140 • Customer service

One has to wonder why publishers of Urtext editions, for example Henle, hired experts to provide fingerings when the composer's Urtext didn't include any.

Fingerings were (and should be) taught as principles, not isolated instructions, and composers only marked fingerings in their scores when there was an urgent reason i.e. a particular expressive articulation and/or an innovative pianistic idea. The fingerings of composers worked well for their hand on their instruments and need to be interpreted - like all musical notation - in context.

To answer the seemingly rhetorical question: Publishers hired experts to add fingerings to Urtext editions mostly as a form of customer service to increase sales volume (thus committing disservice to the very idea of Urtext). Unfortunately some of those experts were pianistic dilettantes and inadvertently did disservice to customers as well. The amount of damage done by philistrous fingerings - fingerings that for example don't consider the training of a pianist's hand and thus groups and clusters, but only consecutive finger positions - to innocent and uninformed students and amateurs is considerable. (I am talking to you, Hans-Martin Theopold!)

"To impose a fingering cannot logically adapt itself to the different formations of the hand. The absence of fingerings is an excellent exercise, it suppresses the spirit of contradiction which prompts us to prefer not to use the author's fingering, and verifies these everlasting words: 'One is never better served than by one's self'."
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

See: 72 • Fingering Principles


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