Beethoven Sketch Books by By J. S. Shedlock, B.A. On Musical Time (1892 – 1895)

IV) – MUSICAL TIME September 1, 1892



(Continued from p. 463.)


Among the works composed by Beethoven during his first years in Vienna (1792-5) were the two Piano- forte Concertos in C and B flat (Op. 15 and Op. 19); and from a letter addressed by the composer to Breitkopf and Härtel (April 22, 1801) we learn that the second of the two was written first. Beethoven speaks of the B flat Concerto as “one of my first Concertos ” (“eines von meinen ersten Konzerten”). He had, as a matter of fact, composed at least one work of that kind in Bonn. One is mentioned by Thayer (Vol. I., p. 128) as having been written in 1784; and an old sketch of an Adagio in D for a Concerto in A has already been published in these columns. On sheets (64 and 65) is to be found a long sketch of the Rondo theme of the B flat Concerto. It commences—

with the up-beat, thus differing from the printed version. A trace of this original form may be seen in the score (B. and H., p. 47)—

This very passage is in the sketch under notice. The phrase in G minor commences also in similar fashion—

The following gives one some idea of the master’s gradual evolution of themes. In the published score (transition passage to the dominant key) we find—

but in sketch book we first meet with —

The above, of course, should be read in the treble clef. On another sheet there are farther sketches for the Finale. The theme in the dominant key appears thus—

There are also some sketches of the 1st movement. It is, for instance, interesting to compare—

of the published score, with sketch—

The same sheet contains long sketches of the slow movement of this Concerto. While at work on this Rondo Beethoven was sketching the three movements of the Pianoforte Sonata in E (Op. 14, No. 1; not published, however, until the end of 1799). On the page before the beginning of the Rondo sketch, we find—

which may be the germ whence sprang the middle movement (Allegretto) of that Sonata. It is followed immediately by the lovely bit of phrase (most pro­bably in the key of D)—

Other sketches have been noticed in connection with the Sonata itself (see Musical Times for August). On page 89 of the Notirungsbuch there are a few bars written out in score; it is the return to the principal theme of the first movement of the Concerto, but differs from the printed version. On the next page there are some jottings down, possibly for a Cadenza. The following sketch is interesting—

On the same sheet we meet with­er –

which is (he familiar figure of the opening Allegro of the C major Concerto. The following may very possibly refer to the passage leading to the return of the principal theme in the same movement—

Now with regard to the two Pianoforte Concertos in C and B flat, there is some doubt as to the period of their composition and of their completion. Thayer (L. von Beethoven’s “ Leben,” Vol. I., p. 294) tells us that the one in C was played by the composer at a Concert given in the Burgtheater on March 29, 1795, and Sir George Grove quotes that statement of  Thayer’s in his article “ Beethoven,” in the “ Dic­tionary of Music and Musicians.” G. Nottebohm, on C the other hand, in his Zweite Beethoveniana, stated as his opinion that the Concerto performed on that occasion was the one in B flat, and adds that there is no proof that the one in C was ready by that date. Our sketch book just throws a little fresh light on this matter. On the first page of sheet 97-98 we have—

a sketch for the Finale with the later (commencing on the down beat) form of the principal theme. Again this later form is shown in—

written lower down on the same page. Now at the top of the next page stands —

which is surely an early sketch of the principal theme of the opening movement of the Concerto in C; and then follows a sketch marked 2ien Theil in Es, which bears a resemblance to the E flat section of the same movement. This would certainly seem to show that when the Concerto in B flat was well advanced, the principal theme of the one in C was, as yet, in undetermined shape. There are many other sketches on this sheet, and, so far as some of them can be made out, they seem to refer to an eary period. Does not this –

recall another early sketch (mentioned in first article on the Trios) connected with the Finale of the Tno in G (Op . 1, No. 2) ? And this—

the Andante theme in the Serenade (Op. 8) ? Again, on November 22, 1795, “Zwolf Deutsche Tanze, by Beethoven, were performed in the Redoutensaal, Vienna, at a ball given by the Gesellschaft der bildenden Künstler. Now, on the first page of sheet 72 there is a long and interesting sketch of the whole of the Coda to these dances—

This sketch agrees exactly with the printed version, and most probably the dances were sketched and completed not lone before their production. And on the other side of the page we meet with—

which recalls the opening-of Cadenza (No. 1) written by Beethoven for his Concerto in C, while the following—

is the well-known phrase from the first movement of the same. It almost seems as if Beethoven were still at work at the Concertolate in 1795, and as if Nottebohm were correct in his supposition. The two Concertos in C and B flat were not pub­lished until the year 1801—the former in the spring, the latter towards the close of that year. On sheet 113 there is a long sketch.of the Allegro of the C major Concerto; it covers the whole of the first page. On the other side we find—

the theme of the Largo, butin a different key and time (3/4 instead of common time).

Of the Concerto in C minor there are three sketches. One—

for the first movement, and

one of the Rondo, which, the first two notes exceptedt differs entirely from the printed version. No. 3 is apparently for the Cadenza

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