Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/31 Beethoven's Ghost Trio

Surely more "Ghostly" than "Pastoral"?
Beethoven's 5th Piano Trio in D, Op.70 Nº 1 (1808) is nicknamed the "Ghost Trio" because the 2nd movement has a theme that was originally written as background music for Shakespeare's Macbeth.  I always think of Beethoven's stage music as his version of film music.  Today Jerry Goldsmith scores "Poltergeist", yesterday Beethoven scored "Macbeth".  It's a beautiful and evocative 2nd movement.  However, I love the opening movement as well, it's as forward-looking as the 'ghost music'...Here's a "play by play" with timings derived from the Alan Rich book.  (Oh yeah, the manuscript page on the header of this blog is from this piano trio.)

Piano Trio in D, Op.70 Nº 1: 1st Movement, Allegro Vivace e con Brio
(Beaux Arts Trio)

Alternate Youtube Link

Go HERE for the 2nd and 3rd movements.

Monday, August 30, 2010

8/30 Beethoven 2009 Stats

cultural relevance acid test

Here's an interesting list of the most performed Beethoven compostions in 2009 as tracked by Instant Encore:

   Work                                                                           Number of Performances
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92
155
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67
150
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58
143
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37
121
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 'Eroica'
120
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral'
118
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 'Emperor'
105
Variations (33) for Piano on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major, Op. 120
98
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93
86
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 'Pastoral'
82
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61
78
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60
75
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15
66
Egmont, Op. 84
63
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36
63
Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62
62
Symphony no 1 in C major, Op. 21
62
Fidelio, Op. 72
59
Leonore Overture no 3 in C major, Op. 72a
50
Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43
49
Quartet for Strings no 7 in F major, Op. 59 no 1 'Razumovsky'
46

That's alot of concerts!  And every 4 days or so the "Diabelli Variations" were performed - I'm amazed that work got a higher number of performances than any of the piano sonatas!  Still a popular hit.  And just about every piece above was performed at least one a week. Who says classical music is dead?

Diabelli Variations not included
For a listing of the most popular upcoming Beethoven concerts check out Instant Encore's list here:
Beethoven: Upcoming performances
Looks like the 9th is getting back up there...but only 2 upcoming performances of the Hammerklavier?!  I have to start practicing....

In case you are not familiar with Instant Encore, it's a great site which tracks classical music performances around the world and includes streaming recordings of recent performances.  You can actually listen to Alan Gilbert's recently conducted "Missa Solemnis" with the New York Philharmonic - in its entirety!  (I was there - it was fantastic.)  It also acts as a news/video hub, a blog directory for all things classical and alerts you to all classical concerts in your geographic area.  If you become a free member, you can get a daily email with news about whichever artists you choose when you set up the service.  Definitely worth checking out. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

8/29 Barenboim on Beethoven

Recently Daniel Barenboim performed all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in Berlin and they were all recorded for DVD. In addition to that, he recorded several "masterclasses" in Chicago where he would coach some famous young pianists of today, such as Lang Lang and Jonathan Biss. Here's a good chunk of his masterclass.  He coaches Alessio Bax on the Hammerklavier in vids 11-17.  Personally, Barenboim is not one of my favorite Beethoven interpreters, but what he has to say in these classes is still pretty illuminating...(though when Lang Lang performs here I find it best to close my eyes, not sure why).

Playlist (123 min)
Group A (80 min):
Pt 1-5: Lang Lang & Piano Sonata #23 In Fm, Op.57, "Appassionata" I. Allegro Assai
Pt 6: David Kadouch & Piano Sonata #16 In G, Op.31, No.1, I. Allegro Vivace
Pt 7-10: Jonathan Biss & Piano Sonata #30 In E, Op.109, III. Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo

Group B (43 min):
Pt 11-17: Alessio Bax & Piano Sonata #29 In Bb, Op.106, "Hammerklavier" IV. Largo, Allegro Risoluto

An alternative Playlist for Bax and Lang sets (100 min)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

8/28 Saturday Morning Cartoon Time

Here's a short Beethoven-related animation feature:
Beethoven: Animated Hero Classics (~30 min)


Linklist

And of course there's the 6th Symphony (Pastoral) in
Disney's "Fantasia":



Not sure what this is, though...
Beethoven "Edu-manga" comic book

Friday, August 27, 2010

8/27 Some Letters from Beethoven

Some select missives from the Maestro...
From

Letter 41.TO HERR MEYER.    1805.

