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

II) – MUSICAL TIME June 1, 1892

(Continued front p. 334.)
PIANOFORTE TRIOS IN E FLAT, G, AND C MINOR (Op. 1, Nos. 1,2, and 3).

Herr Nottebhom, in his “Zweite Beethoveniana,” devotes a whole chapter to the sketches of the second and third of these Trios, some of which, quoted by him, are to be found in the Museum Notirungsbuch, while others exist on loose sheets in the Royal Library at Berlin. There has been some difference of opinion as to the date or dates at which the Trios were finished, and as to which was the earliest. With regard to date, Thayer (Beethoven’s Leben, Book 2, ch. 12, “ Was hat Beethoven in Bonn componirt ? ”) believes that they were composed, at latest, in the year 1793. He mentions the statement of Ries vho relates that thiey wene played
before Haydn , who left Vienna for London January 16, 1794. Fet over against this must be placed Schindler’s declaration that Ries’s tale is based on a misunderstanding. Thayer is of opinion that these Trios, which Beethoven showed to Haydn, were written at Bonn at the composer’s leisure, and not between his hours of study and during the excitement of new life in Vienna. Thayer, indeed, in support of an early date, refers to a manuscript catalogue which’states that the posthumous Trio in E flat was composed in 1791, and originally intended, for Op. 1, but was set aside. Beethoven cnnsirlering it too weak Nottebhom the other hand, believes that the Trio in G was not ready by the end of 1794, and that the Trio in C minor was completed at a still later period (according to Schindler, however, the C minor was the first one finished). In his “Zweite Beethoveniana ” {p. 21) Nottebohm gives a sketch of the principal thenie of the Allegro of the Trio in G, commencing thus:—

At the end of the chapter (p. 27) he refers to that’ sketch as,appearing in conjunction with an “ Opfer- lied ” sketch. And in his “ Beethoveniana ” (p. 51) he gives the same “ Opferlied” sketch with a foot-note to the effect that as this sketch is followed by treat¬ment of the first movement of the Trio in G (Op. 1, No. 2), its date can be approximately determined, since the Trio was completed at the earliest towards the end of 1794. Now in the Notirungsbuch there is the “ Opferlied” sketch quoted in “ Beethoveniana,” followed by sketches of the firsi movement of the Trio-; but still the sketch qiloted by Notiebohm mentioned above is not among them. Indeed, every time the group of notes in the second bar occurs, the notes are written as semiquavers. Did Beethoven write down the “ Opferlied ” sketch twice in exactly the same way ? and were both “ Opferlied ” sketches followed by Trio sketches ? or has Nottebohm mixed his Berlin and British Museum sketches of tlw Trio ? This confusion is. mentioned to assist anyone looking closely into the matter, but as bearing upon the date of the work it is not of any moment. The fact may, however, be noted, that in the Notirungsbuch there are sketches of the G Trio not mentioned by Nottebohm. But the confusion does-not end here. On the second page of leaf containing the first moveent sketches of Trio in G, there is a sketch of the third movement of the Trio in C minor followed by interesting sketch of the slow movement of the Trio in G. Nottebohom quotes the-C minor sketch, and remarks that it was written at latest in 1793 (“Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 27). Why 1793, it may be asked, if it is on the same sheet containing an “ Opferlied ’’ sketch to which the date 1794 is assigned? .
That Beethoven may have written the “ Opferlied ” sketch later than the others, and yet both on the same sheet, is, of course, quite possible, but then some special reason ought to have been gi^en for assigning to each a different date.
But an attempt has been made by Nottebohm to fix the date of the G Trio. He gives two sketches, one of the third, the other of the fourth movement. The same’ sheet on which they are to be found contains, he tells us, two two-part fugues and the commence¬ment of’a three-part fugue written in connection with Beethoven’s lessons with Albrechtsberger. This .naturally leads Nottebohm to assiga^the-Trio sketches toL ihe-year–1794, during” which Beethoven studied with Albrechtsberger._
But here again his argument is not very satisfactory. Referring to Thayer’s statement that possibly the Trio was written in Bonn, Nottebohm says that a long time cannot have elapsed between the filling of the first and last pages of the sheet. He also adds that it is not likely that Beethoven brought the half-filled sheet from Bonn to Vienna. The number of sheets containing Bonn sketches in our Notirurigsbuch would,, however, afford a strong proof to the contrary. We have attempted’ to show that Nottebohm’s statements must be carefully tested. Thayer’s reasoning in favour of an early date seems, indeed, more satisfactory than Nottebohm’s evidence for a later one. We shall now succinctly describe the Notirungsbuch sketches themselves.
There are sketches in four different parts of the book, but not knowing on whose authority the leaves have been bound together, one must be careful not to consider later sheets equivalent to later dates. .
Page 69 contains sketches, referred to above, of the development section of the first movement. The following is the sketch of the Largo, beginning with ttie second subject in B major. The middle modulatory section does not appear to be settled, yet already the Coda is beginning to take shape in the composer’s mind ; the sketch form differs, however, from the printed version. We shall have other opportunities of seeing how the composer sketched, as it were, from a definite tone-picture in his mind—

