"Facsimile Edition" by Steven C. Immel
(from New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, 2002)
Facsimile Edition (Latin, fac simile, make similar) Name given to a genre of book publishing based on photomechanical printing techniques that attempts to recreate the appearance of an original hand-written manuscript or printed edition. Facsimile reproductions employ a wide range of photographic methods and materials. The most sophisticated try to be as faithful to the original as possible by replicating its size, colors, paper, binding and, sometimes, physical condition. It is important to note that facsimile editions are not fakes or forgeries. They are produced, conceived and used as tools for study or investigation by scholars, researchers, teachers and others who might not have access to the original material, although they occasionally become collectible in their own right due to instances of exceptional craftsmanship or rarity.
The invention of photography and the related development of photomechanical printing in Europe during the first half of the 19th century produced the technology that made it possible to make photo-realistic reproductions of original documents on a relatively large scale. This was the first time in the 400-year history of printing that gray-scale images could be passed to paper via the printing press. Using a camera device, an image of the original was first recorded on a photosensitive negative and then transferred to a glass or metal plate that had also been treated with a photosensitive material. The plate, "tanned" by light and now capable of attracting greasy ink, was then mounted in a press to produce identical prints. The first facsimile copies found in printed books of that time were glued onto pages, tipped-in, or included as loose sheets. Publishing an entire facsimile manuscript, however, was a truly revolutionary idea; it led to the emergence of a new genre in music publishing: the facsimile edition.
Facsimiles were adopted eagerly in the late 19th century by the learned societies of Europe which published them for their members and friends. These publications were usually empirical studies aimed at interpreting original texts. Many included dissertations and modern transcriptions of the ancient musical notation. These societies tended to focus their interests on major composers such as Bach, Handel, Mozart and Brahms, or on the study of specific topics such as liturgy, medieval music & literature.
The first notable complete facsimile editions of original manuscripts were Handel's Messiah, produced by the Sacred Harmonic Society of London (executed by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, London, 1868) and Schubert's Erlkönig, produced by Wilhelm Müller (executed by the Photo-Lithographisches Institut der Gebrüder Burchard, Berlin, 1868). The Messiah was a major achievement in length (278 pp) and format (32 x 26 cm). Both editions are examples of "line-cuts," a term applied to high contrast images that contain no intermediate gray tones. The Erlkönig is the first facsimile to use a second ink color (orange), overprinted to illustrate corrections in the original manuscript. Because of the degree of experimentation with various processes and techniques used at the time, it is sometimes difficult to determine the exact techniques employed in some of the earliest examples.
Use of a photolithographic process starting in the late 1800s called collotype is easier to identify. Collotypes were made with dichromated gelatin-coated glass plates that produced a screenless halftone image characterized by a fine random grain structure and relatively high resolution. The Société St.-Jean l'Evangelist & Desclée & Cie. (Tournai) published a collotype facsimile edition known as Paléographie Musicale for the monks of Solesmes. Produced under the direction of André Mocquereau, the first volume, St. Gall 339, appeared in 1889, followed shortly by Einsiedeln 121 and British Library Add. 34209. Other collotype facsimiles editions include early reproductions by the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society, London and the Société des Anciens Textes Français, Paris. These early collotypes appear somewhat "wooden" due to their still relatively narrow tonal range. Collotype plates wore out rapidly or often broke under the pressure applied to them. This technical problem, in addition to the small memberships of the sponsoring societies, usually limited press runs to fewer that 300 copies.
Traditionally, facsimiles have been published to celebrate anniversaries, musical discoveries, and other special occasions. Early examples of this practice include Das Autograph des Oratoriums "Jephtha" (Deutsche Händel-Gesellschaft, Hamburg, 1885) which marked the 200th anniverary of Handel's birth, Beethoven's As-dur Sonate Op.26 (photolithography by Albert Frisch, Bonn, 1895), which commemorated the rediscovery of the manuscript, and Bachs Handschrift in zeitlich geordneten Nachbildungen (Bach Gesellschaft, Leipzig, 1895)—an impressive anthology of 142 large-format plates from 34 different compositions spanning the composer's career.
