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

X) – MUSICAL TIME January 1, 1894


By J. S. Shedlock, B.A.




When Beethoven was quite young he could play by heart the preludes and fugues of the “Wohltemperirtes Clavier,” and the frequent allusions to Sebastian Bach in the Sketch Books show in what estimation the old was held by the modem master. In one place we meet with over twenty bars of the Chromatic Pantasia, commencing from—

and over twenty bars of the fugue, witch follows, copied out. And the Fugue is carefully marked. “Sebastian Bach”. In a sketch Book belongoing to A. Artaria there are two passages from “Art of Fugue” and also two passages from the great five-part Fugue in B flat minor (“ Wohl. CL,” Part I., No. 22). That Fugue, indeed, must specially have attracted Beethoven’s attention, for in the Royal Library, Berlin, there is a score of it, for Violini, Viola, and Celli in the master’s handwriting, and marked “Fuga von Sebastian Bach.” A word or two with regard to this relic may prove of interest to students. There is one passage (bars 50 and 51) which reads thus, in the Bach-Gesellschaft edition:—

Now a note in the Appendix tells us that neither in the text of the Bach-Gesellschaft (which follows the famous Wagener Autograph) nor in that of any other edition is the five-part writing, with its stretto effects, clearly indicated; and for anyone who might wish to make a score, the editor, Franz Kroll, by a slight alteration, suggests a choice of ways of making each part clear. They are as follows—

Now in the score made by Beethoven not one of these three readings is adopted. The composer had in his possession a copy (Nägeli edition) of the “ Wohltemperirtes Clavier,” but he did not even follow this. The Nägeli bars are as follows—

Beethoven’s score reads thus—

and, as compared with the other readings, is by no means satisfactory.

A few bars later we find Beethoven scratching out some notes ; he had evidently mistaken the second soprano for first, and the tenor for second soprano. From this it would seem as if he had not previously studied the music with a view to writing it out in open score. His version of the famous stretto commencing in bar 67 is singularly corrupt. In bar 70, for instance, the bass has a rest in place of the minim F, the most telling note of the passage. In bar 21 Beethoven writes consecutive fifths between first soprano and tenor—

So far as we are aware, they do not exist in any autograph, manuscript, or printed copy. In the Nägeli edition (which he most probably used) the parts run, in the usual manner, as follows—

Were these consecutive fifths an oversight ? Or may we venture to suppose that they were a joke ? On the third page of the sheet on which Beethoven has written out this B flat minor Fugue there is a sketch of Bagatelle, No. 7 (Op. 33)—

and, on the last page, one of the Coda of No. 3 in C. These Bagatelles were written about 1800, so probably that is near the date of the Fugue score. These references to Bach are most interesting, and others could be quoted from Nottebohm. Beethoven’s admiration for the master was extreme, and as readers of the “Zweite Beethoveniana” know, he made repeated attempts at a Bach Overture. In one book he has the following note:— “Overture auf Bach sehr fugirt mit 3 (Posaunen ? Subjecten ?)”


Beethoven’s veneration for Bach’s great contemporary is well known. “The Messiah” being once the subject of conversation Beethoven said of Händel: “I would uncover my head and kneel at his grave” And on his deathbed, pointing to the volumes of Händel’s works which had been presented to him, He exclaimed: “There is the truth.”
Among the Sketch Books there are some interesting allusions to Händel. In the Berlin Library there is a portion of the Overture to Solomon ” written out in open score by Beethoven. Again, in one place we find the opening bars of the following numbers from “ The Messiah ” : “And the glory,” “But who may abide,” “Thou that tellsst,” “ The people that walked” “ The[Pastoral Symphony,” and “Behold the Lamb of God,” with certain score indications referring to Mozart’s so-called additional accompaniments. In The people that walked ” he has written the first four bars, and underneath the last has written Mozart’s entry of clarinets (in A)—

