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

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Image used with permission of National Editions

Jan Ekier is the editor for this edition.


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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 

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Image used with permission by National Editions


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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

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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)