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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Part 3: Beethoven from the artist’s perspective

Starting from Beethoven Feature Films (1), then going to Beethoven Documentaries (2), we’ve now arrived at Beethoven From the Artist’s Perspective (3), the final part of my efforts at annotating comprehensively Beethoven Filmography. It is, after all, primarily the artists who are dealing lifelong with the music, the notes, but also with the Beethoven biography, to bring us closer to his music through their interpretations. Continue reading

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Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” sonata – The stony path to a reliable music text

Almost exactly 20 years ago – as I had just finished my editorial work on the Missa solemnis for the Complete Edition [GA] – the Beethoven-Haus approached me about whether I might be interested in co-editing the GA’s final piano-sonata volume. Besides the three late sonatas I was also offered the “Hammerklavier” sonata. Who wouldn’t want to seize the opportunity there! Continue reading

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“Beethoven Complete” – part 2: from the Old to the New Complete Edition

A few weeks ago my colleague Annette Oppermann reported on the start of Beethoven’s complete editions, or rather, on the numerous attempts to publish such – the most enterprising and successful being those of Tobias Haslinger (from 1828) and Franz Philipp Dunst (from 1829) that were begun immediately after Beethoven’s death. Following up on this, I would now like to report on ventures from the second half of the 19th century, concentrating in particular on the two most important of these editions known to the world as the “Alte Gesamtausgabe [Old Complete Edition]” (AGA, 1862–65) and “Neue Gesamtausgabe [New Complete Edition]” (NGA, since 1961). Continue reading

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Beethoven and the viola

Illustrations with kind permission by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn.

Piano concertos and sonatas, violin concerto and sonatas, cello sonatas – but where are the solo works for viola from Beethoven’s pen? Was the instrument too alien to him, wasn’t he aware of the viola’s special value and timbre? This certainly can’t be the case when we think of his unique string quartets and string trios. And the fact that Beethoven himself played the viola! It’s worth taking a closer look at the matter! Continue reading

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Beethoven in film Part 2: Beethoven docus

Many of the Beethoven feature films (1) accounted for in my previous blog post are available only on DVD, but not on YouTube for copyright reasons. This is not quite the way it is with cinematic Beethoven documentaries (2) today: All the films except two that I’ve identified and rated can be viewed in full, gratis: see the filmography’s YouTube link. Continue reading

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Beethoven’s “Diabelli” variations in a new guise

Beethoven and the variation – yes, I admit it: That’s no longer a new Henle blog topic. Already in January, my colleague Dominik Rahmer contributed a comprehensive overview of the Bonn birthday boy’s variation activity, introducing the variations to you, our reader community, and especially emphasising discoveries. I can’t come up with a discovery today, because I’m supposed to be going into the famous “Diabelli” Variations op. 120. Continue reading

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