The beginning of the 20th century up to the outbreak of World War I saw the publication of at least 20 major facsimile editions, many of them introduced by leading scholars. These works include Antiphonale Sarisburiense (London, begun 1901), Le roman de Fauvel (Paris, 1907), Cent motets... manuscrit Ed.IV.6 de Bamberg (Paris, 1908), Mozarts Requiem (Vienna, 1913), and Henry M. Bannister's Monumenti vaticani di paleografia musica latine (Leipzig, 1913). Advanced photographic materials with improvements in tonal range and definition made the collotype the process of choice. Mozarts Requiem, produced by the Gesellschaft für Graphische Industrie, was printed in two colors (the main "text" a gray-to-black monochrome, and the "third" foliation in red ink). It was also during this time that publishers and composers began turning to the facsimile process to publish first editions of manuscripts as a less costly alternative to traditional music score engraving. Among the first companies to do so was Universal Editions of Vienna with publications like Schoenberg's faircopy facsimile of II. Streich-Quartett (score & parts, 1911) and Gurrelieder (full score, 1912).
Following the hiatus caused by World War I, work resumed on facsimiles with such intensity that the decade 1918-1928 could be called the "golden age" of the facsimile edition and one that, more than any other, defined the genre. For the first time, publishing houses, either alone or with the aid of specialized photolithographic ateliers, developed systematic publishing schedules that laid out whole series of facsimile works by European composers. The leading publishers included Insel Verlag in Leipzig, Drei Masken Verlag in Munich, Universal Edition and Wiener Philharmonischer Verlag in Vienna. The names of the lithographic specialty firms Albert Frisch (Berlin) and C.G. Röder (Leipzig) constantly appear in the production credits of these editions.
This golden age saw the creation of about 50 editions. The first major postwar facsimile, by Frisch, was Drei Briefe Mozarts in Nachbildung, a beautiful reproduction of 3 autograph letters in the folded format of the original. 5 major choral works of Bach appeared; 2 of them show the trend towards employing multiple colors, the Passio ... secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum (Leipzig, 1922), a quasi 2-color collotype executed by Frisch with red ink for the biblical text, and Kantate "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" (Leipzig, 1926), a true 2-color collotype by Röder with a light beige ink providing the background ambiance of the original manuscript. Beethoven's Sinfonie mit Schluß-Chor über Schillers Ode (Leipzig, 1924), also by Röder, includes a second color as well, but here the publishing milestone is in its great format, 36 x 40 cm. Editions that are conservative monochromes but ones that stand out for their format and breadth include 3 complete Wagner operas—Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, all created by Drei Masken Verlag of Munich between 1922 and 1925. Of the 4 Beethoven piano sonatas that appeared, the Sonate appassionata (Paris, 1927), by Edition d'Art H. Piazza, is probably the most remarkable for its craftmanship. The facsimile incorporated a full-color process in which each ink was first matched with the original and then meticulously printed with multiple press passes, one color at a time, recreating the original in all its detail (the irregular grain structure of the collotype allows unlimited overprinting without creating moiré patterns). Besides duplicating the original binding and end papers, the facsimile also captured imperfections of the original, like its waterstains and clipped first page.
Publishers began to pay homage to some composers of the time with facsimiles of their works. Among them was Strauss' Tod und Verklärung (Vienna, 1923), Mahler's Zehnte Symphonie (Berlin/Vienna, 1924), produced in the original loose fascicle format with some irregular page trimming and a collection of 8 sketch pages, and Faure's last composition, Quatuor Op.121 (Paris, 1925). In general the works of the 1920s represented the highest standard of book production, and as such, many were "luxury" publications, used by a small and relatively elite audience. But the period also saw the launching of facsimiles of a more utilitarian and practical nature; Martin Breslauer and Bärenreiter were pioneers of lesser-known works from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Great Depression and the impact of World War II severely curtailed facsimile publishing from 1930 to 1950. Surprisingly, magnificient facsimile editions were still produced, although they tended to be less extravagant, usually monochromes, and more often than not, the choice of titles was dictated by political considerations. Frisch is responsible for Beethoven's Fünfte Symphonie (1941), Weber's Der Freischütz (1942), and Schubert's Lieder von Goethe (1943), with the latter two containing some rather remarkable color process work (on coated paper) in the introductory sections. A most fascinating production was Mozart's Briefe und Zeichnungen, edited by Erich H. Müller von Asow and published by Alfred Metzner in Berlin, 1942. The facsimiles (by Frisch) of several hundred letters were produced to accompany Müller von Asow's critical edition; they were printed on fine paper and painstakingly folded to match the originals. Röder continued to produce beautiful photolithography, its best example being Bach's Inventionen und Sinfonien published for C.F. Peters, c.1942. A series of fine but modest facsimiles inspired by Sydney Walton and known as "Harrow Replicas" was published in England during the early 40s, and issued by W. Heffer & Sons in Cambridge (photolithography by Chiswick Press, London).
