Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11/30 Not Small Bagels and a Children's Game.

(Bagelletes vs Bagatelles)
A couple of my favorite Beethoven piano pieces not part of the monumental 32 Sonatas:

7 Bagatelles Op.33 No. 5. Allegro ma non troppo
One of my favorite B. bagatelles - playful, humorous but serious.  Near the end (around 2:19) it sounds as if Beethoven was testing a "sticky" key.  So bizarre....yet it sounds so perfect where it is.
Sviatoslav Richter on piano here performs the following:
1. Op. 33 No. 5
2. Op. 33 No. 3
3. Op. 119 No. 7
4. Op. 119 No. 9
5. Op. 126 No. 1
Live recording, 1959, a really sublime set.

3 Marches for Piano, Four Hands Op.45  - No. 2 In E Flat Major, Vivace
Pianos: Frank Zabel - Stefan Thomas

I haven't found any good videos of this march for 4-hands so I just threw one together....

The trio section (starting at 2:52) has a very cool bass "rumble" motif, followed by an odd "chutes and ladders" arpeggio... 

Monday, November 29, 2010

11/29 Beethoven "Invents" Swing Jazz

(the 18th century Bohemian look?)
When I first listened through the complete works of Beethoven, I was struck several times by how several times, especially in his piano music, he evokes a kind of rhythmic syncopation with a swing-ey bass line which undeniably pre-echoes 20th century jazz or "ragtime".  I don't think anyone could say Beethoven "invented" jazz, but it's pretty amazing that his soundworld could encompass elements which would not truly reach fruition until more than a hundred years later...Here's a couple "jazzy" places I can recall, though there are several more I'm sure...

Diabelli Variations Op.120 (1823) Variation #16 (Maria Yudina).  Some jazzy basslines...

Diabelli Variation #27 (Maria Yudina again).

Piano Concerto 1 (1797), 3rd Movement at around 2:33, as performed by Martha Argerich and Seiji Ozawa has a pretty ragtimey section....  (The full concerto was previously posted.)

And finally Piano Sonata 32, Op.111 (1822), an excerpt from the 2nd movement by Maurizio Pollini, 1973.  There is a kind of back-beat here...

Andras Schiff however takes exception.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

11/28 Beethoven's Missa Solemnis (COE conducted by Nelson)

1st Sketch of the Missa Solemnis (BhB)
Beethoven called the Missa Solemnis his greatest work.  Written on the first page of the final score it says “From the heart — may it again — go to the heart!”.  He had done a previous Mass in C (which is somewhat underrated) but this "solemn mass" in D minor is truly sublime.  Here's the Chamber Orchestra of Europe performing it with John Nelson conducting.  A beautiful and highly focused performance.

Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Tamara Wilson, soprano
Elizabeth DeShong, mezzosoprano
Nikolai Schukoff, tenor
Brindley Sherratt, bass

Gulbenkian choir
Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Conducted by John Nelson
1 hr 15 min.
The playlist is not embeddable here, but click below to play it in sequence in Youtube...
Some great notes here and Barry Mitchell's transcription of a review by Eduard Hanslick.here.
This site is actually devoted to the Missa Solemnis and includes historical background and an analysis.
2nd sketch page.  Only 2657 more to go....(est.)
Also I finally got around to linking up the works index page...I hope I can keep it up to date!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

11/27 Beethoven is "Serious", Mozart is "Dissonant"

Beethoven's "Serioso" String Quartet was originally written just for a small circle of friends and was never meant to be published: "The quartet (op. 95) is written for a small circle of connoisseurs and is never to be performed in public."  Fortunately for us it "got out" and we have one of B.'s most sublime middle period quartets.  Some people say it was written in reaction to a rejection letter from a lady friend, others say it was inspired by the shelling Napoleon inflicted on Vienna with his cannons (not canons).  You can find a fine visual analysis of movement 1 here:
and additional analysis here at the Wiki page.

