Beethoven love letters? A contribution to perhaps his oeuvre’s smallest work group

In Beethoven’s just as extensive as impressive chamber music oeuvre, four pieces have for decades been vainly awaiting company in the Henle catalogue under the heading Mandolin and Piano. They occupy a special position in several respects, based, first of all, on their slightly exotic scoring, then, furthermore, in conjunction with the Prague Countess Josephine von Clary-Aldringen, one of the not so few women in Beethoven’s life with whom he was possibly associated, and not merely artistically. At the same time, these pieces, comprising just 16 score pages altogether, also combine a surprising number of interesting questions about matters of their history and editing that make taking a closer look at this fringe repertoire definitely worthwhile.

 

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Abandoned, alas! – Beethoven’s unfinished works

In the run-up to the Beethoven anniversary year, I kept getting enquiries from musicians looking for unknown Beethoven compositions, that is, rejected or fragmentary works to record or programme in concerts. Understandably so, for in 2020 they would want to explore the appeal of the “unknown Beethoven” in addition to the well-known core repertoire. The new Beethoven works’ catalogue has been an indispensable aid in answering such questions – which were often also about scoring and authenticity. Whereas the first volume of the catalogue is devoted to works with opus numbers, the second contains information on all compositions not assigned an opus number either during Beethoven’s lifetime or posthumously. This second volume is divided into works without opus numbers (WoO), unfinished works (Unv) and an appendix (Anh) with spurious or dubious works. Separate sections are furthermore devoted to Beethoven’s numerous plans for operas and oratorios. Continue reading

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Genuine Beethoven – or not quite? Questions of authenticity with Beethoven

The Beethoven Year is slowly coming to a close, almost everything has already been discussed on our editors’ blog, from Beethoven in films to his discovery of the trombone for the symphony. What hasn’t the man created, renewed, inspired…. High time for the question: Is everything attributed to Beethoven really genuinely Beethoven? Or more professionally formulated: Where are there doubts about the authenticity of works handed down under his name and how do we deal with these today? Continue reading

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Beethoven’s change of dedication – a small search for motives

George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1778–1860)

Last week I had the great pleasure of making the (virtual) acquaintance of Chi-chi Nwanoku, double bassist, teacher, founder of the Chineke Foundation and the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, advocate of multiculturalism. We talked about George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1778–1860) and the so-called “Kreutzer” sonata op. 47, originally dedicated to the violinist Bridgetower who came from a mixed-race family. Then instead, the dedication went to the violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766–1831), active in Paris. The special quality of this masterpiece probably called for a nickname, and so it became, without further ado, the “Kreutzer” sonata. Almost a century later, Tolstoy was ultimately to make this title permanent with his novella by the same name. In conversation with Chi-chi we philosophised about what would have happened in the music world if the dedication had after all gone to Bridgetower … Continue reading

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Beethoven – creator of concert overtures?

Illustration with kind permission by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn.

Beethoven as the great innovator of forms and genres generated by his predecessors – that has by now become indisputable common knowledge. And our Beethoven blog posts keep showing the numerous innovations, even in lesser-known detail, with major future potential. This most recently came to light in the post on the trombone, since Beethoven is regarded as the “founder of symphonic trombone scoring”.  Today’s topic goes another step further: Beethoven is mentioned not only as an innovator, but as actually the creator of a new genre type. The question mark in the title already indicates that the matter is not so simple as it initially seems. Continue reading

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Beethoven’s easy piano sonatas. BEETHOVEN’S EASY PIANO SONATAS???

The title for today’s blog post was so easy to write down from our large Beethoven blog-plan list, though whilst my fingers were still typing, my brain was switching on (perhaps a bit too tardily) and objecting: Beethoven’s easy piano sonatas? There aren’t any!  So, this could now be a very short blog post, but as you’ve already suspected – we never make it easy for ourselves…. Continue reading

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On the way to the Romantic orchestra – the trombone in Beethoven’s symphonies

Last May my colleague Norbert Gertsch dealt with Beethoven’s relationship to an instrument that’s not usually the centre of attention: in his case, this was the viola (read his blog post here). We will deal today with a perhaps even more “esoteric” instrument, namely, the trombone. Continue reading

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Summer Break

Summer is here and the Henle blog is saying “goodby” for a short summer break. But not to worry, it will pick up again on 31 August 2020 with more exciting Beethoven-Year blog posts.

Until then we wish you a lovely summer, despite coronavirus (COVID-19) – stay well!

G. Henle Verlag

 

 

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More than “Ode to Joy” – the whole range of Beethoven’s vocal work

Although the melody of the 9th Symphony’s choral movement, “Freude schöner Götterfunken” (Joy, beautiful spark of the gods), is most likely one of Beethoven’s best known tunes, it is the composer’s instrumental work that is primarily linked today to his popularity and musico-historical significance: The 32 piano sonatas as the “New Testament of piano music”, the 9 symphonies as the milestone in symphonic music, the string quartets as the epitome of Goethe’s idea of conversation amongst “four reasonable people”.  So far, so good, but as vocal music editor at Henle publishers, I naturally look at the matter somewhat differently – and with this post I’m inviting you to a little stroll through the whole range of Beethoven vocal works that we have ready for you here at Henle. Continue reading

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“The Hammerklavier Sonata opened the door for me” – Interview with Ian Fountain on Beethoven’s piano music

Ian Fountain

Today we’d like to continue our series of musicians’ views on Beethoven, begun in February, by interviewing the British pianist Ian Fountain. He is responsible for the fingerings in the Henle Urtext editions of Beethoven sonatas (HN 894) and variations (HN 913) for cello and piano, in collaboration with David Geringas who has done the cello markings – as demonstrated in the CD recording of Beethoven’s Sämtliche Werke für Cello und Klavier [Complete Works for Cello and Piano] (SWR Music/Hänssler Classic, 2011). Fountain will also continue to provide the fingerings in volume 2 of the revised edition of the Beethoven piano variations (HN 1269), which includes the Diabelli Variations op. 120 that he recorded in 1997 (CRD Records). Continue reading

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