Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The original text, as of a musical score or a literary work.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A primitive, seminal, or prototypical example of an artistic genre or the basis of an ideological movement.
  • n. The original version of a piece of music, as created by the composer.

Etymologies

German : ur-, original; see Ursprache + Text, text (from Middle High German, from Late Latin textus); see text.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
ur- +‎ text (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Critics, meanwhile, judge performances by the degree of textual fidelity to the "urtext" -- a score that tries to reproduce the composer's original intent.

    What Music Has Lost

  • Mr. Orenstein's "Mother Goose" edition, a so-called urtext, will contain textual notes setting out the differences between the composer's manuscript and the existing Durand score to accompany the musicologist's corrected score.

    Four Lost Measures Found

  • Reading the French that I don't understand parts of, and the English that I don ‎ 't feel is quite right, has left me with the strange sensation that the book I'm actually reading is a third version, a sort of urtext, which is not written.

    Qwaider Planet

  • When Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd wrote the value-investing urtext, Security Analysis, in 1934, the rules were more hard-and-fast.

    What Would Warren Do?

  • Not only had Obama actually supplied the urtext of his campaign by writing "Dreams from My Father," the story of his antecedents and life, he also managed to turn his biracial origins into an advantage, offering himself, in Remnick's words, as "an embodiment of multi-ethnic inclusion when the country was becoming no longer white in its majority."

    David Remnick's 'The Bridge' Delves Deep Into Barack Obama's Presidency (New York Review)

  • The Treatise veers between the insecure pompousness and pompous insecurity of a man who dons bling on dirty fingers and then sets out to create the urtext of social seemliness.

    Caroline Hagood: Blast From the Past: Honoré de Balzac's New English Release, Treatise on Elegant Living

  • Even the learned, though I trust them on facts and on urtext (hoping that their own colleagues will have kept them in line about these things), I do not consider responsible as judges of content.

    Role Models

  • Olney's reply, handed down at the very dawn of Big Government, should be regarded as an urtext of the regulatory state:

    Obama and 'Regulatory Capture'

  • Time machines stayed in fashion through the atomic age, undergoing both design and thematic updates that often cast them as vehicles for cautionary tales of science gone awry: See Ray Bradbury's seminal short story A Sound of Thunder (the "butterfly effect" urtext) and the BBC's Doctor Who .

    Scott Brown Rails Against Machineless Time Travel

  • The urtext was important, but it was not the last word: The pianist's instinct for what the composer was trying to say carried considerable weight.

    What Music Has Lost

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Comments

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  • Some scholars believe Shakespeare's Hamlet was based upon an earlier text that has not survived, and refer to that work as Ur-Hamlet.

    September 16, 2009

  • Earliest version of a text; original unmodified version. (from Phrontistery)

    May 25, 2008