Here's The New Russian Quartet performing Beethoven's String Quartet No. 11 in Fm, Op.95 "Serioso" (1811), followed by Mozart's "Dissonance" Quartet K465 to fill out the program....

Friday, November 26, 2010

11/26 Thanksgiving in Vienna

Click on the small pic below to be transported to Vienna.  Happy Thanksgiving!
(press F11 after you click below to make it bigger, press F11 again to go back to normal)
It's a holiday, what do you expect? :)
...and a day late :( 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

11/25 A Collage of Beethoven scores and notices

Print this out on many sheets of paper and use as wrapping paper for the gift-giving season...
 Holiday season is here so I may slow up on the heavy analysis a bit...?  At least this weekend...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

11/24 My 1st Grosse Fugue Analysis

If look around this blog you will find the Grosse Fuge, Opus 133, Beethoven's most "difficult" work, popping up several times.  I've had a real "love/fear" relationship with it.  The first time I heard it I was amazed and just blown away by the sheer audacity.  Later on it made me feel uneasy and anxious every time the fugue exposition started.  After awhile I approached it warily, like some kind of wild beast, attacking it from different angles....well I finally decided to work on a dedicated analysis and I think I have the crazy thing somewhat under control...for now.

I know that music students get tested on their skills at music analysis but if any professor gives the Grosse Fuge as an assignment then he must be pretty mean since there's virtually no definitive way to analyze this.  I looked at 4 published sources and none of them agreed for the most part, and in my personal final analysis I deviated drastically from the experts.  So if any readers use today's post as a source for some assignment - expect a "D"!  However the way I broke it down makes the sense to me so that's how I'll present it.  Because this is a "Grand Fugue" many writers use fugue terminology such as subject, counter-subject, counter-exposition, stretto, episode, etc....I'm going to analyze it in a somewhat less technical fashion based on what I hear and not so much what I can circle in the score....besides one could say the whole thing is just a massive variation of the first 10 bars....
String Quartet Op.133 "Grosse Fuge" (1826) 
Performed by the Takács Quartet, one of my favorite modern quartets.

(The numbers in ( ) refer to the theme number, C = counter-theme, I = inversion. Letters refer to the score sections)

Overture (with 4 main theme subjects)
(1) : note the end trill, also the 1st bar grace motif, Allegro, 6/8, GM
(2) : irregular zigzag shape, 6/8, GM
(3A) : even zigzag w. (3B) countersubject 2nd time), Meno mosso, 2/4, FM (dominant)
(4) : restrained here, but explodes in Part I, Allegro, 4/4, BbM (tonic)

Part I: Double fugue on (4) and (4C). (4C) is derived from (1), Allegro, 4/4
 Exposition: Subject entrances, followed by "Codetta" variation
  Pt 1 - 8th triplets, scalar variations, (Letter A)
  Pt 2 - big interval leap version of (4), (Letter B)
  Pt 3 - Cross-accents, hybrid triplet/duple rhythm, (Letter C)
  Pt 4 - (4C) triplets vs (4) straight duple, (Letter D)

Part II: Double fugue on (3), Meno Mosso E Moderato, GbM
Exposition: Subject entrances
  Pt 1 - several (3B), (3A) entrances
  Pt 2 - (3B) fragments varied
  Pt 3 - (3A) Variations, (3B) become unison, (Letter E)

Part III: MARCH using (2) with "jaunty" counter-theme, Allegro, 6/8, BbM

Part IV: GROSSE DEV w 3 fugue STAGES
STAGE 1. Double Fugue on (1), (2) inverted, AbM (Letter F)
... trill frag of (1) leads to rhythmic unison, (Letter G)

STAGE 2. (1), (2i), BbM…(Letter H)
... trill unisons leading to key change to EbM (Letter I)
...(2) variations; Bar 1 motif, EbM

STAGE 3. (4C), (1) further variation, AbM, (Letter J)
...(1) fragment becomes descending 3 note sequence, (Letter K)
...Reprise of Part II more forcefully, (3B), (1), Meno Mosso E Moderato, AbM,
...Transition w Drifting chords; low trills