DEAR MEYER,--

Pray try to persuade Herr v. Seyfried to direct my Opera, as I wish on this occasion to see and hear it myself from a distance; in this way my patience will at all events not be so severely tried as when I am close enough to hear my music so bungled. I really do believe that it is done on purpose to annoy me! I will say nothing of the wind-instruments; but all pp.'s, cresc., discresc., and all f.'s and ff.'s may as well be struck out of my Opera, for no attention whatever is paid to them. I shall lose all pleasure in composing anything in future, if I am to hear it given thus. To-morrow or the day after I will come to fetch you to dinner. To-day I am again unwell.
Your friend,
BEETHOVEN.

If the Opera is to be performed the day after to-morrow, there must be another private rehearsal to-morrow, or each time it will be given worse and worse.

Meyer, the husband of Mozart's eldest sister-in-law, Josepha (Hofer's widow), sang the part of Pizarro at the first performance of Fidelio, Nov. 20, 1805, and also at a later period. Seyfried was at that time Kapellmeister at the Theatre "an der Wien."


"X" brought the Trio in C minor (Op. 1, No. 3) to show to Beethoven, having arranged it as a quintet for stringed instruments (published by Artaria as Op. 104). Beethoven evidently discovered a good many faults in the work; still, the undertaking had sufficient attractions to induce him to correct it himself, and to make many changes in it. A very different score was thus of course produced from that of "X", on the cover of whose work the genial master, in a fit of good humor, inscribed with his own hand the following title:--

A Terzet arranged as a Quintet,
by Mr. Well-meaning,

translated from the semblance into the reality of five parts, and exalted from the depths of wretchedness to a certain degree of excellence,

by Mr. Goodwill.
Vienna, Aug. 14, 1817.

N.B. The original three-part score of the Quintet has been sacrificed as a solemn burnt-offering to the subterranean gods.



Letter 325.TO SCHINDLER.

--Inquire of that arch-churl Diabelli when the French copy of the Sonata in C minor [Op. 111] is to be published. I stipulated to have five copies for myself, one of which is to be on fine paper, for the Cardinal [the Archduke Rudolph]. If he attempts any of his usual impertinence on this subject, I will sing him in person a bass aria in his warehouse which shall cause it and all the street (Graben) to ring!

Schindler relates that Diabelli had refused to let Beethoven again have the MS. of the Sonata, which he had repeatedly sent for when in the hands of the engraver, in order to correct and improve it. Diabelli therefore coolly submitted to all this abuse of the enraged composer, and wrote to him that he would note down the threatened bass aria, and publish it, but would give him the usual gratuity for it, and that Beethoven had better come to see him. On this Beethoven said no more.


Letter 343.TO SCHINDLER.    Hetzendorf, 1823.

SAMOTHRACIAN VAGABOND!--

You were dispatched yesterday to the South Pole, whereas we went off to the North Pole, a slight difference now equalized by Captain Parry. There were, however, no mashed potatoes there.
--
Your Friend Amicus,
BEETHOVEN.

He no doubt alludes to Captain Parry, the celebrated traveller, who wrote an article in the A.M. Zeitung on the music of the Esquimaux.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

8/26 String Quartet Opus 131 Finale

Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 131 Finale Analysis
This quartet finale is exciting as heck, which is why I wanted to analyze it.  Little did I know that the intrinsic substance of this movement is intimately tied to most of the preceding movements in this string quartet.  So I guess this will be like a movie review with just the spoilers.  Damn you Louis!

Performed by the Guarneri Qrtt
Alternate Youtube link
Notes:  My analysis is helped greatly by Donald Francis Tovey's analysis.  
A1 is called Anapaeste bcause the rhythm of the first figure is similar to "an-a-paeste".  The Scissor theme is a 2-accent figure, like the sound scissors make.  The 2nd theme (Sweetness) is in the relative major instead of the dominant.  The Development features explicit references to elements found in the preceeding movements of this quartet, such as the earlier fugue movement.  The "vibrations" at the end of C2 echo a few measures into the Recap.  In the Recap the Sweetness theme is in the flat supertonic, which mirrors the first movement's harmonic motion.  It's also twice as long, despite the Anapaeste motif trying to disperse it.  The Coda seems to me to be almost a 2nd development section, but Tovey calls it a Coda;  I compromise and call it a 2nd recap.