A watershed for printing technique for a large format facsimile—40 x 30 cm—is seen in a facsimile edition of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, brought out by Giovanni Treccani degli Alfieri in 1941 and executed in photolithography by Emilio Bestetti in Milan. The tone quality was achieved by a fine halftone screen, a process where the image is represented by thousands of minute dots. The dot pattern was used for the "primary" ink only (gray-to-black) and positioned diagonally; a second ink—yellowish-brown in tint—provided the necessary color nuances of the original. The printing was probably done on an offset press (a process that prints by transferring the ink from a flat plate or cylinder to a rubber blanket which deposits the ink on the surface being printed). Though it was a well established process and especially desirable for smaller format reproductions and printed text, the use of offset here, for a large deluxe facsimile, signaled a change in facsimile production. Since collotype plate making was quite tedious, time consuming and not feasible for large printing runs, it was just a matter of time before facsimile reproductions would follow the printing shift to the photo-offset press.
After 1950, facsimile editions were printed either in collotype or photo-offset; the former was still favored by the traditional facsimile publishers but the latter slowly gained ground by the 1970s. At the same time, a related genre, the reprint edition, began to appear. These are basically more economical reproductions, usually produced as line-cuts on the more efficient photo-offset presses, in reduced format and larger editions. From the 1950s to the 1970s, postwar economic growth and the accompanying boom in educational spending fueled an astounding proliferation of publishing activity. The main reprint firms that include Arnaldo Forni (Bologna), Éditions Minkoff (Geneva), Georg Olms (Hildesheim), Gregg (London), Broude Brothers (New York) and Zentralantiquariat (Leipzig) produced thousands of inexpensive editions. The collotype process was still the basis of many deluxe facsimile editions and the choice of several of the specialist firms operating in Stuttgart during the 50s and 60s and in the Leipzig area almost up to 1990. Outstanding among these collotypes editions are Schumann, Jugend-Album Opus 68 (Editions Peters/Röder, Leipzig, 1956), Haydn, Messe B-dur ("Schöpfungs-Messe") (Henle/Schreiber, Munich, 1957), and Debussy, Prélude à l'après d'un faune (Robert Owen Lehman, New York, 1963—a 4-color work printed in France).
On the other hand, extremely good results were also being achieved by the 1970s with offset technology and halftone screening; fine color examples include Brahms, Symphonie No.4 in E Minor (Eulenberg, Zürich, 1974), Beethoven, Konzert für Violine und Orchester (Akademische Druck- & Verlagsanstalt, Graz, 1979), Richard Wagners Siegfried Idyll (Coeckelbergh, Zürich, 1983), Stravinsky, L'oiseau de feu (Geneva, Minkoff, 1985), and Mozart, Requiem (Akademische Druck- & Verlagsanstalt, Graz, 1990). This new technology plus the addition of laser scanners for color separation, a 4-color process (yellow, magenta, cyan and black), and presses that are able to print these colors on a single pass, has been used in many of the latest generation of facsimiles. The color nuances of the original have never been captured so completely but because many offset productions have opted for pure white "coated" paper in order to enhance color hues and reduce moiré patterns, the tactile experience of natural papers, so nicely achieved in many older editions, has been lost. Although the market does not require it yet, these modern offset presses, unlike their flat-plate collotype counterparts, are also capable of press runs of many thousands without sacrificing quality. It is still too early to comment on the significance of new digital technology, such as the CD ROM and color laser printing because the full potential of this media has not yet been realized.