Part V: MARCH (recap) (2), Allegro BbM

Part VI Codas
Coda 1, 2nd theme (high slurrs), Bb, (Letter L)
...(2) in cello, pizz
...(1), wistfully, (2), (Letter M)
Coda 2, Reminiscence of previous themes (4C, 3B, 1, 2, March, low trilling), Allegro
...trading (1) trills, (4C) fragment, (Letter N)

Every time I review this analysis I see something I missed - but I have to stop now, it seems to be getting out of control again....
M.A.M. image.
Some helpful books for today's analysis included Lewis Lockwood's "Music and Life" as well as Alan Rich's book.
Some more Grosse Fugue "opinions":
OK...don't expect alot of thought for the next 2 days :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11/23 The Immortal Beloved Letter (Autograph)

Around 1812 Beethoven wrote a long letter (10 pages) to some woman who he was obviously quite taken with.  Sadly we will never know for certain who it was.  However the letter itself was discovered after Beethoven's death in a secret drawer where he also kept the Heiligenstadt Testament, some savings and some pictures.  Based on these images, I feel that these were a "rough draft" copy which he then copied out in a neater style and then sent to the lady in question.  That would explain why he had a copy in his desk.

Or maybe Beethoven found out she slept with Daniel Steibelt and he never sent it - who knows?
Here is the "Immortal Beloved Letter" - click on the images for a larger size:
July 6
In the morning-

My angel, my all
my self - only a few
words today, and indeed with pencil
(with yours)
only tomorrow is my lodging positively fixed
what a worthless waste
of time on such - why
this deep grief, where
necessity speaks -
can our love exist but
by sacrifices
by not demanding everything
can you change it, that you
not completely mine. I am not
completely yours - Oh God
look upon beautiful nature
and calm your soul
over what must be - love
demands everything and completely with good reason.
so it is for me with you, for you
with me - only you forget
so easily, that I must live for myself and
for you, were
we wholly united, you would
feel this painfulness
just as little as I -

my trip was frightful.
I arrived here only at 4
o'clock yesterday morning.
because they lacked horses,
the postal service chose another
route but what a
horrible way, at the next to the
last station they warned
me about traveling at night,
made me afraid of a forest,
but this only
provoked me - and I was
mistaken, the coach had
to break down
on the terrible route,
a mere bottomless
country road and the without 2 such postil-
lions as I had, I would have
been stranded on the way

Esterhazy on the
other customary route
here had the same fate
with 8 horses, as I with
four - still I had
some pleasure again.
as always, whenever I fortunately
survive something - now quickly
to interior from exterior.
we will probably see each other soon.
even today I cannot
convey to you observances,
which I made during these
few days about my
life - were
our hearts always close
together, I would of course make none of the sort
my heart is full of much
to tell you - Oh - there
are still moments when I find
that speech is nothing
at all - cheer up -
remain my faithful only
treasure, my all, as I for you
the rest the gods must
send what must
and should be for us -- your faithful
ludwig -
Monday evening on July 6 -

You are suffering you my dearest
creature - just now I notice
that letters must be posted
very early in the morning.
Mondays - Thursdays -
the only days on which
the mail goes from here
to K - you are suffering -Oh, wherever
I am, you are with me.
I say to myself and to you, arrange
that I can live with you.
what a life!!!! as it is!!!!
without you - Persecuted by
the kindness of people here
and there, which I think - I want
to deserve just as little
as I deserve it - Humility
of man to
man - it pains
me - and when I regard myself
in the framework
of the universe
what am I and what is
he - whom one
calls the Greatest -
and yet - herein is
again the divine spark
of man - I
weep when I think
that you will probably
not receive the first
news of me until
Saturday - as much as you
love me - I love you
even more deeply but - but
never hide yourself from