Comments by Guarneri Quartet:
Soyer: It's savage - utterly savage - the culmination of the entire work.
Dalley: Grotesque and wild!  It has invincible energy.
Tree: A relentles dance, a demonic dance - and yet, what wonderfully tender moments, what an enormous emotional range!
Steinhardt: He's shaking his fist at destiny. It's terrifying - but suddenly everything is released and it overflows with joy, with ecstacy.
Dalley: You want to bark like a dog.
 Manuscript Sketch Images from http://www.rism.org.uk/

Here are some other analyses to compare:
Lewis Lockwood's book
Barbara Barry's book.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

8/25 Toscanini's Beethoven

Arturo Toscanini is probably my favorite Beethoven conductor. His interpretations are razor-sharp and leave no room for sloppiness. In fact he used to throw chairs at sloppy wind players. This of course was in the old days before they had lawyers. Toscanini recorded with the NY Phil and then later on with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which was created just for his use. Even though he is known for being faithful to the score, he was not above changing the orchestration to suit modern orchestras. He revered Beethoven. I think he just got angry at people for ruining the music when they played badly. He was equally punishing towards himself when he realized that he had misinterpreted something.
Musically, Toscanini's interpretations are as fast in tempo as the smaller period orchestras of today - except that he used a full orchestra.  Must be the hat. 

Anyways, here's a taste smorgasboard of Toscanini:

Beethoven 5th Symphony (Toscanini 1952, NBC Orchestra)

Linklist

Beethoven 9th Symphony (Toscanini 1949, NBC Orchestra)

Linklist

Finally, a couple links for more info on the Maestro:

Toscanini's Homepage - Loads of info - you can even ask a relative a question if you'd like!

A survey of the Maestro's career and recordings - Incredible overview of Toscanini recordings and extremely informative site in general.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

8/24 The "Moonlight" Piano Sonata

Whenever I hear the words "Moonlight Sonata" I always initially think of the slow and hypnotic 1st Movement.  However the first time I heard the piece in its entirety, I was pretty floored by the churning 3rd Movement.  Did the moon suddenly hop onto a bullet train?  What made this first listening experience even more jarring was the fact that it was a computer version using synthesizer tones from 1982!

Here's my annotated version of the 3rd Movement Presto Agitato (played decidedly less mechanically by Alfred Brendel):

Alternate Youtube link
Timings from "Play by Play" (Rich)

Even tho this finale is quite the show-stopper, I still love the "neo-minimalist" nature of the 1st Movement Adagio Sostenuto.  Here's a detailed analysis of it in an online book by Neil Miller:


Finally, below you will find a whole site devoted to analyzing this one sonata - well done!

Monday, August 23, 2010

8/23 Beethoven at 78 (rpm)

Having only started seriously listening to Beethoven's works in the last couple years, it seems strange to hear historical recordings from the pre-CD/pre-LP era.  His music is so contemporary that it never seems to be 200 years old.  My cassette tapes of Creedence Clearwater Revival seem far more old-fashioned (just kidding, I don't have any such tapes).  Yet when phonographs were first invented Beethoven was already a real "oldie".  The nice thing about that is that these recordings are free to download and listen to from the internet.  Some of these recordings include performances by luminaries such as Heifetz, Toscanini and Glenn Gould.

The Internet Archive aka "The Wayback Machine"
The Wayback Machine stores a backup copy of the internet.  Very useful for when you get that ol' "404" error.  But the other use for it is that people legally upload documents, video and audio for archival purposes.  It's a kind of digital preservation society.  And there is a good selection of Beethoven saved there.  Clicking the links below will get you started:
Schnabel
Toscanini
Stokowski
Violin Music
Symphony
Piano
String Quartet

CHARM: The AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music.
CHARM has a massive archive of recordings from 1915 to 1952.  It can be organized easily by Composer, Conductor, Artist Title or Year of Recording.
For Composer select B, then pull down the slider and click on Beethoven (224 tracks).  In the Artist column you will see all the performers.  You can choose a Year as well.
Once you click on Beethoven you will see all the music below.  You can instantly play the piece by clicking on the "play" button (sometimes twice is necessary).  Or you can download it to your computer.
I wish I could provide direct links to some interesting finds but unfortunately I can't figure out how, so just play around, you never know what you may find...
Here I found Ravel conducting Bolero himself...
Enjoy listening to a blast from the past-present!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

8/22 Cecil Lytle on Piano Sonata No. 1

Here is a fine lecture/concert program with Cecil Lytle: "The Nature of Genius: Beethoven and the Sonata Form" (57 min), discussing Beethoven's 1st piano sonata, Op2, No 1, and then performing all 4 movements.  There is a good Q and A afterwards.  Good stuff and an enthusiastic speaker.


