The early and lasting success that Richard Strauss experienced with his works led, as a rule, to the publication and wide circulation of his compositions very shortly after their geneses. Today, nearly the entire oeuvre of Richard Strauss is readily accessible in scores, especially from the four-volume Gesamtausgabe of the lieder (ed. Franz Trenner, London, 1964, supplemented by a Nachlese [further selection], ed. Willi Schuh, London/Bonn, 1968) and the two series of the Richard Strauss Edition (vols 1–18: Complete Stage Works, Vienna, 1996; vols 19–30: Orchestral Works, Vienna, 1999), but also from single editions of chamber-music, piano and choral works, together with posthumous first editions of juvenilia, occasional and late works. Almost without exception, however, the editions in circulation are practical editions that do not satisfy more recent scholarly standards. Normally, they manifest only the music texts of earlier printed editions (usually unverified) or are based on only one manuscript source, without description, comparison, and external and internal source criticism. The historical first prints were also often produced under tremendous time constraints, thus exhibiting quite a number of errors only too often passed down to the present day.
The long-term research project Kritische Ausgabe der Werke von Richard Strauss, begun in 2011, funded by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and based at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, focuses on the compositions of Richard Strauss using modern philological methods for the very first time. It can thereby build on the valuable, foundational research undertaken in 2009–2012 by the DFG project Richard-Strauss-Quellenverzeichnis [source catalogue] (RSQV) at the Richard-Strauss-Institut Garmisch-Partenkirchen and published in the form of an online catalogue . New discoveries and insights arising from the editorial process are, in turn, helping to develop the source catalogue further.
The Kritische Ausgabe der Werke von Richard Strauss aims to present all stage works, genuine orchestral works, lieder and songs, as well as chamber-music works in newly-set scores that include a critical apparatus and employ modern methods of historico-critical editorial techniques – in editions that are intended to serve scholarship and have an impact on artistic practice. In total, the complete edition is expected to encompass 52 volumes (several of which will be divided into sub-volumes), organized into six series:
Lieder and Songs for One Voice
Symphonies and Tone Poems
Smaller Orchestral Works and Works for Winds
The project envisages an edition that incorporates, at least, the most important genres and work groups in Richard Strauss’s oeuvre, including the authentic or authorised alternative versions and the composer’s fragments and piano arrangements. Within the project’s planned timeframe it is not feasible to edit the choral works and the vocal ensemble music, the piano music (cf. the three-volume Frühe Klaviermusik, ed. Christian Wolf, Mainz, etc., 2003–2008), the melodramas, Strauss’s own orchestral reductions of his stage works, his arrangements of other composers’ works, together with the extremely extensive inventory of sketches, drafts and short scores. These limitations, however, by no means hinder the completion of the edition in the future.
The Kritische Ausgabe der Werke von Richard Strauss surveys, examines, and evaluates all verifiable and accessible sources for the works insofar as they originated in the composer’s lifetime, starting with the first complete draft of a given score. Sketches and short scores are consulted only in exceptional cases. Since a majority of the autograph sources are held by the Richard-Strauss-Archiv Garmisch-Partenkirchen maintained by the composer’s heirs, the Strauss family’s cooperation with the project is of great importance, as well as the collaboration with the Richard-Strauss-Institut Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Likewise, the evaluation of the composer’s extensive correspondence with publishing houses, poets and librettists, friends and relatives, conductors, musicians and concert organisers – many thousands of letters systematically recorded for the first time in a database as part of the project – is vital for the assessment of the sources and their readings.
The edition aims to present an authentic text of each work, free of writing, copying and engraving errors as well as of addenda not authorised by the composer, to come as close as possible to Strauss’s intentions, also in the presentation format. The edition is intended to stay as close as possible to the source that it uses as its foundation. In the introductions, basic information about the works (genesis, publication process, early performances and reviews) is conveyed and specific features of each volume are set out; the Critical Report gives information about the editorial and typographical conventions relating to the music, provides detailed source descriptions and evaluations, and documents the editorial interventions as well as readings of the relevant sources. Editorial addenda and corrigenda not supported by relevant sources are identified in the music text within square brackets; more important issues are commented on in footnotes or with references to the Critical Report. Following modern editorial practices developed by literary criticism, the verbal texts maintain the orthography of their principal source. Further editorial principles are always explained in the Critical Report.
An integral component of the project and of the individual editions is the online platform related to the Kritische Ausgabe der Werke von Richard Strauss.
It features synoptic comparisons of the texts used in the vocal works (for the lieder, the edited verbal text and poetic text model; for the stage works, other text versions as required, such as those from the score autograph, engraver’s model, first print, printed text book, piano reduction or other annotated typescripts and galley proofs). Differences can here be organised according to various categories, each highlighted graphically.
In addition, the online platform provides document collections for the large stage and orchestral works, redacted according to scholarly standards; they reproduce, in original text form, letters, reviews, and other documents (including pictorial ones) pertaining to the genesis and publication as well as to the early performance and reception history. The works and sources, persons, institutions, locations, and literature are identified through links with pertinent authority files. One year after the publication of the printed volumes, their constituent texts – introductions along with facsimiles as well as the Critical Reports – will be published on the online platform in digital form.
Long after the music volumes have been published, new source and document discoveries, new insights and even corrections to the music text can be noted on the online platform, so that in principle the critical edition of the works will never be outdated but can always be kept up to date with the most recent state of Strauss philology.
(Translation: Margit L. McCorkle)