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

IX) – MUSICAL TIME September 8, 1893


By J. S. Shedlock, B.A.



There is a bound Sketch Book in the Royal Library at Berlin entitled— “ Autographe de Louis van Beethoven Livre d’ esquisses, con tenant les idees pour la grande fugue, pour des Valses, et pour different Quatuors.” The authenticity of the book is guaranteed by Artaria and Co. (Vienna, 1847), who have appended their seal, but a glance at the pages inside is suffi­cient guarantee. The “ differents Quatuors ” are those in B flat (Op. 130), C sharp minor (Op. 131), and F (Op. 135); the Fugue » the one for strings (Op. 133). It is quite evident from the works here  named that this is one of the latest of the master Sketch Books. (The Finale of the B flat Quartet, at now published, was only completed about four months before Beethoven’s death.) It was not actually the latest, because we shall presently give a version of the theme of the Finale of the C sharp minor Quartet which shows that the movement was, as yet, in a comparatively early stage. Our volume* opens with—

The second and the third b in the lower voice should evidently be read as a b natural. Beethoven is at work at his fugue. After a time we come to sketches with “Walzer pour le Clavier”  written at the top of the page. The first is in the key of D, 3/8 time. Another one, however, is in 2/4, and commences thus—

Then wecome to –

and to the familiar –

In one of the sketch Books of 1825-6 mentioned by Nottebohm (Zweite Beethoveniana Ch. i) the theme of the first movement of the C sharp minor Fugue is at first given –

as in this book, but the printed version is also found there  Hence that book of 1825-6 would seem to contain later workings.
Soon after there ia a sketch for a canon, at which Beethoven had made previous attempts. In the second of the above-mentioned Sketch Books connected with the last quartets there is a sketch of a canon “ Freu dich des Lebens”; and in the third of the same there ia a later version of this canon, as follows

his occurs between sketches for the Quartet in E flat and the one in C sharp minor. Curiously enough there is still another version of this canon in the book under notice, and it occurs among sketches foi the same works. At the head stand the words— “Muthig u. Schnell” It has the plural form Freut euch in place of Freu dich, and the close is different, thus—

It has the plural form Freut euch in place of Freu dich. and the close is different, thus—

This is an evident improvement. Also the entry of the second voice is indicated at the commencement of the third bar. — Here is a sketch apparently for a “2° Stück” of  the C sharp minor Quartet—

And here it one of the theme of the variations, but, aa yet, the opening sentence bean traces of imper-fection— – ‘’

Nottebohm, in his  “Zweite Beethoveniana” tells us that the theme of the Finale passed through many transformations. Here is one which we meet with—

And here again is an imperfected form of the theme of the second movement in D –

Also another of the name, commencing on the downbeat –

Soon after this we meet with the opening of the Andante theme as ra the printed version, bat not yet divided between the two violins. From a previous sketch, however, it can be seen that such a plan was in the composer’s mind. And we also fipd a wild sketch for the Allegro moderato. No 4, beginning—

In the following, with ita doubly dotted notes, we seen to have a foreshadowing of the Adagio in G sharp minor (No. 6)—

One must not examine too closely into the values. The highest part is in 2-4, the lowest in 3-4 measure; possibly a crotchet rest should be added to most of the bars of the former; thus—

By way of change we come to a sketch of simple and marked rhythm—

We now catch a glimpse of the Andante moderate e Lusinghiero—

followed by sketches for that movement. Right in the middle of workings for the Finale of the C sharp minor Quartet, of which we may perhaps quote one more metamorphosis of the theme—

we come across this extraordinary passage—

So here is the theme of the slow movement of the Quartet in F (Op. 135), but without its calm without its majesty. For a transformation of measure somewhat similar one must hark back, we fancy, to the composer’s Op. 18. The slow movement of the second Quartet in G was originally sketched in common time thus—

but, as is known, was published in 3/4 measure. But still that theme retained breadth and nobility. What makes the change of the Op. 135 theme still more extraordinary is the fact that on a previous page we find odd oars of it already in 6/3 measure. Such a change is one of the mysteries of genius. Over the sketch Beethoven has written— “ Süsser Ruhe Gesang ” (Song of Sweet Rest).

We soon find him hard at work at the Finale of the C sharp minor Quartet.
Here is a characteristic sketch of the Coda of this Fi

The biga thickly marked semibreves in the last eight bars show that the composer was in an excited—or, we may say, inspired—state when he penned this sketch. What the Volti subito in the margin means is difficult to say. If the page of the Sketch Book be turned over, we find a long sketch of the Adagio of the last Quartet. And indeed this is foreshadowed, for on the previous page, underneath the above sketch, we find—

and –

The Adagio sketch is apparently one of the whole movement, but  it does not contain the più lento episode in C sharp minor of the published version. Then follow one or two sketches, of which one—

somewhat resembles in rhythm the Vivace of the Quartet in F—

Of this movement we soon have a definite sketch, and one indeed which shows that it was not in an elementary stage. This is written in pencil, and after pages of similar sketches we come across—

which has, as superscription— “ Der entzwungene Entschluss” (The forced resolution). *ln the published score we find the words— “Der Schwer Gefasste Entschiuss”, and farther on—

Judging from the sketches, the resolve was not indeed one hastily taken. Later on we have the theme with counterpoint—

In connection with this theme we give a canon written by Beethoven, July, 1826. It is neither in the Beethoven Edition of Breitkopf und Härtel nor in the Supplement. (See Thayer, Them. Verz., 261.)

Later on we have the opening of the Finale of the B flat Quartet (Op. 130)—

Nottebohm “Zweite Beethoveniana,” p. 522) mentions a pocket sketch book used by Beethoven during the summer of 1826, which contains workings for the last movements of the Quartets, Op. 135 and Op. 130, but gives no quotations from it (The book from which our present examples are drawn is no pocket book, but, as stated, a large oblong one with sixteen staves on a page.) In order to complete the notice of this remarkable Sketch Book we give a few sketches from it. Here, for instance, are a few bars marked Quintett—

In the year 1826 Beethoven received from the publisher Diabelli a commission to write a quintet, and in the above-mentioned pocket Sketch Book, and in one formerly belonging to A. Schindler (and now in the Royal Library, Berlin), there are sketches for such a work. Then again we have—

This comes just after the sketch for the Finale of the B flat Quartet. Here is another sketch —

and another

And here is the last piece of writing in the book, a genuine dernière pensée

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