Apparently after this program was over, he then continued talking about Opus 111 - I really wish they would have filmed that too!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

8/21 The Genius of Beethoven (2005 TV Mini)

Paul Rhys as Beethoven
Here's a fantastic BBC-produced 3 episode dramatization/documentary of Beethoven's life as narrated by Charles Hazlewood and portrayed by Paul Rhys.  Absolutely entertaining and informative.  Recommended!

The Genius of Beethoven(IMDB)

1st Episode : The Rebel

Link


2nd Episode : Love and Loss

Link


3rd Episode : Faith and Fury

Link

Alternate Youtube Linklist

Friday, August 20, 2010

8/20 Copyist Problems

Cello Sonata Opus 69?
Beethoven had some problems with copyists after his longtime copyist Wenzel Schlemmer died.

Here's a letter from a certain Ferdinand Wolanek:

Beethoven's reply: a big X and...

The original document has a bit more flair to it tho:
Text from "Letters to Beethoven and Other Correspondence: 1824-1828 by Theodore Albrecht"


By the way, the page at the top (Cello Sonata Opus 69) is not the score in question.   It was probably the finale to the 9th Symphony which you can see here.

"Alle Menschen werden Brüder"....indeed.

Also of course, there's the movie "Copying Beethoven" which looks so awful I haven't been able to bring myself to rent it.

==============================================================================
An Amazon Review:  "This CD was supposed to be soft, easy music that would help you go to sleep. I did go to sleep almost immediately but not because of the music--I was just very tired. However, the music actually woke me up a couple of times when it got just a little louder. Maybe it's me, but I didn't find this product to do as promised." 


lol.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

8/19 M.A.M. : Grosse Fugue Guitar Movie

I think of a Beethoven piece like a little journey.  Not very different from a movie of sorts, or a book.  That's one of the reasons I love Stephen Malinowski's Music Animation Machine (MAM Player).  Basically this is a piece of software which can play a MIDI file and produce a meaningful movie visualization of the music.  That iTunes/Windows Media visualizer?  Now obsolete.  I've been mesmerized by them sure, but ultimately they are completely useless when it comes to actually conveying any visual information with musical meaning.  The MAM player actually charts the movement and duration of MIDI pitches and durations in real-time.  It can also be set to visualize interval relationships and tonality!  Somewhat.  A (moving) picture is worth a thousand words so check out the Blogger video I made below...
video
In this video I loaded Bunji Hisamori's MIDI file of Piano Sonata 7 Mvment 1 into the MAM Player and set the display to "Part Motion BALLS".  I screen captured it using CamStudio but it's actually much smoother in its original form.  Anyways this animation looks like something that would result if Klee, Kandinsky and Beethoven got together to make a music video.  Each color represents a melodic line and each sphere represents the duration of a note.  There are about a dozen other display modes but this one is the most meaningful for me.
 
Grosse Fuge-ed Guitar Parts
OK now I combine the MIDI re-arranging abilities of Anvil Studio and the animation of the M.A.M. and you can get this bit of fun...("it might get loud")
(MIDI voices changed to 2 gtrs and 2 dbl basses)

MIDI sequenced by F. Sung,
Edited with Anvil Studio, CamStudio, Virtualdub, Adobe Audition





STRING QUARTET Op.133 "Grosse Fuge" (1826) 
("Guitar Version")


Listen to this 10 times in a row and you will either add 20 points to your IQ or go insane. Or perhaps both...

(Stephen Malinowski, the author of the MAM did a superb version with a real recording here.  No guitars though.)

Here's one more, to display the inverted color feature.  Not the best-sounding synth samples, sorry...
The Cello Sonata Opus 102.1, Mvment 4 (set to inverted colors)
video
Alternate Youtube Link

So here's this great free program where you can make your own instant Beethoven music videos!

Get MAM player here
Get MIDI files here. 

