Evaluating Scores


Submitted by: Reba Wissner

In a lesson on the Second Viennese School, you can use manuscripts and modern editions to teach students how to evaluate good scores using Webern’s Op. 10, no. 4. I gave them 2 manuscripts from the Morgan Library (the early version of 5 pages and the one that’s 6 measures) and 2 modern editions (all are here).

I had them work in pairs with hard copies in color and the online versions on the course website available for different student needs, and asked them to answer the following questions: 

  1. Which of the manuscripts came first? How can you tell? 
  2. What are the differences between them? 
  3. What are the differences between the modern editions? 
  4. Which manuscript score was used for the modern editions? 
  5. Looking at composer intention on the manuscript score, which is the most accurate according to what Webern intended? 

This exercise got them thinking about notation of harmonics, indications to mute, etc. It also got them thinking about what to do when a composer has multiple manuscript versions, sketches, or drafts available for a piece. We then discussed the different types of scores there are and how they would use them, and finally noted that if they need to choose a score but don’t know which one is the most faithful to what the composer intended, go to the manuscript (if it’s available or digitized) and see which is the right manuscript and if the score adheres to that or not.

  • Listing ID: 2708
  • Resource Type: Assignment
  • Audience: undergrad + grad
  • Century: 1900-1999 (20thC)

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