The six symphonies Op.4 were issued by the Parisian publisher La Chevardire in 1766 and are, as far as we know, the last of Beck's works in the genre. Surprisingly few copies of the works survive given Beck's contemporary reputation and the obvious importance of the set. Four copies of La Chevardire's 'Paris' print are extant and only one of the 'Bordeaux' issue, preserved in the collection of the Paris Conservatoire along with a pair of clarini parts in MS. La Chevardire also issued Op. 4 Nos 1-3 in Bordeaux of which a single exemplar survives. A manuscript copy of the complete set based, presumably on La Chevardire's print is preserved in the Narodn Muzeum, Prague under the shelfmarks XXII B9-B14 and a further three works from the set Op.4 Nos 1, 2 & 4 - in the University Library in Basle. All three copies are ex-Sarasin; the Sarasin catalogue also has entries for the remaining three symphonies. The Sarasin copy of Op.4 No.4 should be considered more properly as a corrupt variant of Op.2 No.1 as the first three movements are drawn from that symphony and only the finale from Op.4 No.4. This copy also includes a timpani part of very dubious authenticity.
This edition is based on a copy of the Parisian print issued by La Chevardire which is preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The title page reads: SIX / SINFONIES / a plusieurs Instruments. / Composes & Dedies / A / MONSEIGNEUR LE MARECHAL / DUC DE RICHELIEU / PAR / FRANCESCO BECK / Virtuoso di Camera di Sua A. S. L'Electer Palatino, / & Dissepolo d'Stamitz ... / OEUVRE IVe... The edition also carries a formal dedication to the Duc de Richelieu signed 'Le trs humble et tres / obeissant serviteur / BECK'. Unlike Beck's three previous sets of symphonies the Op.4 works were published without continuo figuring, an indication perhaps, that performance fashions were beginning to change since the works differ little orchestrally from the symphonies of Stamitz published - with detailed figuring - in the previous decade.
In the absence of both the autograph score and an authentic set of parts, the edition presents as faithfully as possible the intentions of the composer as transmitted in La Chevardire's print. The style and notation of articulation and dynamic markings have been standardised throughout and, where missing, markings have been reconstructed from parallel passages. These are indicated by the use of dotted slurs or brackets where appropriate. Like most eighteenthcentury sources, La Chevardire's print is inconsistent at times in its notation of appoggiature; these too have been standardised to minimise confusion. Obvious wrong notes have been corrected without comment; editorial emendations with no authority from the source are placed within brackets. Allan Badley