Monday, January 31, 2011

1/31 Beethoven 4-Hands Arrangements

Beethoven's 9 symphonies all have had alternate arrangements made for each of them, most famously the arrangements for solo piano by Franz Liszt. For non-virtuosos, arrangements for piano 4-hands also exist, and some were even published during B.'s lifetime. For some reason I never come across recordings of these 4-hand arrangements, maybe because they are "too easy". Nonetheless I've always been curious and I found a few "amateur" vids on Youtube, among them this one:

A couple more can be found here, here and here.

The most interesting renditions of the symphonies for 4-hands that I found belong to "AeolianHall1's" recordings of player-piano rolls. Here are a few Beethoven 4-hands arrangements encoded on paper rolls:
1. Symphony 3, 4th Movement
2. Symphony 6, 1st Movement
3. Symphony 7, 2nd Movement

Though not a Beethoven piece, I have to include this gem:
"Danse Macabre" by Saint-Saens arr. by Liszt played by Vladimir Horowitz
I love these annotations and pictures...well done.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1/30 Beethoven's Piano Concertos 3 & 5 with Gulda & Pollini

George Szell, Baton-naire.
Today I'm featuring a couple of Beethoven's piano concertos: The 5th, his final and possibly grandest concerto, and the 3rd, in his C minor "heroic/tragic" mode.

From the very first tutti of the 5th Piano Concerto it feels like the heavens are opening up....  This was the only piano concerto that Beethoven didn't premiere himself - sadly his hearing had deteriorated too much by this time... Fortunately piano-genius Friedrich Gulda is here to help us muddle through instead with his friend George Szell (no slouch in the musical muscles department either):

Wiener Festwochen 1966 -
Friedrich Gulda, Piano
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
George Szell, Conductor
Musikvereinssaal Wien, 5. Juni 1966
Beethoven, Piano Concerto 5 "Emperor" Op.73
41 minutes

Sadly the video is not embeddable in the blog page, but click HERE and you should be able to watch the full concert.

OR you can watch Gulda perform AND conduct it HERE at "Classical TV":
"Austrian Piano virtuoso Friedrich Gulda, plays Beethoven's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in E flat Op. 73 (Emperor) with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, which he also conducts."
I don't like to embed their videos because everytime the page loads the "logo" theme comes up - Ack!  Another great concert tho with a somewhat more "unbuttoned" Gulda.

(HERE's a previous post on the 5th Piano Concerto with Annie Fischer on the ivories.)

An earlier work is the 3rd Piano Concerto.  This one seems to get less exposure than the others for some reason.  However some say that it heralds Beethoven's break from the more classical stylings of Mozart and Haydn and signals the beginning of his mature "heroic" period.  Karl Böhm conducts and I featured some rehearsal footage of Maestro Böhm here in the past.
I couldn't figure out how to embed this one on the blog either - so I might as include it in today's "no-hitter"...
Karl Böhm, Baton-sensei
Piano Concerto 3 in C minor, Op. 37 (1800)
Karl Böhm, 1978, probably Vienna Philharmonic
Piano: Maurizio Pollini

Karl Böhm Conducts Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1/29 Triple Concertos on Historical Instruments, Historical Masters

Here's a great concert featuring conductor Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century (Orkest van de Achttiende Eeuw). Maestro Brüggen and the O.18thC. are one of the most most famous of the "early music groups" - that is, they play period instruments in the "historically-informed" style in search of the most authentic music performance practice possible. This usually means a "grittier" sound and less orchestra members. Personally, I'm a big fan of some of these groups...