Also you may want to read my previous MIDI post which has many more MIDI links and info.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

8/18 Some Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycles

It's been said that J.S. Bach wrote the "Old Testament" with the Well-Tempered Clavier, and Beethoven wrote the "New Testament" with his 32 Piano Sonatas. If you listen to Beethoven's first sonata, Op. 2.1 (1795) and then to his last sonata, Op. 111 (1822), it's pretty clear that music has travelled from an era of aristocratic delicacy and wit to a modern age of comedy, tragedy, triumph and tranquillity. This volcanic evolution of musical conception (not to mention evolution of the piano itself) is one of the reasons why it is difficult to chose a “greatest” interpretation.  However I’ll list a few that have stood the test of time on my iPod…

Friedrich Gulda has recorded the 32 sonatas three times, the last of which (1967) on the Amadeo label is my favorite. Gulda plays with incredible fleetness, so much so that his scalar runs sound almost unearthly. His tempos are easily among (if not) the fastest of all interpreters, yet I never get the feeling that he is rushing or skimming over the music. For sheer wind-in-your-face brio this is my favorite set.  He went on to have a (temporary) jazz career, so maybe that can give you an idea of his intentions....
Gulda/Beethoven on Youtube


Eric Heidsieck is not nearly as well known as he should be. I have no idea why he never got a disc in the Philips “Great Pianists of the 20th Century” set. Nonetheless, his Beethoven is fresh and inventive. I suppose some would say too inventive, since he tends to use quite a lot of rubato (in the true sense of the word: stealing time, not slowing it) and his fermatas seem to have an extra glow around them. Nonetheless every note sounds well thought out and played with conviction. Exciting and unpredictable without being show-offy.
Heidsieck / Beethoven on Youtube


Annie Fischer’s Beethoven cycle was not released in her lifetime. She was never satisfied with her studio recordings, and spent years doing retakes, sometimes section by section. Yet the posthumous release of her studio Beethoven cycle is the most organic of all, in my opinion. Her dynamics are just right, sforzandi are never taken for granted, yet they never sound bangy. Her tempos are not the fastest, but the notes still sparkle. It’s been said that in live performance she might have missed a note here or there, but the soulfulness of her playing completely sweeps away any technical smudges. My over-all favorite set.
Fischer/Beethoven on Youtube

Sviatoslav Richter is my favorite pianist (this month!) but unfortunately he did not perform or record all 32 of Beethoven’s sonatas. However of the ones he did perform (about 22) each one is highly personalized and some seem almost too intense for even a modern piano to bear. Additionally his interpretations evolved over his 60 year playing career. His adagios make time stand still. My only issue with his Beethoven is that sometimes I think I hear too much “Slava”, and not enough “Louis”, but if you like Richter then it’s quite a win-win.
Richter/Beethoven on Youtube


Bruno-Leonardo Gelber is another pianist who is strangely missing from the Philips set. His Beethoven set is somewhere between Gulda and Richter - very dynamic, highly skilled interpretations. His accelerandos are galvanizing.
Gelber/Beethoven on Youtube



Finally I have to mention Paul Badura-Skoda’s set (Astrée) on 7 different fortepianos, each one contemporary to the sonata being performed. These are pianos which Beethoven himself might have performed and written these pieces with. His performances are lively and yet respectful. I think the early sonatas are more lively and the later sonatas more respectful (which I think works very well). A must-have if you can find it. There are other more current period cycles out there, but Mr. Badura-Skoda’s set sounds the most like I have travelled back in time to Beethoven's flat.
Badura-Skoda/Beethoven on Youtube

 
There are many more great cycles I haven't mentioned, including the great historical recordings of Artur Schnabel, the first person to record all 32 sonatas, but...here's plenty more opinions below...

