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

V) – MUSICAL TIME October 1, 1892


By J. S. Shedlock, B.A.

(Continued from p. 525.)


Many connecting links have from time to time been shown by Mr. E. Dannreuther said others between the various movements of certain of Beethoven’s pianoforte sonatas. How far they were conscious, how far unconscious workings of genius will probably for ever remain a mystery; the process was undoubtedly a compound one. There is a page in our Notirungsbuch which sets one meditating on this problem. This page (50) is full of brief sketches, and Beethoven seems as if he were trying to present one thought in various shapes. We have—

and then immediately after—

and again lower down oh the page—

both of which metamorphoses may have been work­ings of the intellect. But just above the first of these three quotations we find the opening of the “Nel cor più”  theme—

The similarity of figure will not escape notice. Reducing the last to its simplest expression, and comparing it with the first of tha above three we have –

The interval from the first to the second note is different, key and measure are so also, but there is a likeness between the two, and this may well have shaped itself unconsciously. Certain figures, indeed, in other writers besides Beethoven seem to have become, as it were, part of the stock in art of the composer. Let us name only one—the little turn to be found in Wagner from the Ricnzi Prayer to the Brunnhilde theme in the “ Ring des Nibelungen.” In Beethoven this often happens. Thus in the very case before us, of the two figures—

the first reminds us of the opening theme, and still more of a subsequent passage in the Finale of the Sonata, Op. 27, No. 1 while the second recalls a long sketch in our Notirungsbuch of some unfinished piece; it begins thus—

Judging from many places in the Notirungsbuch Beethoven was fond of jdtting down ideas in sequential form. Thus, to pick a few instances out of many, we have—

and –

and –

and –

which would make a capital technical “Rosalia*’ study. Quite a little series of similar studies might indeed be culled from our Notirungsbuch* Nottebohm (Zweite Beethoveniana, ch. 37) has quoted many. Two more are added here—

and –

The signature of the last .quotation ought probably to be that of the key of F, changing at the sixth bar, as marked by Beethoven* to that of F minor; in bars eight and nine the bass wants a G flat in each second group—at any rate, in the second. There is a sketch of a piece, possibly for pianoforte alone, which occupies two whole pages of the Notirungsbuch, and from this one is tempted to select two passages. But it will first be necessary to quote the opening bar of the piece to show the thematic character of the music—

The first passage, apparently the beginning of the coda, runs thus-

The augmentation is truly characteristic of Beethoven. The piece concludes with the following lively bars—

And here we have one more proof of the composer’s Alpha-Omega mode of sketching. The opening bars of the piece seem complete, and so—with the excep­tion, perhaps, of bar 4—do the above, but the middle of the sketch shows many a gap. The song “ Im Arm der Liebe” (Op. 52, No. 3) offers another and interesting illustration of Beethoven’s art of writing out, as it were, from some inward vision. The following sketch, if compared with the printed version—

shows differences; but they are in detail, not in outline. Over the last bar but one there is a mark pointing to –

lower down on the same page. Now the printed version has—

The intention was vague, but it was a low note of some kind. Beethoven first writes g, then f, and, lastly, d : the mental neume pointed downwards, but the exact pitch was only found by experiment. The attention which Beethoven devoted to this small composition deserves attention; in another place of our Notirungsbuch a few bars of the same song are to be found. We will mention lastly the sketches of a first move­ment of a Symphony in C at which, according to Nottebohm, Beethoven worked before the published one in C (Op. 21). Nottebohm (Zweite Beethoveniana, p. 228) mentions these sketches and gives two short quotations. He also speaks of one of them in his edition of “ Beethoven’s Studien,” though he describes it there as the opening of the Finale of Op. 21, which he tells us is to be found after a Fugue in the 12th. In the “ Zweite Beethoveniana” he mentions this as an error on his part. The sketch commences thus—

Now in our Notirungsbuch (p.56b) we come across –

not a fugue, but an attempt at canonic imitation in the 12th, with inversion of the same in the- ioth. There are other workings of the above-quoted theme on the first p.age of same sheet. Much later in the book, but on similar music paper, we have more sketches of this movement. In the article on the Pianoforte Sonatas we gave an example of the widen­ing out of a theme. Here is another—

Of course, the resemblance of the theme to that p the Finale of Op. 21 scarcely needs pointing outf but in a long sketch of the unfinished Finale we have—

which, in rhythm, recalls a passage near the double bars of this Op. 21 Finale. It is curious to note that while sketching this unfinished Symphony movement he was most probably at the Pianoforte Concerto in C, which also has a similar run—

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