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.


  1. I think the first variation on 'A Madel, ja a Madel', op. 107 N. 5, is very jazzy too...

    I've always thought that the middle part (in C minor) of the rondo of Piano Concerto 1 had something Brazilian. Maybe you're right, and Beethoven had in mind ragtime rather than samba ;)

  2. wow - you're right "anonymous" - the 1st variation IS quite jazzy - thanks!

    (1st var at 1 minute mark)