Publishers use a lot of words to describe what they sell, and we know it can be confusing. We've tried to be as clear as possible to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Below are descriptions of the terms that we use to describe the various formats that music often comes in.
Choral Score A score for vocalists that only contains the vocal lines. The instrumental parts are not there for reference. Generally, cheaper than a vocal score and requires multiple copies for purchase.
Facsimile of the Autograph These are hardcover, research-quality reproductions of the original hand-written scores from the composer.
Hardcover Some publishers print a hardbound, linen-covered version in addition to the standard paperback. The music inside is identical. These editions are beautiful though rarely cheap.
Orchestral Parts Similar to a wind set, this is a collection of parts. In the case of strings, the numbers listed are the number of copies included, though generally these are available individually (often with minimum quantities required).
Paperback When publishers offer multiple bindings (e.g. hardcover) or study scores, this is the "standard" version. If you're planning to play the music, this is probably what you want.
Performance / Playing Score For chamber pieces, playing scores have all of the parts on one system. There are not separate parts for each player.
Score (Full Score) For ensemble music, this indicates that the edition contains all parts on a single system (there are not separate parts for each player). In larger ensembles, this is for the conductor.
Set of Parts For ensemble music, this indicates that there are separate parts for each player.
Solo Part with Piano Reduction For solo pieces with orchestra, this is a version that contains a piano reduction of the orchestra parts. For piano pieces, two copies are typically needed for performance.
Study Score A small (think choral size) copy of the complete score meant for studying, and not playing. They make great add-ons when learning concertos and small chamber works.
VocalScore A score prepared for vocalists that includes the piano/organ part or a reduction of the instrumental parts.
Wind Set For orchestral music, this is a collection of wind and percussion parts. The specific quantities of each instrument are notated.
With Audio In addition to the printed music, the edition contains recordings of the pieces. This may be an included CD, or access to files on the internet.
With / Without Fingering (Markings) Some publishers prepare two copies - a pure Urtext edition that includes no fingering (or bowing) suggestions and a lightly edited version that includes a minimal number of editorial markings.
The year 1853 was of great importance to Johannes Brahms, on a personal and also on a professional level, for it was then that he first met Joseph Joachim, Robert and Clara Schumann, all three of whom, in their various ways, were to exercise an enormous influence on his life.
During that same year, Robert Schumann, his composition student Albert Dietrich as well as Brahms decided to compose a violin sonata as a joint venture and as a surprise gift for Joachim. Dietrich composed the first movement, Schumann the second and Brahms the third. The front page of the manuscript score was inscribed by Schumann with the title F.A.E., standing for Joachim's motto "Frei aber Einsam" (free but lonely). Brahms seems not to have considered publishing his Allegro movement, and had the autograph remained in his possession he would doubtlessly have destroyed it, like many other compositions. Finally, in 1906, Joachim allowed the Deutsche Brahms-Gesellschaft to publish the work.
An important part of this edition is the Preface. Firstly it informs about the work's origin and publication. Truly remarkable is the unique detailed Performance Practice Commentary. Here the editors start from the premise that already a few decades after Brahms' death, a widening gulf developed between the composer's expectations and the performance practices of the early 20th century. On the basis of manifold sources which include memoirs by pupils and chamber music partners, treatises and essays, early instructive editions and historical recordings, the editors deal with key issues in understanding Brahms' notation. By a section-by-section analysis of rhythm and timing, dynamics and accentuation, dots and strokes, slurring and non legato, piano pedalling and overholding, piano arpeggiation and dislocation, string instrument fingering, string instrument harmonics and vibrato, the editors provide an indispensable assistance for a historically informed interpretation of the work.