Amsterdam Cellobiennale, 10.11.6, with Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century, All Beethoven Program

Part 1: 12 Minuets, WoO.7 (1795)

Part 2: Triple Concerto in C, Opus 56

Jean-Guihen Queyras: Cello
Isabelle Faust: Violin
Kristian Bezuidenhout: Piano

I also just came across a performance of the Triple Concerto by some old masters by the names of Richter, Oistrakh, Rostropovich and Kirill Kondrashin.  The first 3 of course are no strangers to the Daily Beethoven.  So you KNOW this will be good (despite the 'archival' nature of the sound fidelity...).  There exists a studio recording of this group with Kondrashin switched out for "Herb" von Karajan (which Richter later said he hated) so maybe this is the one to own...
Mstislav Rostropovich: Cello
David Oistrakh: Violin
Sviatoslav Richter: Piano
Kirill Kondrashin: Conductor


Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28 Beethoven's Full Monty (Python)

Myna Bird
It's Friday, which means time for some light's a pretty humorous set of variations on "Happy Birthday" based on various themes by Beethoven, including Moonlight, Pathetique, etc...
Uploaded to Youtube by davidhertzberg:
In this Columbia Masterworks recording released in 1970, the American concert pianist and composer Leonid Hambro (1920 - 2006) performs his composition, "Happy Birthday Dear Ludwig," a set of piano variations in the style of Beethoven on the tune "Happy Birthday." Woven into the variations are Beethoven's Bagatelle, Op. 119, the Minuet in G, the Pathetique and Moonlight Sonatas, Fur Elise and the theme of the first movement of Symphony No. 5. I created this music video from the LP, "Happy Birthday Ludwig," serial number MS 7406, shown above. The video opens with images from the LP jacket.  This LP was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's birth (1770). It is a compilation of recordings of Beethoven's works, featuring artists such as Hambro, Rudolf Serkin, Glenn Gould, Philippe Entremont, Leonard Bernstein and Eugene Ormandy, issued previously on the Columbia label. So that there is no question in the mind of the listener, I rely principally on images of the LP and LP jacket in order to document the authenticity of historically important recordings such as these. All selections on this LP, with one exception (the first track on side 2) are in the public domain.

Dudley Moore did a similar thing with the theme from "Bridge over the River Kwai" -
Uploaded by jondinerstein:
In this clip from the 1950's-60s British comedy group "Beyond the Fringe," Dudley Moore plays a very funny but also very musically well-done parody of a Beethoven Piano Sonata, using the famous whistling tune from "Bridge Over the River Kwai" as a thematic subject.

Since this post is kind of in a "humor mode" I might as well add Monty Python's Beethoven sketch...
Transcript HERE.

Lately I've been coming across so many "longer features" that it's hard to just reserve them for the weekend posts, so maybe some will get out early...

Have you read that book "Beethoven's Hair" by Russell Martin? Personally I haven't, tho I hear it's pretty good. Here's a talk on C-Span about it from 2000. Let me know if it's any good...
Beethoven's Hair discussion

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1/27 Beethoven's Sonata 'Pathetique' (Color Analysis)

I've posted about the Pathetique sonata before (1st Movement in somewhat more detail) but this time I'm trying a color analysis again - I'm getting kind of fond of these kinds of breakdowns (originally from Alan Rich's Play by Play).

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique", (1798)
Piano - Alfred Brendel
0:00 - 1. Grave, Allegro Di Molto E Con Brio
9:41 - 2. Adagio Cantabile
15:07 - 3. Rondo: Allegro

CHANNEL LINK: Click here to see this video on my YouTube Channel. Once there, click on "...(more info)" to scroll through the text description while the video stays in place.

1st Movement - Grave, Allegro di molto e con brio
Introduction (LIGHT GREEN)
-1st Theme (MAROON)
-2nd Theme (BROWN)
-3rd Theme (GREEN)
Exposition (Repeat)
-1st Theme (MAROON)
-2nd Theme (BROWN)
-3rd Theme (GREEN)
-Introduction reprise (LIGHT GREEN)
-1st Theme (BLUE)
Publish Post
-1st Theme (MAROON)
-2nd Theme (BROWN)
-3rd Theme (GREEN)

2nd Movement - Adagio cantabile (starting at 9:41)
1st Theme (MAROON)
2nd Theme (BLUE)
1st Theme (MAROON)
3rd Theme (GREEN)
1st Theme Variation (MAROON 2)
Coda (OLIVE)

