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

XII) – MUSICAL TIME September 1, 1894


By J. S. Shedlock, B.A. second series (continued).


Sketches of the early Pianoforte sonatas (Op. 2, Nos. 1, 2, and 3) are scarce. Here is one from the development section of the opening movement of the Sonata in A (No. 2):—

Among sketches for the Sonata in B flat [Op. 22) we meet with the following passage from the Rondo—

The composer had not yet hit on the happy expedient of commencing the counterpoint to the bass motive on the second quaver of the bar. Again, with regard to the theme of the Variations in the A flat Sonata (Op. 26), Nottebohm in a sketch (” Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 237) shows us that the middle section of the theme was at first very different. But more than this can be said; for when Beethoven tried again he only got half way towards the finished form. He wrote, it is true—

but followed by-

which is tame and monotonous as compared with the published version. – Here is a sketch for the opening of the first movement of the Sonata in E (Op. 109)—:

but soon afterwards, on the same page, comes –

as in the published version, except for the crotchet stams. Then we have one the Adagio espressivo—

Let us now turn to some interesting sketches of several of the Diabelli Variations (Op. 120), none of which have been given fey Nottebohm. If the Breitkopf and Härtel edition be compared with the Peters, it will be found that in the second part of  Var. 12 the former has one bar less than the latter, in which

is omitted. Now a sketch of this variation differs considerably from the printed version, and cannot therefore be strictly compared. It is, however, curious to note that in the sketch the second part commences directly with—

In –

the passage is terser, bolder than in the printed version. The sketch of Var. 14 commences thus –

which, with its closer drawing, together of the motive in the second bar, is thoroughly Beethovenish. In the following sketch of the last four bars Var. 16 –

we see how carefully the composer laid the harmonic structure on which he built his figuration. And in tfre following—

we have a most remarkable sketch of Var. 20, remarkable alike in its differences from and likenesses to the printed version. By the way, do not the first bars recall the opening of the Arietta of the Pianoforte Sonata in C minor (Op. 111)? Beethoven had both these works in hand at the same time. On a loose sheet in the Berlin Library we find –


These are passages from the Pianoforte Concerto in G; the first will be found on p. 47 of the B. and H. score, the second on p. 43, and the last on p. 14. Genius has been named the art of taking pains, and here we find Beethoven carefully fingering special bars; and the fingering itself is of no ordinary kind. The note to the second example remarks that the thumb (curiously marked in the examples by a 1 with a dot over it) or first finger is to be immediately passed under. He means under the other fingers, so as to be ready for the d at the end of the bar. In “Ein Skizzenbuch von Beethoven,” of Nottebohm, there is a long sketch of the Finale of the Symphony in D, and in his “Zweite Beethoveniana”  pp. 244 and 245, there is another of the first movement. The two following, however, the one (a) of the third movement, the other (6) of the Finale, are new, and, apparently, earlier than the above- mentioned—

In a Sketch Book (Q. 38) we find two passages belonging to the ‘first movement of the C minor Symphony. Beethoven writes in pencil—

and then underneath in ink –

which should be compared with the corresponding passage in the Symphony (B. and H. score, p. 6). Beethoven never seemed to get at once what he wanted. Patientid vinces must have been his motto. Here are two attractive sketches from another book (W. 30); one of the Scherzo, which should be compared-with-No. 4, on p. 63 of Nottebohm’s “Beethoveniana” —

and the other of the Finale, and, apparently, very early one—

On a loose sheet we have a sketch of the close of the slow movement of the C minor Symphony, beginning—

the lower part evidently to be read in the bass, the upper one in the treble clef. Then comes a long sketch of the Scherzo, beginning—

On the next page, however, we find the following extraordinary version in big notes, and written with the master’s special (red) pencil—

and father on –

the ending of the movement as originally planned. Of the so-called* second and third ” Leonore” Overtures only few sketches exist. Of the former Nottebohm gives five (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” pp. 453 and. 459). To these we are able to add a few more from a Sketch Book in the Berlin Library. The first refers to the opening Adagio—

It ends with the opening of Florestan’s air. This theme is common to the secondjand third Overtures: thfere are, however, slight differences, and from thenl we are able to decide that this and, most probably, the sketches which follow on without interruption refer to No. 2. The series of dotted minims which precede the Florestan theme seem to refer to the bass of the passage which immediately follows this theme in the published version. Then we have an attempt at the principal theme of the Allegro –

This certainly recalls –

in the Coda of No. 3; but here it seems a first idea, for the theme now gradually takes shape. Lower down, and written in very clear notes in pencil, comes—

The Overture published after Beethoven’s death ss Op. 138 was supposed to hare been written for Prague in 1807 or 1808, and, in this case, the above would really be the first and second. It mast, however, be remembered that Schindler states that the one published aa Op. 138 was really written first, and set aside as not being of sufficient import ance. Otto Jahn, too, in the preface to his vocal score of the opers “Leonore,” tn its first and second versions, considers that there is no true foundation for Seyfried’s statement that it was written for Prague.

Then begin workings with the dotted minim in the second bar. And, finally, we arrive at –

Soon we have the trumpet call

The passage would seem to be in the key of  A flat. Just before this, however, occurs the Florestan theme in augmentation —

The above ought to be compared with Nottebohm’s first sketch (” Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 453); there we have double, here quadruple augmentation as in thp published Overture. The workings for the Coda do not as yet show an approach to the printed version. The following, however, points towards the close—

Of several short sketches which seem to refer to passages in the opera, one is of particular interest. It is as follows—

Now in the original form of the opera (as performed in 1805) the concluding bars of the Terzet, “Euch w’erde Lohn,” diner from those of the published version, and are as follows—

Possibly the first sketch for the great Mass in D is to be found, not in a sketch book, but in a remarkable autograph preserved in the Royal Library, Berlin. As a preparation for his work he wrote out the Latin words, marking at the same time the quantities. In this document, written in 1818, we find the following—

That was evidently a favourite theme with the composer. We meet with it again—or, to be exact, the first five* minims—among some sketches for the C sharp minor Quartet, in a book which, according to Nottebohm, was not used by Beethoven until the Mass had been finished and produced.

There are sketches for the Mass in an important book belonging to A. Artaria, but there are one or two interesting references to it in the Berlin Library Sketch Books. Here is one—

and here, for the sake of comparison, the passage in the Mass to which it refers—

The first bar of the above sketch is a fore shadowing of the bass of the ff passage preceding our quotation— —

In another Sketch Book (F. 78), at the top of a page, we come across the following— Wünsche den Augustinen mit diesen 2 Chören –  eine Messe oder Te Deum Laudamus. followed by—

and then

the lower stave requiring of course the G clef on the fourth line. On the other side of the page we find –

which really bears no resemblance to the printed passage. There is a Sketch Book (Gr. 5) devoted entirely to the Mass in D, and written almost entirely in pencil; some of the sketches have been inked over. It would sgem as if this book must be a treasure-store from whence to extriict interesting examples; but in many eases it is impossible even to follow the thread of the composer’s thoughts. Not counting a wild page at the end, the very last sketch is—

(The parts for violins and basset, p. 204, bars 5 and 6, of B. and H. score.) With this sketch we must conclude the second series; not, however, for want of material, for the master’s Sketch Books seem inexhaustible.

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