Gaetano Donizetti's Eighteenth String Quartet


Maurizio Tomasi, zio_tom78 <at> hotmail <dot> com


2.0 of 2013/05/27

This is String Quartet nr. 18 by Gaetano Donizetti with some corrections of mine (Maurizio Tomasi). I added some missing articulations and correcting other subtle errors. A feature of this edition is the presence of the original autograph together with the edited score. In this way everybody can compare the derived version with the music the composer actually wrote.

The autograph edition can be downloaded from the following links:

The first edition of this score dates back to 2003. In 2013 Felix Janda performed a radical update of the score in order to make it compatible with the latest versions of Lilypond More information on the autograph score is available on its own information page.

The rules I followed in preparing this edition are listed here:

  1. Percent repeats and tremoli are always avoided: notes are fully written in the staves. It might be useful for those who study scores by playing them on the piano.

  2. Full measure rests are used when possible (e.g. fourth movement, bars 89-91).

  3. Tuplet numbers and cautionary accidentals are added to improve the readability of the text (note that the autograph does not use tuplet numbers at all, with the exception of the second movement, bars 112-114, Violin I part).

  4. Articulations and dynamics which are written once in the four staves are duplicated in the other three parts only when such a correction is obvious.

    Example: In the first movement, bar 90 has a crescendo in the first and the last staff which is obviously to be performed by the other two parts as well.

  5. Bars with wrong durations are always corrected. Of course these passages can sometimes be interpreted in more than one way, and some additional criterion must be taken into account.


    1. In the second movement, bar 70, cello plays a quarter note (Cis) which is obviously an eighth one (see bar 69). In this case no ambiguities arise.

    2. Bars 110-111 of the same movement raise a difficult question. Since Violin I was the only part with wrong durations, my first tought was to halve every note in the first staff. But it is clear that Violin I is playing here the same rythmic pattern seen in bars 106 ff., so it is better to keep Violin I unchanged and correct the other three staves.

  6. Dissonances that arise by probably misspelled alterations are corrected. No corrections are made in those cases where the dissonance could have some "raison d'??tre".

    Example: Fourth movement, bar 175, Violin I part. Here there is an Ais which is dissonant with the Viola part. Note however that Donizetti wrote the sharp sign before this A and he placed a natural sign before the A which follows shortly. In my opinion this is a strong evidence that Ais should be played here.

  7. Some passages sound uncertain but are harmonically correct. I chose not to change them, unless some precise evidence of a mistake could be found.


    1. In the first movement (bars 27-28) cello plays the sequence A-E-C (ignoring the grace notes), in contrast with the previous bars, where the last note is always equal to the first (also note that bars 21-22 have A-E-A). The C however avoids an unison between Viola and Cello and Violin I, so there is the doubt that the mistake -- if there is any mistake at all -- is in bar 22. Therefore I chose to left this passage unchanged.

    2. In the same movement (bar 132) Violin I plays a dorian scale. This is probably a mistake, since bar 129 has a similar passage with a melodic minor scale. Moreover, in the first half of the XIX century church modes were not widely used to my knowledge. In this case I turned G into Gis.

  8. The Trio (third movement) has a wrong repetition mark at its end, since the final closing repeat (bar 162) has no corresponding opening repeat. In bar 162 Violin I is playing a scale which leads naturally to Dis, so I chose to start it from bar 131. This solution has the advantage that the scale in bar 162 is matched by the scale in bar 132.

  9. The .ly source files have comments beginning with [E]. These comments indicate the passages I chose to correct. A [R] means that there is something doubtful there, but I did not correct it.

Maurizio Tomasi, July 2003. Revised on May 27th, 2013