3rd Movement - Rondo allegro (starting at 15:07)
1st Theme (MAROON)
2nd Theme (BROWN)
1st Theme reprise (MAROON)
3rd Theme (BLUE)
1st Theme Variation (MAROON)
2nd Theme Variation (BROWN 2)
1st Theme (Short Var.) (MAROON)
2nd Theme Variation (BROWN 2)
1st Theme reprise (MAROON)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1/26 Bartok and Rachmaninoff play Beethoven

Bela Bartok
Besides being one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century (and a heck of a musicologist as well), Bela Bartok was also known to tinkle the ivories with his friend Joe Szigeti.  Szigeti was no stranger to Beethoven's music, and here we find a fascinating look at how one of the greatest modern composers of the last century interpreted our favorite piano virtuoso.

Violin Sonata No.9 in A, Op.47 'Kreutzer' (1803)
Piano: Bela Bartok
Violin: Joseph Szigeti
Live, 1940


Sergei Rachmaninoff
Speaking of piano virtuosos, some say Sergei Rachmaninoff was the greatest pianist who ever lived (he also composed a few good tunes as well). Fortunately he was also a big Beethoven fan and recorded a few sides:

32 Variations (in C minor) on an Original Theme WoO.80 (1806)
Turkish March in B flat from The Ruins of Athens Op. 113 (Anton Rubinstein Arr.)
Piano: Sergei Rachmaninoff

Both Bartok and Rachmaninoff are fine composers as well as pianists, and it's well worth checking out the music of these young upstarts...
Bela Bartok Wiki
Sergei Rachmaninoff Wiki

I should probably add a mention to Dmitry Shostakovich's "Sonata for viola and piano, op.147" and the 3rd Movement:  "In Memory of the Great Beethoven: Adagio".
Not a Beethoven work obviously, but apparently he references the Moonlight Sonata in it.
Did "Shosty" play the Grosse Fuge to relax after work?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1/25 Beethoven Selects his Greatest Hits

I always like getting recommendations from people who I respect when I want to discover some good music. So what would LvB have recommended (out of his own music that is)?

Well, later in life he definitely would not have recommended his Septet, Op.20, which was actually kind of an early hit with the public. "I wish it were burned", he said, according to Thayer. Also in a letter about his Sextet Op.71: "All that one can really say about it is that is was written by a composer who has produced at any rate a few better works". The 2nd Piano Concerto he admitted was "not one of my best" and sold it at a discount. He admitted in one letter that the overtures "Ruins of Athens", "Nameday" and "King Stephen" were not his "best and greatest".  He once wondered why so many people were crazy about Piano Sonata No. 14 ("Moonlight"), since he thought "Fur Therese" Op.78 (NOT "Fur Elise") was so much better.

However, he was known to name his 3rd Symphony ('Eroica') and the 9th Symphony as favorites later in life and described the 7th Symphony as "one of the happiest products of my poor talents". At one point his favorite piano sonata was Op.22, then Op.57 ("Appassionata"), and then later still Op.106 ("Hammerklavier").
Before the 9th Symphony came along, he said of the Missa Solemnis, "(it's) the greatest work I have ever composed" (tho I'm not sure if that's a quote from an actual conversation, or a fund-raising letter...). Of the string quartets, his favorite was Op.131 in C-sharp minor (which is usually considered his best by many today). And his 'Cavatina' movement from String Quartet Op. 130 always made him cry whenever he thought about it.  He never got tired of his song "Adelaide" Op.46, either for some reason.

So there you have it, if Beethoven were alive today to produce his "Greatest Hits" it would have Symphonies 3,7 and 9, Piano Sonatas "Appassionata" and the "Hammerklavier", String Quartet Op. 131 and Op. 130 and probably the "Gloria" from the Missa Solemnis. Maybe a bonus track would be "Adelaide"....or a remix of the Septet Op.20 with more timpani....?