me - good night - as
one bathing I must go to
sleep o go with
go with
so near! so far! is
not our love a true
heavenly edifice -
but also firm, like
the firmament -
good morning on July 7 -
while still in bed thoughts
thrust themselves toward you my
eternally beloved
now and then happy
then again sad.
awaiting fate.
if it will grant us a favorable hearing -
I can only live either
wholly with you or not at all.
yes I have resolved
to stray about
in the distance, until I
can fly into your arms
and call myself
entirely at home with you.
can send my soul
embraced by you
into the realm of spirits -
yes unfortunately it must be - you
will compose yourself all the more
since you know my faithfulness
to you, never can another
own my heart,
never - never - O God why
have to separate oneself,
what one loves so, and yet my
life in V [ienna] as it is now is a
miserable life - Your
love makes me the most happy
and the most unhappy
at once - at my age I would
need some conformity
regularity of life - can

this exist in our
relationship? -- Angel, right now
I hear that the mail
goes every day -
and I must therefore
close, so that you
will receive the L [etter] immediately -
be calm, only through
quiet contemplation of our
existence can we
reach our goal
to live together -
be patient -love me -
today - yesterday -
What longing with
tears for you -
you - you my
love - my
all - fare-
well - o continue
to love me - never
misjudge the most faithful
heart of your
forever yours
forever mine
forever us 

(Translated text from Dominique Prevot's superb site.  

I'm not going to write more about the Immortal Beloved, there's plenty of material out there on it (including a fascinating and possibly libelous movie with Gary Oldman) but despite several biographer's attempts we may never know who she was, if she ever got this letter, or how she replied.  Yet he saved it till his dying day....

Monday, November 22, 2010

11/22 32 Variations (in C minor) on an Original Theme WoO.80

(A page from the 1st Edition of WoO 80)
When Beethoven performed live he is often described as being given a theme upon which he would improvise variations on for up to an hour.  Here he does 32 variations in about 10 minutes.  Much later he did 33 variations on a theme by Diabelli and more or less thrust piano music into the 21st century, but here it's a bit more show-offy - and maybe a bit more fun?
This is a performance by Ivan Moravec which I'm pretty fond of.  I annotated the variations with some assistance from Wikipedia...

32 Variations (in C minor) on an Original Theme WoO.80 (1806)

I posted a performance of Glenn Gould doing a somewhat more leisurely performance here.
Additional analysis here.
Wikipedia entry here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

11/21 Bernstein's Young Person's Concerts: "What is Classical Music?"

As I described in my post "a long time ago" about how I got into classical music (and Beethoven in particular), one of the most important people to help me along on my journey was Leonard Bernstein.  Composer, conductor, teacher, he was pretty damn great at all of those things.  If I had to choose who had the greatest contribution to the longevity of classical music - it would probably be Leonard Bernstein.  Fortunately many of his television programs are preserved on DVD.  These DVDs are probably available at your local library.  But if you want to just relax at home...well there's a pretty good selection online as well.  I've posted a few on the Daily Beethoven before in fact.  Here's another, one of the first episodes of Bernstein's Young People's Concerts - "What is Classical Music?".  It has a thrilling version of Beethoven's Egmont Overture at the end (Pt 6 and 7)....

The script (and musical content) for the entire show can be found here.
Anyways, enjoy Lenny and musical edutainment at its best!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

11/20 Violin Sonatas 5, 8 and 9 (Mutter/Orkis)

I posted Anne-Sophie Mutter's concert of the Violin Concerto with Karajan a while back.  Since she is doing a bunch of concerts here with the NY Philharmonic this season, I thought I'd dig up a few more of Ms. Mutter's great Beethoven performances.  Here she is with Lambert Orkis interpreting Violin Sonata No.8 in G, Op.30 No.3 (1802), Violin Sonata No.5 in F 'Spring', Op.24 (1801), and Violin Sonata No.9 in A, Op.47 'Kreutzer' (1803) (which I posted once before with Kremer/Argerich).
Violin Sonata 8 - Pt 1-3
Violin Sonata 5 - Pt 4-7
Violin Sonata 9 - Pt 8-12 (the Argerich/Kremer is faster, Orkis /Mutter is a bit more...tango-ish?)
Total Time 1:33

I think the only Violin Sonatas missing from here at this point are Nos 1-4, and 10.  Maybe next week?