Beethoven Piano Sonatas: An Overview of Selected Recordings (Ron Drummond, 1996)

A Collection of review threads written by "Todd A" on the Naim Audio Forum:
Anderszewski, Angelich, Ashkenazy, Backhaus, Badura-Skoda, Barenboim (EMI), DVD, Biss, Brautigam, Brendel, Ciani, Freire, Gulda, vol 2, Joyce Hatto (or rather John O'Conor, whose recordings they stole and altered), Heidsieck, Hewitt, vol 2, Kodama, Kovacevich, Kuerti, vol 2, Paul Lewis, Vol. 2, Lipkin, Lucchesini, Nakamichi, vol 2, Nat, O'Conor, Øland, Kun-Woo Paik, vol 2, Perl, Pludermacher, Riefling, Schiff, vol 2, vol 3, Sheppard, Sherman, Silverman, Uchida and Yokoyama).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

8/17 String Quartet Op.59/1 "Razumovsky"

String Quartet No.7, Opus 59, No. 1, Movement 1

In order to make up for a lack of posts on Beethoven string quartet analyses on this blog I'm going to post another.  This, the 1st movement of String Quartet 7, Opus 59 No. 1 (for Count Razumovsky), was my first "favorite" string quartet of B's.  It starts with the melody in the cello, which gives it a very "modern" feel to it, almost orchestral.  And just like the "Waldstein" piano sonata, it has a driving 8th-note figure right from the start, and proceeds through a head-spinning series of motivic gyrations.  Here I will outline the structure somewhat.  I find "signposts" make listening to Beethoven's quartets a bit easier to follow.

Exposition Phase:
  • A1 - (ms. 1-19 Theme A part 1) Main theme, 2nd inversion tonic
  • A2 - (ms. 19-29, Theme A part 2) Decisive tonic arrives (F), derived from main theme
  • T1 - (ms. 30-47, Transition part 1) Legato figures signal change
  • T2 - (ms. 48-59, Transition part 2) Going to V of V
  • B1 - (ms. 60-70, Theme B part 1) Sub theme in dominant (C)
  • B2 - (ms. 71-84, Theme B part 2) Triplets
  • B3 - (ms. 85-90, Theme B part 3) Attacking half-note block chords
  • C - (ms. 91-102, Theme C) Contains elements of main theme and sub theme
Development Phase:
  • D - (ms. 103-111) Variation of main theme
  • E - (ms. 112-125) Modulate to Bb
  • F - (ms. 126-143) More modulating using dim 7th harmonies
  • G - (ms. 144-151) Modulating half note chords
  • H - (ms. 152-184) Motivic variations
  • I - (ms. 185-221) Fugato in Ebm - Fm
  • J - (ms. 222-242) Transition back to recap with triplets
Recapitulation Phase:
  • K - (A2) (ms. 242-279, Theme A part 2) Recap starts with first derivation, not A1.
  • T1 - (ms. 279-294, Transition part 1)
  • T2 - (ms. 295-306, Transition part 2)
  • B1 - (ms. 307-331, Theme B part 1) denser texture than expo
  • B3 - (ms. 332-337, Theme B part 3)
  • C - (ms. 338-367, Theme C) Forceful restatement of main theme in variation
  • Coda:    (ms. 368-400) Pitch register explodes to 5 octaves

Notice that in the recap K, the A1/A2 themes are reversed.  Or you could say the recap starts with A1 and skips A2, either way it's pretty witty and wacky.  Follow this amazingly unpredictable yet completely organic journey below as performed by the Emerson String Quartet:

Alternate Youtube Link

The above structure is somewhat cribbed from Lewis Lockwood's analysis in Inside Beethoven's Quartets: History, Performance, Interpretation. A bit pricey but it comes with a bonus CD. Lockwood interviews the Juilliard Qrtt about B's quartets.

Monday, August 16, 2010

8/16 The 9th Symphony Autograph Manuscript

Beethoven is notorious for his atrocious musical handwriting.  I feel sorry for his copyists.  No doubt he could have saved some broken families if he'd had access to Finale back then.  Even now that we have sound recordings of all his music, it is still no easy task to follow his scores.  Nonetheless they are fascinating to look at for many reasons, not least of which is to show how much care went into his compositions.  His manuscript scores are riddled with cross-outs and corrections, yet these are supposed to be "final drafts".  For example here is arguably his greatest composition, the 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy, etc...).  Riddled!


1st Movement Page 1, and some others:

2nd Movement Page 1:
3rd Movement Page 1:
4th Movement Page 1:
Oh Friends!:
Whew.  Kind of like the tablets the 10 Commandments were written on for a Beethoven fan like me...  You can see the ENTIRE 9th Symphony autograph manuscript at the below link from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (where the above pages are from).

Note: blättern means "next page".  You can jump from movement to movement with the drop-down menu top left.

There are many articles on the 9th but this one by Daniel Felsenfeld (Rebel Music) certainly resonated with me.