Here's a transcription of "Adelaide" for guitar and voice, possibly by Anton Diabelli.  I dare someone to sing this at the next Lilith Fair...:)
(Elizabeth Parcells)

(A traditional arrangement of Adelaide can be found HERE)

Monday, January 24, 2011

1/24 Musical Life in Vienna c.1800

Anne-Louis Coldicott wrote probably the best article I ever read on musical life in Beethoven's time.  Originally collected in the book "The Beethoven Compendium" (Cooper, Borders Press), here's a healthy excerpt (I left out the stuff about Bonn):

"BEETHOVEN’S LIFE WAS SPENT in two centres. His formative years were in his birthplace Bonn, in the German Rhineland, and his years of attainment in faraway Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire and the musical capital of Europe...The Vienna in which Beethoven found himself in 1792 was without doubt the leading musical city in Europe. All types of music flourished, and opera was probably the most popular. French operas, particularly those by Cherubini (Italian by birth but French by adoption) and Méhul, were the most enthusiastically received. Their popular revolutionary themes appealed to Beethoven and inspired him to attempt an opera of his own, first 'Vestas Feuer', which was not completed, and then 'Fidelio'.

     "A high standard of orchestral and chamber music was attained by the private orchestras and ensembles maintained by the imperial court and members of the nobility. The wealthies nobles, such as the Princes Lobkowitz and Lichnowsky and Count Razumovsky, had concert halls within their palaces. First-class recitals could be heard in salons both in their palaces and in private houses whose wealthy owners patronized individual performers. Touring virtuosi were much sought after, and these occasions also provided excellent opportunities for aspiring new-comers to establish themselves. One of the leading exponents of chamber music was the violinist and conductor Ignaz Schuppanzigh. He led several string quartets in Vienna over a long period. The first, dating from 1796, performed once a week at Prince Lichnowsky’s palace, presenting works by Forster, Haydn and Mozart. Schuppanzigh quickly established a lasting and productive friendship with Beethoven and was to play an important role in introducing his chamber music in Vienna, initially with the first performance of the Op.18 String Quartets. In 1804, he formed another quartet which gave the first public string quartet recitals. In 1808, Count Razumovsky engaged Schuppanzigh to form a resident quartet, which performed the three Op. 59 String Quartets that the Count had commissioned from Beethoven. This quartet was abandoned only in 1816 following the destruction of Razumovsky’s palace, whereupon Schuppanzigh left Vienna. Earlier travels had taken him all over Europe; this time he travelled to Russia, where he promoted the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. His return to Vienna in 1823 may have had some influence on the composition of Beethoven’s late quartets.

     "Virtuoso performers who visited Vienna were not only popular with their audiences, but served as inspirations to native musicians. In Beethoven’s case the stimulus was two-fold. The effect of the arrival of the pianists Wolffl and Cramer in 1798/9 was to raise the standard of his own playing to new heights. Other instrumentalists inspired him as a composer. For example, he wrote his Mandolin Sonata (WoO 43) for Wenzel Krumpholz, the Horn Sonata Op. 17 for Johann Wenzel Stich (who preferred to be known as 'Punto'), and the Violin Sonata Op. 47 (‘Kreutzer') for George Bridgetower. Less specifically, the playing of his Cello Sonata Op. 5 no. 2 by the virtuoso double-bassist Dragonetti alerted Beethoven to that instrument’s potential and influenced his orchestral treatment of it.

     "Public orchestral concerts had begun to be a feature of Viennese musical life since the 1770s. The Tonkunstlergesellschaft, founded by Gassmann in 1772, was the first independent body to promote concerts, with four annual performances at Lent and Christmas for the benefit of musicians’ widows and orphans. In 1812 the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde was founded by Joseph Sonnleithner, and in 1819 Franz Xaver Gebauer, an early member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, founded and became the first conductor of the Concerts Spirituels, modelled on the French series of the same name. Besides these, there were a few subscription concerts (that is, concerts where the audience had guaranteed to subscribe in advance) given by both resident musicians and visiting virtuosi.

