Monday, October 20, 2008

Great battles of textual criticism

[Klaus Beckmann's edition of the Buxtehude organ works] used a method of "internal textual criticism" ("innere Textkritik") which was based on inferred structural elements, analogies, and perceived musical logic. The result was a textually eclectic edition which a combination of conflation and conjecture that has proven extremely controversial.
[In this edition], no attempt has been made to reconstruct the readings of the composer's holographs. Recognizing that the texts of Buxtehude's free organ works must have undergone many changes both during and after the composer's lifetime, the editors believe that to present a text that claims either to be 'definitive' or, indeed, to be much more than a conservative rendering of an extant source can result only in text-critical and historical misrepresentation.

Christoph Wolff, writing in the introduction to the new Broude edition of Buxtehude's organ works. Italics mine.

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