The third Example should, we imagine, be read in the treble clef and in the key of F. The written sentence at the end (the softened in a “Tage” is, we are informed, an Austrian provincialism) would seem to refer to the lessons with Albrechtsberger. It would, indeed, seem probable that this leaf and the one mentioned by Nottebohm, with the two-part fugue, & c., originally belonged to the same sketch book. It may be mentioned that Albrechtsberger gave Beethoven a set of subjects prepared for fugue-work—i.e., capable of stretto, &c. Beethoven, so far as one can tell from the published studies, always selected one of these subjects for his fugue exercises. They are all in common or alia breve time, whereas—it is curious to note—the three subjects just quoted are in triple time. On page 56 there are interesting sketches of the second and third Trios, and as they are not mentioned at all by Nottebohm, they shall be briefly described. The first begins thus—

and consists of the bass of the passage leading from the exposition to the development section of the Finale of the G Trio. Like The sketches of this movement mentioned by Nottebohm, it is in C time, thereby confirming Wegeler’s statement (Biogr. Not, p. 29) that Beethoven originally wrote it in 4-4 time. A good part of the development section is sketched; then comes the principal theme of the last movement, thus—

followed by—

Evolutionists will be glad, perhaps, to trace a Beethoven figure from its gerfh—

The above is an extract from an early sketch, and then-

is the printed version. The process was, therefore

On the other side of the sheet there are sketches connected with two of the movements of the C minor Trio. First, of the third movement, we have—

This is followed by the melody (with a few bass notes) an octave lower, for “ violine,’’ and the passage is like the printed version, but with differences which show how minute was the attention given by Beet- hoven to his works. Then, among sketches for the first movement, we liieet with a rough draft’ of the principal theme of the first movement—

By the way, is the following on this page a sketch of one of the Variations (unpublished) for two oboes and English horn on ” Li ci darem la mano” ? This should be compared with the sketch in Nottebohm’s “ Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 30—

The second page of sheet 116 is of great interest. On the first two staves we find—

It almost seems as if this were an early sketch theme for the Finale of the C minor Trio. Underneath it is a sketch of the commencement of the development section of the first movement of the Trio in G—

The similarity of notes and figures in the two last illustrations will not’eseape~observation ; and indeed, if similarity counts for anything, it may be noticed that we have also—

In the minore of second menuetto of e flat trio for strings (Op. 3), probably written about the same time that’the Trios were sketched, if not completed. It is, of course, natural that there should be certain resemblances of mood and mode in works produced simultaneously, but it is interesting to note the fact. Another striking example occurs in the Sonata in B-flat and the Theme Vari6 in G, at which Beethoven worked simultaneously—

The whole of the remainder of the page is devoted to sketches of this first movement. Here is one extract—

a different cadence from the one in the printed version, and one, apparently, of greater power. The X seems to indicate something special. Higher up on the same page there is another attempt at the same cadence.
A half-sheet numbered 126 is also of special interest. On the first page and top lines of second page there is a beautifully written condensed score of the whole sf the Scherzo of the G major Trio, with exception of the seven concluding bars. Afterwards come various sketches, and among them one of the third of ti e “ Contretanze,” not published until the year 1802. It commences thus—

From the appearance of this and the other sketches they were not written at the same time as the Scherzo, and hence afford no fresh evidence as to the date of the G Trio. Among these sketches is written “ Hausdiener Abends Wasser holen.” No sketches, it is said, have been discovered of the Pianoforte Trio in E flat (Op. 1, No. 1). Was, perchance, the following, occurring on sheet 68 mentioned above, containing sketches of the other two Trios, a sketch for the Finale of the E flat ?—.

In our next article we shall examine the sketches connected with the Pianoforte Sonatas (Op. 7, 10, and 14, No. 1).

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