UPDT: Sonatas 5 and 9 are deleted but you can still hear the works in my color analyses posts:
Sonata 5 "Spring"
Sonata 9 "Kreutzer"

Friday, November 19, 2010

11/19 Album Cover Time (No 3)

It's been awhile since I featured some classic cover art.  Back in the day, album covers had so much "pizzazz" - nowadays you usually get a big face on the cover, some 3rd rate computer graphic artwork, or a sexy woman.  These were from the days of vinyl yore....

Bruno Walter's series of the symphonies each featured some great designs
Steinberg and the 9 Small Thunderers.
Not sure what exactly is on the cover here, corn flakes? - but there sure are alot of them....
Puzzling, but seductive
Creepy and pastoral at the same time.
Quite fond of the "art nouveau" stylings - I only wish they had a put a cartoon version of Furtwangler instead of an old BW photo....
Then again you still have some like these below...are they selling Beethoven or a skin care lotion?
Beethoven looks a bit stiff here ;)
Prepare the coffee...
Art Toscanini and his 19 clones are coming over....

Previous album cover posts.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

11/18 Symphony No. 5, Pt 2 (Analysis, Järvi)

Kandinsky, "All Saints I"
Continued from yesterday, the conclusion to Beethoven's 5th Symphony with annotations....

Beethoven, Symphony 5 in C minor, op.67 (1808)
Movement III and IV

Movement III
Scherzo 1
-A - dark C minor ascending, descending phrase - open cadence
-B - "victory" 4-note motif returns from the 1st mvmt - open cadence
-A1 - same dark Cm phrase but in B flat
-B1 - 4-note victory motif modulates from C to F minor - open cadence
-A2 - some B elements hide in strings - Violins introduce a new spritely counter melody
-B2 - final dramatic Victory motif w closed cadence before Trio

-C - fast (comical?) C Major fugue figure starting in low strings
-D - stop-start variation
-C1 - additional strings rejoin the fray, followed by winds/horns
-D - stop-start repeated
-C2 - varying dynamics, eventually flutes lead downward disintegration

Scherzo 2
-A3 - dark yet light, into pizzicato strings
-B3 - Victory motif now tiptoed in shy winds, tiptoeing around the previously fanfarish theme - open cadence
-A4 - dark Cm theme in quiet mode w horn accents
-B4 - simplifying victory motif...leading to Deceptive Cadence

Transition to the Finale - heavy and dark w martial percussion

Movement IV - Finale - Allegro
-Theme 1
--Pt 1 - New Victory motif in C Major as trombones, piccolos and contrabassoons join in
--Pt 2 - vibrating strings vs massed horns and winds
--Modulating Bridge sneaks in
-Theme 2
--A - 4 note rising/falling motif - open cadence
-Cadence section
 -A, A1

Exposition Repeat

-Pt 1 - Modulation from previous phrase
-Pt 2 - Theme 2, fragmented and varied
-Pt 3 - 3-note motif in bass surfaces against Theme 2
-Pt 4 - new 4-note machine gun motif emerges in brass
-Pt 5 - Climax section with multiple layers
-Pt 6 - Sudden landing into tiptoe victory phrase in C minor from Movement 3

-Theme 1
--Pt 1 - back to C Major
--Pt 2 - as before
--Mod Bridge
-Theme 2
--A - rising/falling
-Cadence section first light, then bigger

-Pt 1 - Strings and winds vs ascending 3-note motif from development Pt 3
-Pt 2 - Drama increases into ending tutti?
-Pt 3 - No - motif from Theme 1 returns
-Pt 4 - rhythm becomes oddly accented on upbeats, accelerating polka
-Pt 5 - Presto - Fast version of cadence motif theme returns
-Pt 6 - Final fanfare of opening Victory motif
-Pt 7 - cadencing back and forth until the real ending tutti

(Analysed with some assistance from Robert Greenberg's Teaching Company Wordscore guide.)

