-Gesellschaft edition.
While this edition is not known for its quality, it is known for having the best editions for rather obscure pieces, such as the Scriabin Piano concerto.
If you are looking for this edition, look for the black and gold text on the cover page.
Take special care of the sheet music for this edition, as the cover page is rather thin and does not protect the score too well.
Also, this edition is known for having quite a few typos.
Other Good Sheet Music Editions
Other editions that are very good, but did not make it to the list include: Paderewski, Budapest, Schirmer, Boosey and Hawkes, and Chappell/Intersong edition.
These editions did not make it because they specialize only with a specific composer. The Paderewski edition specializes with Chopin, and the Budapest specializes with Liszt.
The Schirmer and Chappell/Intersong editions, although are popular, did not make the list because they are known for containing errors and misprints. (Schirmer is actually good with Scarlatti and other Baroque composers)
Boosey and Hawkes does not provide meaningful insights into their editions.