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

I) – MUSICAL TIME June 1, 1892

John South Shedlock, nato a Reading 29.09.1843 e deceduto a Londra il 09.01.1929. Fu un critico musicale e allievo di Lubeck per il pianoforte  e di Lalo per la composizione.

Prima di andare a Parigi per gli studi musicali si laureò all’Università di Londra nel 1864. Ritornò e insegnò musica intercalando con suoi concerti pubblici. Nel 1879 fu nominato critico del “The Academy” e ampliò la sua conoscenza nel campo musicale scrivendo articoli sulla letteratura musicale.  Nel 1902 fu nominato critico del “The Atenaeum” carica che tenne fino al 1916. Fu anche editore del “Musical Monthly Record” per molti anni.

Accanto agli studi musicali si interessò anche di archeologia. Nel 1895 curò  la pubblicazione di due sonate di Kuhnau e una selezione di pezzi per clavicembalo di Pasquini. Nello stesso anno apparve il suo lavoro più importante “ The pianoforte Sonata”. La sua più importante composizione fu un quartetto per pianoforte e archi scritto nel 1886.

Shedlock si dedicò molto a Beethoven, con questa serie di articoli apparsi nel “Musical Times” del 1892 sugli abbozzi di Beethoven, che portarono alla sua scoperta degli studi di Cramer annotate da Beethoven (ora a Berlino).

Fu pubblicato come “The Beethoven-Cramer Studies” nel 1893. Altri lavori su Beethoven furono la traduzione delle Lettere di Beethoven in due volumi e successivamente in un volume e il “Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas”. Possiamo dire che lo Shedlock ha continuato gli studi su abbozzi di Beethoven, iniziati qualche anno prima dallo studioso Gustav Nottebohm.

Luigi Bellofatto

The Sketch Books of Beethoven stand alone in the history of musical art. We are permitted, as it were, to enter the art-work studio of the great master, to see him moulding and shaping musical figures, and often with the smallest means achieving the grandest ends. Page after page of these precious volumes is at times covered with notes jotted down in the heat of inspiration, and often, apparently, in inextricable confusion; at other times a certain order prevails, and one can follow, longo intervallo, the composer’s train of thought. But even where some plan can be traced, or an intention discovered, there are in most cases sudden breakings off, incomplete bars, or an embarrassing choice offered by oder, besser, & c. Yes, everywhere the pages tell but aa imperfect tale, but one, nevertheless, of deep interest, and often of great importance. Among the Additional Manuscripts of the British Museum are some of these Sketch Books, and of these, one (31,766), purchased of Julian Marshall contains important sketches of the Pastoral Symphony, the sonata in A for pianoforte and violoncello op. 69 the two Pianoforte Trios in D and E-flat ; (Op. 70, Nos. 1 and 2) ; a second (29,997) among other things, includes sketches of the Quartets in C sharp and A Sf; minor (Op. 131 and   while a third consists of
sketches the Scotch Songs. That our national library possesses such treasures ought to be better known. A description of their contents, so far as we are able, to decipher them, will therefore be attempted; and apart from the natural and legitimate curiosity to tracethe workings of genius, to see sonatas and symphonies attempted but left undone, to decipher rough and, at times, unintelligible memoranda, a study of these books may kindle. In minds of musicians fresh interest in music which has long been familiar, and, besides, may throw here and there on it some fresh light. Besides the above-named there is a volume among the Additional Manuscripts numbered 29,801, containing, first, a collection of forty consecutive sheets entitled

No. 16 Beethoven Skizzenbuch B
Skizzen zu den “ Ruinen von Athen. ’ zu “ Konig Stephan,” u.a.m.
40 Blatter zusammen.

This is followed by a larger collection of sheets of various shapes and sizes (163 in number). On. an outside paper cover is written

In ink : Notieungsbich I-43
In pencil : Aus dcr 2ten Messe – Aus der c mo, Sonale Op. 111

All this (not ino the composer’s hand-writing) is, however, scratched through, and so far as we have been able to decipher these sheets, they contain nothing whatever referring to the late period at which the Mass and Sonata were sketched or com­pleted. How these sheets were collected, or how this cover came to be placed before them, appears unknown. On the blank sheet at the commencement of the volume and before the above-mentioned Skizzenbuch, is written —

Purchased of J. Kafka,
12 June, 1875.