     "There were no purpose-built concert halls until 1831, when the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde acquired its own premises. Theatres and halls primarily intended for other purposes were therefore used. Beethoven presented Akademien (concerts) in the two court theatres, the Burgtheater and the Karntnertor Theatre, within the Hoff theater. The most important private theatre was the Theater an der Wien, the venue of the first public performance of a number of Beethoven’s major works. Amongst a number of other private theatres may be cited the Josephstadt Theatre, to celebrate the reconstruction of which Beethoven wrote the overture The Consecration of the House,Op. 124.

     "Of the halls, three were most frequently used: the Zur Mehlgrube (literally ‘At the Sign of the Flour Shop’), the Jahnischer Saal and the Augarten. All three were primarily restaurants where slightly less formal concerts took place, usually during the daytime. Other possible concert venues were to be found within the imperial castle. These were the two Redoutensaal, the Rittersaal and the Zeremoniensaal. Most used was the Grosser Redoutensaal, a ballroom which could accommodate particularly large concerts. One further venue, which was the scene of many Beethoven performances, was the University’s Festsaal, which was used by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde before they had their own hall.

     "The Burgtheater had its own resident orchestra which could be hired for concerts at other venues, but it was more usual for orchestras to consist of adhoc collections of good amateur players, sometimes augmented by a few professionals. Public concerts were usually organized and financed by individual promoters, generally composers, conductors or virtuoso instrumentalists, who assumed control of the entire event: the programmes, the performers, the publicity and the sale of tickets. A translation of a programme prepared in advance by Beethoven may be reproduced here:

Today, Wednesday April 2 1800 
Herr Ludwig van Beethoven will
have the honour to give 
A Grand Akademie Concert
in the Royal Imperial Court Theatre beside the Burg. The pieces which will be performed are the following: 

1. A Grand Symphony by the late Kapellmeister Mozart.
2. An aria from ‘The Creation’ by the Princely Kapellmeister Herr Haydn, sung by Mlle Saal.
3. A Grand Concerto for the pianoforte, played and composed by Herr Ludwig van Beethoven.
4. A Septet, most humbly and obediently dedicated to Her Majesty the Empress, and composed by Herr Ludwig van Beethoven for four stringed and three wind instruments, played by Herren Schuppanzigh, Schreiber, Schindlecker, Bar, Nickel, Matauschenand Dietzel.
5. A Duet from Haydn’s ‘Creation’ sung by Herr and Mlle Saal.
6. Herr Ludwig van Beethoven will improvise on the pianoforte.
7. A new Grand Symphony with complete orchestra, composed by Herr Ludwig van Beethoven

Tickets for boxes and stalls are to be had of Herr van Beethoven at his lodgings in the Tiefen Graben No. 241, third floor, and of the box-keeper.
The admission prices are as usual
The start is at half past 6

     "The length of the above concert would not have been considered out of the ordinary at the time, but a programme consisting of the works of just these three composers was unusual. After the Congress of Vienna the pattern of cultural life changed. Musicians were not supported to the degree they had previously enjoyed, and with less money about there were fewer commissions. Tastes changed too. Italian opera of a very light kind became all the rage with the Viennese public, who clamoured for greater spectacular effects at the expense of the drama and music. This was perhaps an understandable reaction after years of war, but it satisfied only on a superficial level. Beethoven felt himself out of sympathy with the wider public at this time. This and the torment of his current domestic affairs saw a stagnant period as far as his composition was concerned. Gradually it became apparent that more enlightened people were also not satisfied with the trivial nature of the music in fashion. The later works of Mozart seemed to satisfy their deeper feelings, and previously neglected works of Haydn enjoyed a new-found popularity. From around 1818 Beethoven’s compositional inspiration was rekindled and his music displayed a new intensity. He was now seized on as the true artistic apostle of the age, with his music assuming the new values which emerged from the turmoil of war and destruction."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1/23 Beethoven's Cello Sonata 5 w Yudkin Lecture on Concision

Beethoven's Cello Sonata 5 (in D Major Op.102, No. 2 (1815)) is another one of those pieces where the late-period Ludwig just floors me with "sublime feeling".  Here's Alfred Brendel and his son (?) Adrian Brendel on cello doing the entire work with one of those cool "accompanied score" videos.  These first 2 vids are followed by Micah Fusselman and Jeongin Kim in a Masterclass with Yehuda Hanani at CCM May 25, 2009.
(total time 1 hour).

