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Such an approach meant presenting music in the forms with which musicians and audiences of the present were familiar; when in 1829 Felix Mendelssohn revived J. Bach's Retrospective editions followed the same practice: this meant that realized continuos might be provided; lyrics would be syllabified and underlaid with a precision lacking in many earlier sources; and accidentals would be handled in accordance with modern conventions.
On the other hand, there are what may be called "enabling" editions, editions that are prepared expressly for the purpose of facilitating the performance of musical works.
These editions provide the technical guidance (fingerings, bowings, breathing indications) and interpretive suggestions (tempi, dynamics, ornamentation) that will enable performers to perform works effectively.
These are what we may call "historicizing" editions: each offers a text that reproduces as closely as available evidence permits a text that existed at some specific moment in the past, often the moment at which the composer decided his composition was finished and laid down his pen.
Concerned with a particular historical moment, these editions endeavor to avoid the introduction of anything that is not of that moment.
Unacceptable in this view were the fingerings and bowings, the tempi, dynamics and phrasings that many editors had been accustomed to adding: in short, this new approach called for the elimination of all those aids that non-specialists of the day might have needed in order to have access to the music of earlier times.
This new sort of edition was called "Urtext," a term that musicology borrowed from German philology.It is with music of the past—sometimes the quite recent past, but viewed in historical perspective—that editing music is largely concerned.For music of the present, the two factors that most concern editors—the authority of the text and the need to make the work accessible to the edition's users—are not at issue.Such concessions to contemporary expectations relieved performers of much of the responsibility for determining important aspects of how a work they were playing would sound.(For a musicological edition prepared in this spirit, see Exhibit 3.) Towards the middle of the nineteenth century, however, developments in philology—Karl Lachmann's popularization of stemmatics is perhaps the best known—led editors of musicological editions to re-examine the premises upon which editions were being prepared.These editions were intended to preserve England's musical heritage; they were the musical counterparts of the collected editions that had long been testifying to—and contributing to—the stature of English literary figures and Classical authors.With the rise of national (or, more precisely, ethnic) consciousness, German-speaking editors set about to preserve the German musical heritage, and editions of major German composers' works were undertaken.Works written for large orchestras may be cross-cued or transcribed for smaller ensembles.Difficult works may be simplified to bring them within the capability of the performers for whom the edition is intended.Prior to the eighteenth century, interest in music of the past was not a notable feature of European musical taste.It was in England, towards the middle of the eighteenth century, that interest in "ancient music" led to the first large-scale modern "historical" editions: William Boyce's (1763-93), and Samuel Arnold's Handel edition (1787-97), to name the most important.