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

IX) – MUSICAL TIME January 1, 1893

BEETHOVEN’S SKETCH BOOKS.

By J. S. Shedlock, B.A.

THE BIRTH OF A SYMPHONY.

(Concluded from p. 717)

The Berlin Library sketches of the Pastoral Symphony were probably made in 1807: the Museum book bears  the date 1808. Musicians are now familiar with the fact- that Beethoven worked by a slow and apparently almost painful process, and that, although a general likeness may be traced there is almost always a marked difference between the first and the final presentations of a thought or the development of the same Beethoven in his sketch books mixes up not only various works which were occupying his mind at one and the same time, but writes down ideas which must have suddenly occurred to him, and, of many of which he made no further use. Now the Museum book is of special interest in that the composer seems to have had his mind almost entirely absorbed with the ‘Pastoral Symphony. We say “almost,” for on one page we meet with a sketch for the first movement.of the Sonata for pianoforte and violoncello (Op. 69). And again, towards the end of the Volume (which, by the way, consists of sixty half sheets, with sixteen staves to the page), the “Storm” sketches are interrupted once by workings for the B flat Trio (Op. 70, No. 2). The volume contains also sketches for the Trio in D (Op. 70, No. 1), but these do not come between Pastoral sketches, for the volume concludes with them. We are not now concerned with the Trio sketches, but cannot help noticing the family likeness between the opening theme of the Symphony, and that of the Finale of the Trio in D —           –

The very first sketch in the book shews that the consecutive fifths between the eleventh and twelfth bars of the opening Allegro of the Symphony were the result of second thoughts ; the violin, and violoncello parts of ban 9-12. are written down, but there are. scratchings out in the twelfth bar, and the first violin note was originally c. On this page is written:

Man überlasst es dem Zuhörer sich selbst die Situationen aufzufinden. (The hearer is left to discoter the situations for himself.)

This sentence has been quoted before, but we are not aware that the exact place in which it occurs has been mentioned. It stands here at the head of the— Pastoral sketches. Schumann tells, us in one of his letters that he generally wrote his’ music, and then added a superscription. Beethoven here’ starts with a definite programme.scheme in his mind. In addition to the’.sentence he writes lower down on the same page:.

Sinfonie caracteristica oder Erinnerungen an das Landleben. (Characteristic Symphony, or reminiscences of country life.)

Here is possibly the first form of the long dominant passage –

Here is possibly the first form of the long dominant passage—

The difference is a small one, but none the less important. Any differences, merely assuch, would have no interest or importance, but here, and in many other places, the composer only gives new and more unished shape to the same idea, just as nature transforms the embryo in to the new-born babe; in both cases it is a process of evolution, not of arbitrary change. Of course Beethoven sometimes made experiments, and nothing came of them; for instance, towards the close of the exposition he tried “ Echo ” effects, but without result. The seventeen pages of sketches for the first movement show that Beethoven was not afraid of spoiling inspiration by working at his thematic material. Many examples have been given in these articles of the various stages through which Beethoven’s themes passed before they arrived at maturity, but we mast venture to add one more. The Andante sketches commence with –

The bass indication is of interest : Beethoven seems to have felt that the, accompaniment was, to be a moving one. Then we have—

and lower down on the page—

Later on we find phrases, such as the beautiful one—

which seem to have been born, as it were, note by note, for the‘sketches are all filled with scratching out and re-writing of notes. Last month we spoke about “ hints as to the. connection of the various movements,” and now we approach that subject, but not Without a certain fear and trepidation. There are many things which one feels to be true, and yet the moment an attempt to  describe thoge feelings, in words, everything seems to become vague and uncertain. If my readers are anxious to discover whether . Beethoven intended the movements of his Symphony to beparts oi a whole— members of one organism —then they will gladly catch at any clue which may help them in forming an opinion. But if they will not read  between the lines, and will only accept evidence which will bear cross-examination— visible, signs—then they had better skip over this paragraph, for it is  scarcely more than tentative. The first hint that we perceive is the appearance, of sketches for a third movement and a return to workings for the first movement, right in the middle of the Andante sketches. Does that not seem to show some connection of ideas ? (By the way,the  thunder of the storm)—

appears at the top of one page. A proposed “Siciliano” –

in, which we trace a germ of the third movement, seems as if it were a distant relation of—

Of course, one might easily become fanciful, and in every group of notes see some intention. But in two places uv this sketch-book Beethoven has not only altered a theme—in the one case by double augmenta­tion so that it would be scarcely recognised again, and in the other by change of rhythm— but in both casetf has placed the two forms side by side, showing that he was consciously working by metamorphosis. Here are the two-

We imagine that only few, in listening to the lovely oboe minim notes at the end of the storm movement, have traced their origin to the opening of the storm theme. In the matter of connection we would ask our readers to compare that oboe passage with the phrase from the third movement (See Ex. 17). On one page the cuckoo, notes seem to be indicated, but later on there are several “Ende” sketches, yet no sigh; of the birds. Here is one —

Here is a characteristic sketch for the third ment—

and here an early form of a well-known phrase—

The following shows that Beethoven evidently wished the small notes (of printed score) to commence on the beat—

All the “Storm” sketches, and there are many of them, are exceedingly interesting. One gives nearly eighty bars of the movement from the commence­ment. The following presents a very good idea of a Beethoven sketch .(see bars 49-37 of “ Storm” movement, counting backwards from the end) –

*The Allegro non troppo in the “Prometheus” music, after the Overture, is at?elf a very earty and very interesting ” Sketch ” of the ” Pastorale ’’ Storm. This has been pointed ont by Sir G. Grove in the Beethoven article in his Dictionary of Music and Musician.

The g  flat of the sketch, in place of the lets correct f sharp of the score, will not escape notice. The  opening bars of the Finale theme are as follows—

The rhythmical alteration (in printed score) of the fourth oar shows a later stage of development. Here too is a characteristic sketch (in pencil)—

The passage in the score to vthich it refers runs thus—

The last sketch in our book refers to the Coda –

Here, for the present, we bring these articles to a close.

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