Editorial Work

For those interested in statistics there are a total of 286 solo songs with piano accompaniment in ‘The Ivor Gurney Collection’. Out of this number, 222 were composed between 1907 and 1922. Ninety songs have so far been commercially published, including Gurney’s 1925 song cycle ‘Light’s Out’. Therefore, excluding the ‘Light’s Out’ cycle, there are 123 solo songs by Gurney composed between 1907- 1922 that have not yet been published. To date, the Trust has been able to transcribe and edit some twenty-five of these ‘unpublished’ songs as ‘performing editions’ with more being added each year. In addition, some of Gurney’s instrumental music has also been transcribed and edited for performance. A full list of all these ‘performing editions’ can be obtained either from the Trust or from Gloucestershire Archives.

It has been asked, why it is necessary for the Trust to transcribe and edit the ‘unpublished’ music when the originals are in the Gloucester archive and could simply be photocopied and then performed? The Trust’s reasons for imposing such restrictions upon the ‘unpublished’ manuscripts are three-fold. Firstly, Gurney’s original manuscripts are becoming increasingly fragile and so less physical contact with them will help to preserve them for posterity. Secondly, Gurney’s handwriting is often difficult to decipher and therefore interpret correctly. This could produce incorrect readings of the music when performed. Thirdly, in some cases there are several versions of the same work. These versions can differ widely from one another, particularly in terms of their musical content and their notation. The Trust believes that Gurney’s music will be best served if there is a single unified ‘performing edition’ for each of the ‘unpublished’ works. These ‘performing editions’ would not replace the wish of any Gurney researcher to have access to the original manuscript. Nevertheless, it is hoped that these ‘performing editions’ will help to preserve the original manuscripts, whilst at the same time helping to reduce the burden upon those working in the archive.