About the conception
The Arnold Schönberg Complete Edition is dedicated to the task of making the compositional work of Arnold Schönberg accessible to the public in its entirety. The subject of the edition is therefore not only the works in the final version, but also the early versions and his own arrangements; not only the completed compositions, but also the unfinished ones; not only the final musical text of a work, but also all sketches and drafts.
The Complete Edition claims to be a scholarly edition and at the same time to serve musical practice. If the first claim results in the demand to record and critically evaluate the surviving source material as completely as possible, the second is to present the compositions in a form that is conducive to practical realisation. For this reason, the musical texts presented in the volumes of Series A are to be understood as the result of the critical revision, but not as the revision itself. The renunciation of graphic differentiation of editor's additions associated with this principle has a decisive advantage for musical practice in that the already exceedingly complex notation of Schönberg's scores is not overloaded by an additional layer. The volumes of Series B contain the Critical Reports. These consist of a description of the sources consulted, precise lists of readings and the text-critical notes as the actual revision report. Publication in a separate volume makes the revision report easier to handle and at the same time makes it clear that it is an integral part of the edition.
In addition to the critical reports, the volumes of Series B contain the sketches and drafts of the individual works in an arrangement corresponding to the course of the work. A complete and coherent annotated edition of the sketchbooks in the form of a comparison of facsimile and transmission is still pending and will also take into account the work-genetic aspect of this type of source. In addition, the B-volumes offer some detailed treatises on the history of the composition and the work as well as the most important letters and other documents that are important for an understanding of the respective composition. Finally, the volumes of the B series publish non-performable fragments as well as early versions and piano reductions by Schönberg himself. A generous facsimile of important sources serves the purpose of illustrating their peculiarities or also special problems of the edition or to be able to dispense with the cumbersome description of complicated matters.
The edition will be concluded with a comprehensive index of works, which is still to be compiled, and which at the same time represents a kind of register volume in that it will make its contents fully accessible or, in view of the complicated structure of the contents, which is often due to practical considerations, will make some of them usable in the first place.