Wow - it's not the most famous symphony of all time for nothing. Here's some other great sites devoted to the 5th Symphony....
And of course there's MAM:

Carlos Kleiber's CD recording of the 5th is largely considered the "best" - sadly the only live video I could find was this one - a staggering performance marred by some inept TV editing..but it's still interesting....

I recently rewatched my old analyses of Symphonies 1 and 2 and they are definitely showing their age (and my relative inexperience at the time with this Youtube annotation thing. I'm going to put off the 6th for awhile and possibly polish up the old ones...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

11/17 Symphony No. 5, Pt 1 (Analysis, Järvi)

(Kandinsky's St George and the Dragon)
Today and tomorrow I annotate the single most famous orchestral work since Star Wars.  :).  There are innumerable websites devoted to the 5th Symphony, I'll list a few tomorrow I guess.  Here's part 1 of my 2-part post covering all 4 movements...  Oh yeah, Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen are back with us for one more analysis!

Beethoven, Symphony 5 in C minor, op.67 (1808)
Movement I:  Allegro con brio

-Theme 1
--A - full motif statement open cadence
--A1 - sequenced variation
--Modulating Bridge leading to Open Cadence
-Theme 2 in Eb
-Cadence section
--Pt 1 - victorious
--Pt 2 - Theme 1 motif in winds ; closed cadence

Exposition Repeat

-Pt 1 - Theme 1 motif is transformed from victory to foreboding
-Pt 2 - orchestra builds into a dissonant climax
-Pt 3 - Theme 2 "horn calls in strings
-Pt 4 - more fragmentation of theme 2 - strings vs winds - the battle recedes...except for one last volley
-Pt 5 - retransition using Theme 1 motif of victory

-Theme 1
--open cadence leading to mournful oboe cadenza from out of nowhere
--A1 - building sequences
--Modulating Bridge ; open cadence
-Theme 2
--Pt 1 - Glorious with accents on upbeat
--Pt 2

--Pt 1 - anguished Theme 1 motif
--Pt 2 - Horn call motif low strings and bassoon
--Pt 3 - 2-note march motif
--Pt 4 - slamming chords, strings and winds battle again...fragmentation
--Pt 5 - Theme 1 motif returns in "suspended form"
--Pt 6 - RECAP #2 -A - Victory motif, tentatively, before a final tutti cadence

Movement II - Andante con moto

Statement of main formula
-A - lyric melody in Ab Major (dolce)
-Romance Cadence
-B - theme actually a variation of fragment of A
-B1 - grand version in C Major
-open cadence

Variation I (semi-Expo repeat)
-A1 - faster subdivided rhythm
-Romance cadence
-B2 - more intricate accompaniment
-B3 - grand variation
-open cadence

Variation II (Development)
-A2 - variation w 12 notes each bar
-A3 - winds add counter
-A4 - low strings pick up previous phrase -ascending scales lead to open cadence
-A5 - winds highlighted leading to modulating variations
-B4 - Grand theme in C Major returns 3rd time
-A6 - rustic variation

Variation III (Recapitulation)
-A7 - vibrating strings support lyric melody
-Romance Cadence
-A8 - Suddenly a jaunty variation interrupts the wind down
-Romance Cadence reasserts itself even more fervently
-Coda w lyric theme motifs (A9)

Movements 3 and 4 tomorrow......

(Analysed with the assistance of Robert Greenberg's Teaching Company Wordscore guide., The videos were originally uploaded to Youtube by Beethofan)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

11/16 Beethoven's Homework, Orchestrated

There are many "new" arrangements of Beethoven's music - from Gustav Mahler's arrangement of the Ode to Joy movement for 6 trombones (at the Klimt Secession show) to Franz Liszt's piano transcriptions of the 9 symphonies.  Of course in modern days there was a BeeGees arrangement of the 5th too...

