Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ultimate Urtext Sale

When wandering the book section this afternoon in the Burlington Costco, I happened upon a sight completely unexpected for such a store: music scores. Not just any old scores, but Urtext editions [wiki] by Koenemann Music Budapest. And at a price that I was astonished to behold: $3.99 each ($1 CDN equals approximately 89 cents US). These are the scores I bought:

Bach WTC I
Bach English Suites
Chopin Etudes
Grieg Lyrische Stuecke I
Grieg Lyrische Stuecke II

There were also the Bach French Suites (got it in Henle), a Schumann collection (ditto), and a Mussorgsky collection (should have bought it). These editions might not be the real thing for the Baerenreiter/Peters/Henle/Weiner crowd, but from what I've seen so far, they hold up pretty well in comparison. Looking at the books stacked in piles several feet high in no recognizable order, I couldn't help but reminisce about scores that belonged to my teachers and older colleagues purchased in the 60's and 70's with $3 and $4 price tags still affixed. (A friendly cashier, upon my asking about why the prices were so insanely low, chalked it up to an astute buyer.)

Anyway folks, these books won't last for long. I have no idea which Costco locations in the Toronto area are carrying the Koenemann Urtexts, but it is a deal not to be missed. And with the stamp of Urtext authenticity, correctly executing those articulation markings and exact beginnings and endings of crescendi and rallentandi will mean that performers will impress the Urtext police, who are said to inhabit the auditoriums of major cities across Europe and North America, judging concerts solely on the basis of just how accurate and faithful the performers play according to the original intentions of the composer....


  1. Anonymous8:22 PM

    I was just trying to find the critical notes that belong to the books you so happened to mention. Like yourself I too was astonished when I was browsing through the book section in the Point-Claire Costco in Montreal. I thought that since it was Urtext I couldn't go wrong, especially with a price like that. I am currently studying classical piano at Vanier College and I may be heading to Ontario for University. Any advice?
    Rebecca Stewart

  2. Rebecca, Konemann editions are bare-bones Urtexts: no critical notes, no fingerings. Career-wise Baerenreiter or Henle are still better but Konemann offers a well laid-out edition for the price of a latte.

  3. Anonymous11:25 AM

    I also found these terrific editions in Costco in Halifax, and bought Musorgsky, Grieg, Debussy. On the
    last page they say that the Critical Notes which belong to these editions can be found at, but no such website seems to exist. If anyone can find these notes, please let us know!
    John Plant, Head of Jeddore, N.S.

  4. John, my understanding was that Koenemann went out of business and that Costco bought out a massive amount of their scores to sell in some of their stores.

    They're great scores, but if you're looking for extra commentary, you're better off with Henle or Wiener Urtext.