The following notice of the former possessor of this volume is taken from Pougin’s Supplement to Fetis’s “ Biographie Universelle des Musiciens” — “ Kafka (Johann-Nepomucene), musicien allemand contemporain, a obtenu une certaine popularite dans sa patrie par la publication d’une enorme quantite’ de petits morceaux de musique légère pour le piano, nocturnes, idylles, melodies, improvisations, rhapsodies, etc. Le nombre de ses compositions en ce genre s’ élève a deux-cents environ. M. Kafka est ne a Neustadt (Bohèeme), le 17 Mai, 1819.” In the British Museum (Add. MSS. 29,803) there is a published Nocturne of his with his autograph and date, yienna, December 10, 1872. The volume contains likewise an autograph of Beethoven’s Cadenza to Mozart’s D minor Concerto and one of a Canzonetta by Rossini.
Beyond the fact that the two collections (theSkizzenbuch and what we may call the Notirungsbuch) were purchased by the British Museum authorities of J. Kafka, we know, as yet, nothing more of their history. It may, however, be mentioned here that Kafka had another Beethoven treasure in his possession, which he offered to the Museum in the In a letter to the Museum in the following year (1876). In a letter to the Museum authorities, dated March 19, 1876, he says, he has “ found out lately ” a sketch-book of Beethoven; and in a second letter, dated March 30, he gives the further information that this sketch-book contains sketches of the “Choral Symphony, Missa Solemnis, the Symphonies 5 and 8, Egmont, &c.” This treasure, we regret to say, was not secured for the Museum, although special interest attached to it, seeing that “Beethoven wrote hts Ninth Symphony for the London Philharmonic Society. Nottebohm, in his “ Beetboveniana,” gives sketches of the Pianoforte Sonata (Op. 49, No. 2) which are in this volume. Now “ Beethoveniana ” was published long before the Notirungsbuch came into the British Museum, but Nottebohm merely refers to the sketches as on a sheet of music paper. In Gustav Nottebohm’s posthumous “ Zweite Beethoveniana,” published in 1887, the editor, E. Mandyczewski, merely describes this Notirungsbuch, which is often quoted, as a “ aus vielen einzelnen Bogen und Blattem zuzammengeheftetes Skizzenheft” (a sketch-book consisting of many detached sheets and leaves stitched together). Attention is here called to the fact that with one or two exceptions all the musical illustrations which will be given in the series of articles now commenced appear in print, so far as we are aware, for the first time. Our readers must, therefore, clearly understand that these articles form,, as it were, not extracts from, but rather a supplement to Nottebohm’s “ Beethoveniana ” and “Zweite Beethoveniana.”
In this so called Notirungsbuch to which, for chronological reasons; we shall first draw the attention of our readers —there are sketches dating from the earliest Bonn period, and towards the close there are sketches of a Symphony in C, which was never completed, and at which Beethoven worked shortly before he wrote the Symphony in C (Op. 21). There are also sketches for the Allegro and the Finale of the Pianoforte Concerto in C minor (Op. 37). Both the Symphony (Op. 21) and the Concerto were completed by the year 1800, and thus the contents of this Notirungsbuch may be said to extend from about 1784 to 1800. Now before examining in detail any of its pages, it will be as well to remind our readers of the works on which the composer was engaged during those sixteen years. The Pianoforte Sonatas (Op. 14, Nos. 1 and 2) appeared in December, 1799, and thus, of the published works, we are concerned with Op. 1 to Op. 14. But, in addition, there are the works with a later opus number than Op. 14, but which were sketched or partially completed before the year 1800.
For convenience of reference the list of published works is given :

Pianoforte Trios in E flat, G and C minor.
Three Pianoforte Sonatas.
Trio for strings in E flat.
Quintet for strings in E flat.
Two Sonatas for violoncello and pianoforte (F and G minor).
Pianoforte Sonata for four hands.
Pianoforte Sonata in E flat.
Serenade for strings.
Three Trios for strings.
Three Pianoforte Sonatas (C minor, F, D).
Pianoforte Trio for pianoforte, clarinet, and violoncello-
Three Sonatas for pianoforte and violin.
Pianoforte Sonata (“Pathttique”).
Two Pianoforte Sonatas (E and G).