Pt 1 - 2: (Brendel and Son recital)
Pt 3: Masterclass recital of the 2nd movement
Pt 4 - 7: Masterclass instruction


I can't resist throwing in this performance of the 3rd and final fugue movement by Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky - explosive.

...As a follow-up "Sunday feature" - here's a very recent lecture (October 14, 2010) by Jeremy Yudkin, music professor and chair of the musicology and ethnomusicology department at the College of Fine Arts of Boston University.  He talks about "concision" and does a nice analysis of the 1st movement of Beethoven's 5th, and then moves on to Miles Davis' "Blue in Green" and Paul McCartney...
The Beethoven stuff starts around 28:20...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1/22 String Quartets: Opus 135 and Opus 74 "The Harp"

The La Jolla Music Society in California presents "SummerFest" every year, where a huge number of chamber groups gather to perform and give workshops.  Their Youtube channel has a wealth of videos documenting this festivel from the last 10 years.

Here's a full performance of Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 135 by the Tokyo String Quartet at the 2008 Summerfest:

I'll be featuring more highlights from the Summerfest collection in the future....

As a second feature for today here's a concert from Serreconcert 5 (Conservatory Concert 5) from the conservatory of the AKN-building in Hilversum, Netherlands.  The Rubens String Quartet performs Mozart's String Quartet KV 589, followed by Beethoven's "Harp" Quartet Opus 74.
Mozart's Quartet KV 589 begins at 3:00.
Beethoven's Quartet Opus 74 begins at 31:30.

Friday, January 21, 2011

1/21 Visual Beethoven

"ASCII Beethoven"
Beethoven has inspired quite alot of musicians and writers, but also many visual artists.  I posted about the 100 days project before (as well as Beethoven's own manuscript "art"), and so here's a few more interesting examples of "Beethoven-inspired" art....

"Beethoven Symphony 5" by Eduard Tomek

I wrote about my visit to the Klimt "Beethoven Frieze" in my Vienna trip account.
Gustav Klimt "Beethoven Frieze"

...and these are images of Page 1 from the "Ode to Joy" movement of Symphony 9 (in Beethoven's own hand) with some manipulations using the cool effects from

Hey - I'm an artist! ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1/20 Playing the European Circuit...with Beethoven

Map of 1801 with some tour cities circled (except London, just seemed relevant).
(orig from Atlas To Freeman's Historical Geography,Longmans Green and Co 1903)
One aspect of Beethoven's life which doesn't get talked about as much is his concert tour career.  In B.'s time, just as in our time, many composer/musicians travelled throughout Europe to make additional income.  Mozart of course was a pro "on the road", and Haydn first met Beethoven on one of his own tours.  Unfortunately when B. moved to Vienna to study with Haydn, Papa H. went on tour again (to England) and was generally too busy to correct Ludwig's homework. Beethoven himself spent only a few years touring seriously, since after his hearing deteriorated he realized it wouldn't be too prudent to play out quite so often.  Even at the end of his life tho, there was great demand for B. to go to England.

