10 Best Sheet Music Publishing Companies

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.

Barenreiter Urtext

best sheet music editions

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

best sheet music editions

http://us.abrsm.org/en/home

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

best sheet music editions

https://bournemusic.com/imc/

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

best sheet music editions

http://www.wiener-urtext.com/

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

best piano sheet music editions - Henle Verlag

http://www.henleusa.com/us/home/index.html

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)

best sheet music editions

http://www.durand-salabert-eschig.com/

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

best piano sheet music

http://www.edition-peters.com/

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

best sheet music editions

http://www.alfred.com/AlfredPiano/Masterworks

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 Publications

best music sheet editions

http://store.doverpublications.com/by-subject-music.html

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.

Kalmus Edition

best sheet music editions

http://www.efkalmus.com/

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.

 

The Leading Edition vs IMSLP

Chopin Scherzo 2 examined

 

In this post, we will examine the difference between using the leading edition for Chopin, the National Edition, and the cheap, free edition one can get from IMSLP.

While IMSLP is a good internet domain which provides quality information about classical music, it is dangerous to study a music score seriously from this website.

At best, you should only use music on IMSLP in case of an emergency, such as a last second rehearsal, or while you are waiting for your authentic score to come to you in the mail.

Measures 265 – 276 Examined

In this excerpt, Measures 265 – 276 of the Chopin Scherzo No. 2 are examined.

Here are images of the scores:

National Edition

best sheet music editions
Image used with permission of National Editions

Jan Ekier is the editor for this edition.

IMSLP

best sheet music editions

Herrmann Scholtz is the editor for the IMSLP score.

Already, visually speaking, we can see a stark difference between these two editions.

The National Edition features larger print, which makes it easier to read. The IMSLP version is very small, and it is harder to read some of the details such as the slurs, ties, and phrasing.

In the first and second measures (M. 265-266), we can already see a difference with the details. Notice how the C-sharp is sustained in the IMSLP version, but not in the National Edition? This is problematic.

The correct way to play this passage is to not sustain the C-sharp. In the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (who are recommended to study their pieces using the Polish National Edition – Source ), performers of this piece do not sustain the C-sharp in this measure.

In Measure 285-286 (not shown) the C-sharp becomes sustained in the National Edition, creating contrast between the two passages.

Also, take a close look at the counter melody in this passage. Do you notice a difference with the rhythms in the two editions? In Measure 268, the IMSLP version has the D as a dotted quarter note, followed by an eighth note with the C. In the National Edition, these notes are quarter notes.

In addition, look at the phrasing in these two editions from measures 265-276. The National Edition shows clear markings between each phrase. There is a slur connecting the phrase from M. 265-268, and M. 269-274. However, in Scholtz’s score from IMSLP, he chooses to use a slur from M 265-276. Using a slur in this way creates a completely different musical phrase.

Measures 334 – 341 Examined

National Edition 

best sheet music editions
Image used with permission by National Editions

IMSLP 

best sheet music editions

 

There are two issues that will be addressed within these excerpts.

These issues are fingering and pedaling.

Having good fingering is of utmost importance, as it will determine the success of playing a passage of music. With bad fingering, you may spend countless hours working on a passage, only to find that you will never play it well. This may lead to belittling oneself, and believing that you are not very skilled at the piano.

In measures 337-338, there is a difficult passage that requires critical thinking in terms of use of fingering. In the IMSLP version, it is recommended to use the fifth finger on the G-sharp in measure 337. Using this finger may work with slow practice, but once you play this passage at tempo, you will have extreme difficulty playing this note with your pinky. This is because your pinky finger is not very strong and is not the most suitable finger to use on a black key.

The Polish National version recommends to use the fourth finger, the ring finger, on this G-sharp. This finger is more suited for this passage, and will ensure a smooth performance of it. It also offers multiple suggested fingerings for the succeeding notes.

In addition, notice the difference in the use of pedaling between these two editions. In the National Edition, the pedal is sustained through measures 334 to the beginning of 336. This enables the bass line to come out more. With the IMSLP version, each measure is pedaled again. This makes it more difficult for the bass line to come out.

Purchase Best Edition Chopin

You can purchase the leading edition to the Chopin Scherzi here:

National Edition

best sheet music editions

Scherzos: Chopin National Edition 9A, Vol. IX (National Edition of the Works of Fryderyk Chopin, Series a: Works Published During Chopin’s Lifetime / Wydanie Narodowe Dziel Fryderyka Chopina, Serie)