Anyways I recently came across this fascinating item on a vinyl restoration blog: Alexander Brott's "Young Prometheus, Contrapunctal Studies of Beethoven, Transcribed and Arranged for Late 18th Century Orchestra". I'm pretty sure Beethoven never imagined in his wildest dreams that his homework with Albrechtsberger would get arranged for full orchestra, but there you have it. Actually I quite like it, it's a fascinating new look at some very obscure Beethoveniana....

Here's Prelude and Fugue in E minor  (originally for String Trio, Hess 29)
and here's Double Fugue with 3 subjects in F major  (Triple Fugue, Hess 244 nr. 2)
I haven't used Soundcloud for awhile because sometimes the widgets don't work - I hope they fixed the problem....

There's also quite alot of midi files of these counterpoint studies at the Unheard Beethoven.  Interesting stuff.

Monday, November 15, 2010

11/15 Among the Great Pianists of his Time

Daniel Steibelt
When Beethoven arrived in Vienna he first made a name for himself as a piano improvisor.  In those days it was customary for the royalty to be entertained by "duels" between competing pianists.  In a previous post I mentioned that Muzio Clementi duelled Mozart to a draw.  Beethoven was also subjected to this kind of expectation, and in the early days before he established his reputation, he was no stranger to public displays of piano mastery.  Here's the famous story of a rivalry with pianist virtuoso Daniel Steibelt.  From Ferdinand Ries:
When Steibelt (1765-1823), the famous piano virtuoso, came from Paris to Vienna, in all the glory of his fame, several of Beethoven's friends were afraid the latter's reputation would be injured by the newcomer.
Steibelt did not visit Beethoven; they met for the first time in the home of Count Fries, where Beethoven gave his new Trio in B-Hat major, Op. 11, for piano, clarinet and violoncello, its initial performance. It does not give the pianist much of an opportunity. Steibelt listened to it with a certain condescension, paid Beethoven a few compliments, and felt assured of his own victory. He played a quintet he had composed, and improvised; and his tremulandos, at that time an absolute novelty, made a great impression. Beethoven could not be induced to play again.
Eight days later there was another concert at Count Fries' home. Steibelt again played a quintet with much success, and played a brilliant fantasy based on a theme developed in the variations of Beethoven's trio. This roused the indignation of Beethoven and his admirers; he had to seat himself at the piano to improvise, which he did in his usual, I might say unmannerly fashion, flinging himself down at the instrument as though half-pushed. As he moved toward it he took up the violoncello part of Steibelt’s quintet, purposely put it on the piano-rack upside-down, and drummed out a theme from its first measures with his fingers. Then, now that he had been definitely insulted and enraged, Beethoven improvised in such a way that Steibelt left the room before he had concluded, refused ever to meet him again, and even made it a condition that Beethoven was not to be invited where his own company was desired.

In all fairness Steibelt's compositions are not half-bad.  He does sound like an ass though.  Then again...there's this story where Beethoven is being a bit obnoxious himself... Ries again, on Beethoven and Friedrich Heinrich Himmel, a famous pianist that Beethoven met in Berlin:
"One day when they were together, Himmel begged Beethoven to improvise; which Beethoven did. Afterwards Beethoven insisted that Himmel do the same. The latter was foolish enough to let himself be persuaded. After he had played for quite a long time Beethoven remarked: 'Well, when are you going to begin in earnest?' Himmel had flattered himself that he had already performed wonders; he jumped up and they both became offensive. Beethoven said to me: "I thought that Himmel had been only preluding a bit."
Friedrich Heinrich Himmel
"Afterwards they were reconciled, indeed, but Himnmel could only forgive, not forget. For awhile they exchanged letters until Himmel played Beethoven a shabby trick. The latter always wanted to know the news from Berlin. This bored Himmel, who at last wrote that the greatest news from Berlin was that a lamp for the blind had been invented. Beethoven ran about with the news and all the world wanted to know how this was possible. Thereupon he wrote to Himmel that he had blundered in not giving more explicit information. The answer which Beethoven received not only put an end to the correspondence but brought ridicule upon Beethoven, who was foolish enough to show it then and there."

