The Reprint Rumor about orchestra parts.

Believe it or don't ....


From a conductor:

“Music publishers often INTENTIONALLY place a few 'errors' for copyright protection purposes so they know when some other publication containing their 'signature error' has illegally copied their work ...”


From Clinton F. Nieweg:

I would be interested in seeing an example of this rumor in different publications. With many years of experience proofing orchestra music I have not yet found this to be true, so with the help of orchestra librarians, conductors and publishers our thoughts have been archived in this letter.


The fallacious rumor that reprint houses deliberately “add a few easily correctable mistakes to their editions so that they can renew the copyright” has been around for as long as these houses have existed.  The music that Kalmus, Luck’s, Broude, and Dover print is exclusively in the public domain on unedited titles.  In-so-far as copyright is concerned, Kalmus does not claim copyrights for its reprints that are unedited.


The main reason for the printed errors in reprint house parts is that the original publishers (especially the French and Russian ones) produced engravings full of mistakes.  Kalmus simply reprints these engravings, with the mistakes, articulation, ornamentation, etc. as is.

While they do use the best copy that can be found, the fact remains that the reprint copy will only be as error-free as the plate from which it was created.  Thus it can be assumed for any Kalmus publication that unless the catalog lists an editor’s name, Kalmus has made no changes to the music.


The changes that Kalmus does make to various works are in the interest of improvement.  Editor-in-Chief Clark McAlister is heavily involved in the production of the Kalmus “Corrected Editions”, a process that is extremely expensive and time consuming. Original proofing to re-engraving to production can take up to four years for just one piece. (*Please note that not all Corrected Editions are Critical Editions: for a Critical Edition, the editor must have access to the facsimile of the composer’s manuscripts, or preferably, the original manuscripts.) 


In terms of specific publishers, Dover scores contain on the whole the greatest number of errors, as they are reprints of original uncorrected European publications.  Luck’s buys much of its music directly from Kalmus, and like its supplier, does some improvement to the parts.  Broude publishes its collection of titles on good paper, but the music is again often uncorrected unless improvements have been made.


Consequently, if Kalmus were to deliberately sabotage its own music, another reprint house could simply put out a better edition and make more sales.  It is in the best interest of all reprint houses to produce the best parts possible.


Many Kalmus titles have had the original publishers errors corrected and are the standard orchestra parts used by the Major Orchestras worldwide. Titles that are in the U. S. public domain can be found at  <>


Written by Clinton F. Nieweg with the advice of other librarians, conductors, performers and publishers.

Clinton F. Nieweg.

 (research for Librarians - Conductors - Performers).




MOLA (Major Orchestra Librarians' Association)

( for Librarians of major orchestra, band and opera organizations)


OLI (Orchestra Library Information) Yahoo group (for Librarians of regional, community and university orchestras).

(archiving information for orchestra librarians)         Consultant: League of American Orchestras; Librarian Discussion group, Conductors Discussion group and the Conductors Guild. Editor "Score & Parts" errata lists, Journal of the Conductors Guild.   On Jan 9, 2009 Mr Nieweg was the first performance librarian to be honored by the Conductors Guild