"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy" – L.V. Beethoven
I used to work at the Music Special Collections at the HBLL library. While I was there I was able to work with first edition scores. This means that it is the first printed publication of a piece of music, or in book terms, the first edition. These are widely sought, analyzed, and sometimes performed by musicians because, in some scholarly opinions, the first edition represents the intent of the composer because it has not passed through other “editors” that throughout the years added markings, corrections, and other things to the first edition. As part of my previous job I helped organize the amazing Primrose International Viola Archives first edition collection. Within that collection there is a miniature score of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. As a clarinetist, this was an amazing find!
As a point of interest, if you ever have the chance to see a first edition score, look at it closely, you will notice a type of margin around the score. This is the mark of the printing press. Music, at that time, was first engraved onto a metal plate, after which, the plate was inked, the pages pressed, and the score published.
Here is a sample of what first edition scores look like. The first one is a sample of a Piano Sonata by Diabeli. The second, a song for solo voice with Piano accompaniment called “Robin Hood”.