Then follow  “Thy rebuke,” “Behold and see,” “He was cut off,” written out in full (1 V. 2 V., Va, Bassi), with German text.
Next, three bars of the score of “ Thou shalt break them,” also the commencement of “ know that my Redeemer liveth,” the violins being marked “ con sordini,” and a few bars Clarino solo in D, of Mozart’s version of 4t The trumpet shall sound.” (It may be mentioned that in a Sketch Book in the British Museum there are also some attempts at scoring ” I know that ray Redeemer liveth.”) These are immediately followed by—

and some sketches for the first and last movements of the Violin Concerto in D. This juxtaposition of “The Messiah” and the C minor Symphony is a musical phenomenon well worthy of note. There is an allusion to both Handel and Mozart in a Sketch Book in the Library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna. On a sheet containing a sketch of the opening of the Pianoforte Sonata in C minor (Op. 111) there is the folipwing curious entry—

the first being the theme of the Kyrie fugue in Mozart’s Requiem, the second the theme of “And with Thy stripes” from “The Messiah.” Why did not Beethoven complete the triumvirate, and quote—

from the Finale of Haydn’s Quartet in F minor (Op. 20, No. 5) ? Another interesting fact with regard to Handel. Professor Fischhoff, whose name in connection with Beethoven autographs is well known, came into possession of a volume (old English edition) of Handel’s “ Lessons for the Harpsichord,” which had belonged to Beethoven in his student days. (We find, for instance, in the Fugue of the E minor Suite the various entries of the theme marked.) That volume is now in the Berlin Library. In the Fugue of the F sharp minor Suite, bars 13, 14 are as follows—

The consecutive octaves attracted the student’s attention. He ran his pencil through the B of the diiddle voice, and wrote in the margin also in pencil—  “ könnte D seyn weil es das Subjectum ist ” (might be D, as it is the subject). The middle voice, in fact, has the subject, and D is the right note belonging to it. Nineteen bars later came the following passage—

Beethoven felt there was something wrong with the harmonic progression, put a mark (x) against the second D in the lowest voice, and wrote in the margin—  “ vielleicht H ” (perhaps B). This was a good suggestion, but the German Händel Society edition shows that the A was the note needing correction, thus—


In a book containing sketches of the C minor and Pastoral Symphonies we find the composer has copied out thirty bars of the development section of the Finale of Mozart’s Symphony in G minor (at least of the string parts) from— ‘

For the first note of bar 6 (p. 42, B. and H. score) Beethoven has written G or A in place of Mozart’s B flat. Was it a slip or intentional ? This G minor extract is actually on a sheet containing—

the transition passage to the Finale of the C minor Symphony. Nottebohm, in his “Zweite Beethoveniana,” mentions the curious fact that in tone-succession (though not in rhythm or key) the first nine notes of the Finale of the Mozart Symphony are the same as the first nine of the Scherzo of the C minor Symphony. For the sake of comparison we quote the two openings. The principal theme of the Piano-forte Sonata in F minor (Op. 2, No. 1)—

seems also to have been suggested by Mozart. But in our first series on the Beethoven Sketch Books (June, 1892, p. 333) we gave, as the prototype of the F minor Sonata theme, one from an early Pianoforte Quartet by Beethoven, written three years before Mozart’s Symphony was produced, and transposing the Beethoven into G minor, the key of the Mozart—

“Did Beethoyen notice the resemblance?”  asks Nottebohm

Le fonti bibliografiche  di questa pagina sono curate da Luigi Bellofatto. Chi volesse consultare o richiedere dette fonti, può contattare l’ autore tramite il nostro modulo di contatto.

Gli esempi musicali di questa pagina sono curati da Graziano Denini. Chi volesse consultare o richiedere questi file, può contattare l’ autore tramite il nostro modulo di contatto.

© Copyright del Centro Ricerche Musicali Responsabili, curatori e coautori: Luigi Bellofatto , Graziano Denini, Armando Orlandi. Per consultare la lista dei nostri numerosi ricercatori e collaboratori riferirsi alla nostra pagina dedicata. I testi, le immagini, le fotografie, le illustrazioni e gli MP3 sono proprietà esclusiva dei loro autori e del Centro Ricerche Musicali. File MIDI proprietà di Pierre-Jean Chenevez. Le suddette opere non possono essere utilizzate e divulgate senza l’autorizzazione scritta dei medesimi. Pubblicazione web: Aruba. Sito ottimizzato per dispositivi mobili, tablet e PC con risoluzione 1920x1440. Il sito utilizza esclusivamente cookie tecnici per fornire un servizio migliore agli utenti. Non tracciano il visitatore né rimandano dati a terze parti. Per questi cookie non serve un banner di consenso preventivo, ne facciamo comunque menzione in questa sede.