At the basis of the Edition’s conception lies the historic-encyclopedic principle, which assumes a close mutual connection among the most diverse sources, both of a creative and of a biographical character.

From the perspective of Cultural Studies, the Complete Works are regarded as a Reproduction of Monuments of the Art of Music, which determines the flexible combination of maximum accuracy and satisfactory transmission of the author’s texts with the possibility of their real use in present-day concert and performance practice.

As regards Scholarship and Methodology, the Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Sergei Rachmaninoff relies on the research methods developed in classical text criticism and historical criticism as a whole, and also on present-day theories of the artistic text, systems of signs, and hermeneutics. This approach applies to the publishing and text-critical interpretation of both sources using music notation and literary sources.

Any edition, whether it be stereotyped or developed along scholarly lines, is a publisher’s interpretation of a musical work, since the concept of an “Urtext” is a myth signifying the notion of an ideal text. In practice, the texts if a musical composition exist in such complicated inter-relationships that in preparing them for publication it is not usually possible to select the most authoritative one requiring no essential retouching or standardization whatsoever. Establishing a text demands serious substantiation, and often publishing compromises determined by the historically shaped aesthetic of the printed text itself. At a certain stage in work on manuscript sources the creative intuition of the text scholar/editor objectively moves into the foreground, and in many respects determines the final version: the existence of variant readings, at times very significant ones, in printed texts with scholarly attributes of the very same compositions, even though they have been prepared using a single scholarly method, by different researchers, is genuine corroboration of the fact.

The concept of a publishing interpretation introduced in the present Edition gives rise to the phenomenological method in studying the texts of compositions by Sergei Rachmaninoff, which corresponds to the real practice of their existence in sources which have been preserved.

The composer’s legacy is examined within the framework of the triad which is found in musical practice: “composer – performer – listener”, which in many ways determines the historical and encyclopedic character of the Edition.

The edition is intended for musicians of several professional orientations — performers, composers and musicologists and thus pursues the goal of presenting and commenting upon the texts of Rachmaninoff’s works from several research perspectives.

The founding principles of the Edition stipulate the maximum completeness in making use of all known texts and sources which may be of interest in one way or another to different specialists. The concepts of avant-text, denoting the preliminary materials (sketches) and intertext, which presupposes the examination of Rachmaninoff’s creative legacy as a phenomenon in universal musical culture, are employed.

A clear distinction is made in the Edition between the concepts Work – Text – Source. A work, as one of the historically shaped forms of an artistic text in its philosophical/symbolical and aesthetic understanding, appears in reality in a multiplicity of texts recorded in one source or another. In turn, the very same source is often the bearer of various texts — in those cases where the initial text has been subjected to authorial emendation after being completed. The practice of the real existence of a work leads to a differentiated examination of mutually dependent but at the same time dissimilar phenomena — texts and their material carriers — sources. A system of this kind reflects the distinction in logic, meaning and content between the concepts — Work – Text – Source, and on the other hand — their close interconnection. It allows one to reduce to a single system both archaeographical (including archival – conservationist) parameters in describing a collection of sources and the strictly textological, envisaging the study of complex and ramified questions of the coming-into-being, the recording and the practical existence of texts of compositions. At the same time the essential basis of information and analysis is created for a well-founded interpretation in scholarship, publishing and performance.

Problematic topics which arise in the course of preparing the volumes for publication are illuminated in periodical scholarly symposia accompanying the Critical Edition. A range of problems concerning textual criticism and the study of publishing, information, and source matters affecting the legacy of Sergei Rachmaninoff are being worked out.