Other great piano virtuosi of the day who knew Beethoven included Muzio Clementi, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Joseph Wölfl and Johann Baptist Cramer. What an exciting time it must have been...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

11/14 Violin Sonata 7 and 6 w Vengerov/Kavakos

Maxim Vengerov
Beethoven's Violin Sonata No 7 Opus 30, No 2 is not as famous as No. 9 "the Kreutzer" or No 5 "Spring" - but it has it's own sense of lyrical beauty.  In C minor (which means it's "serious") and written in his "heroic" period, it's contemporary with other works such as the "Tempest" and "Hunt" piano sonatas.  Below, parts 1 through 4 are Violin Sonata No 7 Opus 30, No 2 (1802)  with violinist Maxim Vengerov with Lilya Zilberstein in 2006, Moscow.  Part 5 through 7 are Violin Sonata 6 in A Op.30 No. 1 (1802) performed by Leonidas Kavakos and Enrico Pace...another great duo composition.

And here is the original manuscript for Violin Sonata 7 -   I can't get enough of these things!
Leonidas Kavakos

Saturday, November 13, 2010

11/13 String Trio 1 (Grumiaux Trio w Manuscript)

(Page 1 of String Trio 1)
Here's a video by a Beethoven fan after my own heart.  It features Beethoven's String Trio 1 in Eb major, Op.3 (1794?) with the music following the autograph manuscript of the score.  That sounds like something I'd like to do (except that I'm too lazy). This was a very early work and you can see that Beethoven's penmanship was still very neat at this stage. 

Arthur Grumiaux, violin
Georges Janzer, viola
Eva Czako, cello
You can download the autograph score here as well.
Make the picture fullscreen to make it easier to see the score and follow along..
In 6 movements spread over 5 parts :


Friday, November 12, 2010

11/12 The Changing Face of Beethoven

What did Beethoven actually look like over the years?  Most researchers look to portraits and busts made by B.'s contemporaries.  Fortunately he was famous enough even in his youth that many likenesses were attempted.  Here's a few which are supposedly "pretty close".  (I did some photo manipulation to make the poses as similar as possible to make the "evolution" easier to follow.....)

Age 32
Horneman portrait 1803 - Beethoven gave this as a gift to his friend Stephen von Breuning.

Age 34
The Mahler portrait (1804-5) : Beethoven kept this portrait in his possessions the rest of his life and lent it out to female fans....
Age 38
This is a personal favorite, obviously....  done by Ludwig Schnorr in 1809 - "very faithful" according to HC Robbins, latter-day biographer....

While at the Pasqualati House in Vienna I had the great opportunity to take photographs of the Streicher bust of Beethoven made from a mold of his actual face in 1812.  With some digital manipulation I tried to make them look like possible portraits for comparison:

Age 41
That's with 30 minutes and some free photo software.  Surely Madame Tussaud could come up with an incredible likeness!

Age 43
From 1814 here's an engraving by Hofel from a drawing by Letronne - which B also gave out to his friends.

Age 47
This one above is from 1818, by Schimon.  It's a portrait which I personally can't get behind, but Schindler (Beethoven's friend/secretary) said was quite full of characteristic truth.

Age 49
The Stieler 1819-20 portrait is also praised by Schindler (Schindler reports that B looked very different from the previous year due to an illness).  Nonetheless B. sat 3 times for this porttrait.
Age 52
Finally here's the Waldmuller portrait of 1823 - considered by Schindler to be "off" - yet Waldmuller had the best reputation of all artists to portray B.

It's amazing how Beethoven looks so different from painting to painting (there are a dozen more which are considered "inaccurate").  In the final analysis, the Klein/Streicher bust made from an actual mold of Beethoven's face has to be the most objective and is a real favorite of mine.