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The Online Chopin Variorum Edition provides digital images of the manuscripts and first editions of select works by the Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. It facilitates and enhances comparative analysis of these primary sources, attaining a degree of flexibility beyond that of extant printed editions of Chopin’s music and indeed of any composer to date. Users are guided in their consultation of the sources by the background information and sample ‘critical commentaries’ provided by the project team. The end result is a new type of ‘musical edition’, one that users themselves construct dynamically and interactively. OCVE has exploited emerging technical capacities for text/image comparison as well as recent musicological advances. It is one of three projects featured in the Chopin Online resource.

The project as a whole has addressed four key research questions:

  • What is a musical ‘work’, and how is the ‘work concept’ that has prevailed since the mid-nineteenth century challenged by the Chopin sources?
  • What is the best means of capturing in an edition the creative history implicit in the sources, ranging from the earliest sketches through to the last impressions of the first editions and beyond?
  • How can the intellectual and logistical difficulties routinely experienced by editors in handling disparate source materials be overcome by means of technological support?
  • In what ways might technology change the mode of presenting information previously contained within – or, conversely, uncontainable within – printed editions? Moreover, how might technology fundamentally alter the musician’s and the musicologist’s understanding of individual sources, their often complex interrelationships, and their significance as artistic and cultural artifacts within a rich history of publication, pedagogy, and performance?


About OCVE

Project website

Project team
University of Cambridge
Professor John Rink, Principal Investigator
Dr Christophe Grabowski, Senior Research Associate
Dr Jonathan Clinch, Research Associate
Mrs Sarah Williams, Programme Manager

King’s Digital Laboratory, King’s College London
Miguel Vieira, Project Manager
Elliott Hall, Research Developer
Ginestra Ferraro, User Interface/User Experience Designer

Research phases
2003–2004: Pilot Phase
2005–2009: Developmental Phase 1
2011–2015: Developmental Phase 2
2015–2017: Developmental Phase 3

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Technical partners at King’s College London:
Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH)
Department of Digital Humanities (DDH)
King’s Digital Laboratory (KDL)

DH themes
Digital Editions, Digital Musicology