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I have the Jan Ekier National Edition of Chopin's Nocturne Op.55 No.1 (first image). The second image is from a video (said to be from IMSLP). I have two questions:

  1. The Ab and the G# in Measure 71 (circled) are the same key, right? Why notate differently?
  2. The score in the second image explicitly separates the left and right hands according to how one would play it, but the one in the first image is how it's supposed to be, musically speaking? (The fingering was confusing to me at first while watching some videos before I saw the second score.)

Two different editions of Chopin’s Nocturne, Op.55, No.1. from of measure 71.  The Jan Ekier National Edition denotes the middle voice in the lower staff, whereas the IMSLP edition has then middle voice in the upper staff.  The third beat in measure 71 has an A-flat and the fourth beat has a G-sharp (circled).

1 Answer 1

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  1. The Ab is used because the harmony at that moment is Bb7 (Bb-D-F-Ab); whereas, the G# is used because the harmony at that moment is E7 (E-G#-B-D).

    • The lower score is emphasizing execution over (harmonic) structure, while the upper score is emphasizing harmonic structure over execution.
    • The sources for op. 55, no. 1, m. 71 can be seen at the Online Chopin Variorum Edition. In every case, in particular the autographs, the middle voice is notated in the left-hand staff.
    • The upper score is endeavoring to match the original sources. However, the lower score is interpretive. It appears to be the edition edited by Karl Klindworth.
    • IMO, the difference in placement of the chords does not affect the interpretation. In fact, looking over the autographs, it may well be that it was just easier for Chopin to write it that way, avoiding ledger lines and making it easier to place the crescendo mark. It also could reflect his thought process in writing the melody and harmony separately, even if he always intended it to be played as shown by Klindworth. The E7 chord played across the bar line, in particular, would be impossible to play one-handed.
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