The great interest attaching to this Notirungsbuch will at once become evident when it is mentioned that of the above-mentioned works there are sketches of more or less importance of at least eight out of the fourteen.
But of the later published works, there are sketches of the Pianoforte Concertos in C (Op. 15), B flat (Op. 19) C minor (Op. 37), the Quartet in A (Op. 18, No. 5), the Quintet (or pianoforte and wind (Op. 16), the Sextet for wind instruments (Op. 71), the Pianoforte Sonatas (Op 49, Nos. 1 and 2); of various sets of Variations for Pianoforte, 2Adelaide ” (Op. 46), “ Ah! perfido ” (Op. 65), The Opferlied (Op.121b)

The Bonn sketches, if viewed in the right light, will not be found, lacking in interest. In later sketch­books we see the master creating, developing, and completing works which now rank amongst his highest achievements. But here, for the most part, we have to deal with sketches of works of compara­tively slight musical interest, and, as is frequently the case, unfinished. These early efforts of the composer have, nevertheless, an attraction of their own. On sheet seventy we have probably one of the earliest of Beethoven’s sketches. It is a movement entitled “Sinfonia,” and commences thus:—

Now in the year 1785 Beethoven wrote three Piano Forte Quartets, the autograph of which bears the title:—

“Trois Quatuors pour Clavecin, Violino, Viola e basso, 1783, Composée de Louis van Beethoven, agé 13 ans.”

The theme of the Allegro con spirito (the second movement of No.1 in E flat) commences as follows;—

The Symphony has become a Pianoforte Quartet: the key has changed, and beyond these opening bars no further use was made of the sketch. We, of course, presume that this “Sinfonia” sketch was written out before the Quartet, for it is scarcely likely that Beethoven, having completed the latter, would commence sketching out a Symphony on the same theme. His habit of sketching was then adopted from childhood. The boldness of the-theme will not escape notice, nor the fact that it recalls the opening phrase of the Allegro of the Sonata in F minor (Op. 2, No. 1) (especially as it appeared in its original form) — Another old sketch is the Romance cantabile for cembalo, flute, and bassoon concertante, with (accompaniment of two violins, two violas, basso, and two oboes. The first section in E minor, written out in score, commences thus —

Of this there are over fifty bars, and then follows a “ Maggiore ” section, of which, however, only four bars are written out. Some empty lines below this score contain opening bars of a posthumous Rondo in B flat, for pianoforte and orchestra, and other sketches. This Romance was sold by auction after Beethoven’s death. It was No. 179 in the catalogue, and marked thus :—

Unbekanntes Trio fur Pianoforte, Flote, und Fagott
fruhere Arbeit noch in Bonn.

Beethoven is known to have written a Pianoforte Concerto at Bonn in 1784, and from a letter of his he appears to have made several attempts before the first one published in Vienna. On the following page is given an interesting sketch, or rather epitome of a slow movement of a Concerto, which, if not actually Bonn, is very early Vienna. It is written on a sheet of paper with names of instruments and signatures showing that it was apparently originally intended fof some score. These names and signatures, not being in any way connected with the sketch, are now omitted. The writing of the names of the instruments corresponds closely with that of the “ Romance ” (which was certainly written at Bonn) names of instruments mentioned above; the music and other writing would, however, seem to have been added a little later. We have not thought it necessary to put in bars and treble clefs where Beethoven has omitted them, as in second line; a careful reader can easily supply them. In some bars the notes are not clear, and Beethoven has written the letter names .over them. The page contains two more staves below, across which the remarks respecting the Clavier solos are written. The “ so langsam als moglich,” in the note at bottom of page, recalls Schumann’s “ so rasch wie moglich.” The last words over music marked No. 30 point to a continuation or alteration on other side of page. There are, in fact, some bars, having something to do with the Coda, but the sketch itself is practically complete without them.

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