In The Critical Editing of Music (1996) James Grier called Georg Feder's Musikphilologie (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1987) "the most important contribution to date" on textual criticism in music and "the only one that considers the full range of critical issues in editing" (Grier p. 14). Pendragon Press’s edition of Feder’s Music Philology now makes available in English translation this essential intellectually engaging but concise discussion of the complex and multi-faceted tasks in traditional scholarly editing of music.
January 20, 2012
Music Philology: An Introduction to Musical Textual Criticism, Hermeneutics, and Editorial Techniques is a precious monograph on musical textual criticism and editorial techniques aimed primarily at instrumental, not vocal music. Translated to English from the German work by Bruce MacIntyre with expert assistance (see Translator's Preface Acknowledgements, pp. x-xii), Music Philology makes the work of Georg Feder (b. 11-30-27, d. 12-11-2006) in musical textual criticism accessible to the English speaking audience. With precise analytical thought and logic, Music Philology is divided into eight chapters. They are, in order, I. Presuppositions, II. Definition, III. Foundations, IV. Textual Criticism, V. Hermeneutics, (including rules, or canons, objects of understanding, and the compositions's meaning,), VI. Work Criticism (Musical Aesthetic of the Variant), VII. Editorial Technique, and VIII. Remarks on the History of Textual Criticism in Music. Because the author created most of the text in the late 80's, a General Comments section in the beginning notes that "the translator has made some emendations when more recent discoveries, new publications, or electronic technologies warrant them (p.xii)." Although the essential nature of music philology is perhaps obscure, there is no doubt that this seminal work presents a defining setting of the compass upon the deep vastness of the universe of composed music (William Blake's painting echoes in the mind as these pages are read).
The core value of Music Philology perhaps undeniably rests in much of the content of Chapter V. Hermeneutics, including hermeneutics canons, the meaning of the musical text - transcription and performance, and the composition's meaning. But flashes of analytic brilliance light many of the digressions, including most spectacularly Digression 4 (Chapter VI., Work Criticism), Musical Aesthetic of the Variant. For example: "Information theory...interprets the aesthetic rule as a general 'optimization principle' according to which the sign structures used by artists depend on a favorable relationship between information and redundancy. The sign structures must contain a large amount of innovation and, at the same time, reduce the information to a comprehensible size. Decisive in this is the creative productivity which is explained as a process of chance. Basically all these views go back to ARISTOTLE who in his Poetics says: "Beautiful is the style which uses unfamiliar words with moderation; the use of nouns which everyone uses and the avoidance of metaphors, rare words, etc. result in the vulgar, while their immoderate use results in a puzzle or barbarism (jargon), and their improper use in the ridiculous. In the end, the correct mixture, the right measure, cannot be determined. As Kant observed, the rule according to which the 'product of genius' comes into being can 'not serve as a direction in a kind of formula; otherwise the judgment about what is beautiful would be determined by concepts.'  Differently expressed, a rule for the deviation from the norm would itself be a norm, and would therefore conflict with the aesthetic principle itself." (p. 134). This portion is followed by a simple clarifying diagram showing a triangular relationship between inspiration and tradition or rule, and deviations and innovation.
Similar nuggets of musical textual criticism and philosophy are found throughout the dense text of Music Philology, a rare gift to scholars and students of Western music criticism and analysis.
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Bruce MacIntyre, Translator: Bruce C. MacIntryre is Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College (CUNY) where he has taught music history, directed choruses, advised theses, served as deputy chairman since 1984, and as Conservatory director since 2006. He is also a member of the doctoral faculty at The Graduate Center of CUNY. His area of special expertise lies in Biennese choral and chamber music of the late eighteenth century. In addition to articles and reviews for Die Musikforschung, Notes, Singende Kirche, Music & Letters, Eighteenth-Century Music, et al., MacIntyre published Haydn: The Creation (New York, 1998) and The Viennese Concerted Mass of the Early Classic Period (Ann Arbor, 1986). He was also co-editor with Basrry S. Brook of Haydn's sting trios for Hoseph Haydn-Werke, (Reihe XI, 1&2) published by Henle. MacIntyre's articles on Mozart's Masses. Litanies, notets, offertories, smaller church works, as well as religion and liturgy appeared in Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia ed. Cliff Eisen (Cambridge, 200). He is currently completing his English translation of Georg Feder's Musikphilologie (Darmstadt, 1987) for Pendragon Press. He is a member of the Americal Musicological Society, the Society for Eighteeth-Century Music, the Mozart Society of America. The Haydn Society of North America, the Music Library Association, and the College Music Society.
Professor MacIntyre was raised in Johnstown, N.Y., completed his A.B. at Hamilton College, and completed graduate studies in musicology at S.U.N.Y./Stony Brook (M.A.), the University of Cologne, and The Graducate Center of C.U.N.Y. (Ph.D.).
Georg Feder: Georg Feder was born Nov. 30, 1927, in Bochum, Germany, and died on Dec. 11, 2006, in Cologne.
The following is a translation of Feder’s biography. in DAS HAYDN LEXIKON (Laaber Verlag, 2010; p. 221):
“One of the leading Haydn scholars of the 20th century, director for over three decades of the Joseph Haydn-Insitut and editor of the complete-works edition Joseph Haydn Werke, Georg Feder studied 1949-1955 in Tübingen, Göttingen, and Kiel, where he graduated in 1955 with a dissertation entitled “Bachs Werke in ihren Bearbeitungen” [Bach’s Works in Their Arrangements]. From 1957 onwards he worked at the Joseph Haydn-Institut [Cologne], whose direction he assumed in 1960, as successor to Jens Peter Larsen. In 1965 he initiated the monograph series Haydn-Studien. From 2000 onwards he was co-editor of the Eisenstädter Haydn-Berichte [Esienstadt Haydn Reports]. In 1988 he was granted the title of Professor, and in 2004 the Österreichische Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst Erster Klasse [Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class].
“54 volumes of the [Haydn] complete works appeared under Feder’s direction until 1990, eight of which he prepared himself as editor or co-editor [4 volumes of string quartets, 3 volumes of piano sonatas, 1 volume of masses]. In addition, among several other editions, Dr. Feder prepared an edition of Niccolò Piccinni’s La canterina, a parallel setting of Haydn’s opera of the same name. He published well over 100 articles on Haydn and on questions of music philology. The spectrum [of his studies] reaches from specialized scholarly studies to introductory monographs for a broader public, like those on Haydn’s string quartets (1998) and The Creation (1999).”