Facsimiles: What are these?
Definitions and terminology
- A facsimile, as defined by Laurie Sampsel in Music Research: A Handbook, 3th ed. (p. 278) is “an exact copy of the original” or “Facsimile edition: reproduction of an older work that is designed to be an exact copy of the original.”
- A facsimile is an exact copy of an original manuscript or a very early edition. If a facsimile edition exists for the piece you’re interested in - which is not always the case - it’s helpful to look at it because you can see exactly what the composer wrote on the page.
- A drawback of using facsimiles: It can be hard to read handwritten documents, so these may not be the best editions to cite in a research paper (unless the topic of the paper is the composer’s manuscript!).
What do facsimiles look like?
Example of a facsimile:
Liszt, Franz. Klaviersonate H-moll: Faksimile nach dem Autograph im Besitz von Robert Owen Lehman Depositum in der Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. With a forward by Claudio Arrau and an introduction by Mária Eckhardt. Munich: G. Henle Verlag, 2015.
Tips for finding facsimiles
- These items are shelved in the ML96, ML96.4, ML96.5 sections (remember: ML = books, not scores!) because technically, they’re books - their intention is to help with study of the sources not performance (but they’re still helpful for performers to look at to understand a composer’s intentions! Check out these call number ranges to browse..
- Though ,any facsimile score publications are shelved together in the ML96-ML96.5 section of the score collections, scores that include facsimiles (most commonly as images in their introductory material) are scattered throughout the score collections.
- Look for the subject "Music -- Manuscripts -- Facsimiles" and the name of a piece, a library, or a place as a keyword (British Library, Munich, etc.) in catalog records as you explore the Music Library's score holdings.
Try searching by publisher name: Some major publishers of facsimiles are Editions Minkoff, Fuzeau, Broude Brothers Performers’ Facsimiles
Searching for facsimiles of published materials (first editions, etc.)? Try a composer/title search and look for a note in the catalog record about the item being a reprint of the first edition; try a keyword search for the printer’s name (e.g. Petrucci and facsimile)
Try the German spelling of facsimile (“faksimile”) when starting your search, too!