Here's a chronology of Beethoven's "Touring Career" (based on what little documentation exists):

1796: Feb-March: Extended visit (tour) to Prague with Count Lichnowsky.  Composes "Ah, Perfido!"and some mandolin music WoO 43-44 for Countess Josephine de Clary in Prague (see bottom of today's post).
"Beethoven spent several weeks in Prague playing not only his own compositions in concerts, but also improvisations which won the favor of his audiences.  His mastery of extemporization was incomparable.  Upon departing from Prague he had made many friends plus a considerable amount of money." (City Museum, Prague)

Apr-July - Arrives in Dresden, soon performs for the Elector of Saxony, then leaves for Leipzig and Berlin.
Obverse of Louis XVI Gold Louis D'Or
"Beethoven used the opportunity of his presence in the Prussian capitol to play for the court and for larger audiences several times, primarily in the concert hall of the Singakademie.His skillful improvisations at the piano on themes given him by the audience apparently left a deeper impression than did his own compositions....Frederick William II, King of Prussia had Beethoven play for him on several occasions, and on his departure presented him with a golden box filled with louis d'ors." (Former State Library, Berlin)
While in Berlin, Beethoven composes Cello Sonata #1, Opus 5 (dedicated to the Prussian King) for court cellist Jean-Louis DuPort as well as the "Judas Maccabaeus" Variations WoO 45 and other works.
(The Berlin Singakademie in 1843 by Eduard Gaertner)
July: Back to Vienna (possibly to feed the horse?)

November: Tour to Pressburg (Bratislava) and Pest/Budapest (concert on Nov 23)

1798 - October (or thereabouts): 2nd visit to Prague to perform his 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos.

1800 - May-July: Return visit to Budapest, performances include Horn Sonata Op.17 with "Punto" (Jan Václav Stich).
"Don't call me Jan."
(Thanks to the Beethoven Compendium for some dates info)
Here's an "all-mandolin" arrangement of the Sonatina for Mandolin and Harpsichord in C major WoO.44a:

Arrangement for mandolin orchestra: Tomislav Kalebić
Mandolin Orchestra "Sanctus Domnio", Conductor: Frane Kuss, Recorded in Zagreb (Croatia), 2006

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1/19 Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto: Color Analysis (Ashkenazy/Mehta)

Today's post is a return to some analysis.  I took a pretty long break from it to try and think up some new ways to present it.  My previous analysis posts have worked out fine and all, but I still felt that something was here's yet another way of presenting a visual analysis of the structure of some of Beethoven's works.  I have no idea why I chose Piano Concerto 4 - it's a real beast and it's wild and wooly modulations and permutations almost completely discouraged me - but here's a start.

Instead of annotating a live performance video, I'm going to try to color-code the formal structures of the movements.  I'm hoping this will give a "big picture" view of the piece and we can see Beethoven's long-range designs at a glance....

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, op. 58 (1806)
(performance by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Zubin Mehta)
0:00 - 1. Allegro Moderato
20:09 - 2. Andante con moto
26:01 - 3. Rondo (Vivace)

CHANNEL LINK: Click here to see this video on my YouTube Channel. Once there, click on "...(more info)" to scroll through the text description while the video stays in place.

Movement 1,  Allegro moderato
1st Exposition
1st Theme Intro - Piano solo (MAROON)
1st Theme (Orchestra solo)
2nd Theme (Orch) (BLUE)
3rd Theme (Orch) (GREEN)
Cadence Section (Orch) (Lt BLUE)
2nd Exposition
1st Theme Intro Orchestra (Maroon)
1st Theme Piano w Orch w variations
Bridge A (BROWN A)
Bridge B (BROWN B)
2nd Theme (BLUE)
3rd Theme (GREEN)
Cadence Section (Lt BLUE)
Development based on 1st Theme (PURPLE)
1st Recapitulation
1st Theme - Piano solo (MAROON)
1st Theme (both)
Bridge A Variation (BROWN)
Bridge B (BROWN)
2nd Theme (BLUE)
3rd Theme (GREEN)
3rd Theme Variation (GREEN)
Cadenza (3 Shades of BLUE)
1st Theme
3rd Theme
3rd theme with 1st theme
2nd Recapitulation
3rd Theme (GREEN)
Coda w 1st Theme (MAROON)

Movement 2, Andante con Moto (starting at 20:09)
1st Theme (Orch) (MAROON)
1st Theme (Piano) (BROWN)
1st Theme (Orch) (MAROON)
1st Theme (Piano) (BROWN)
Development (BLUE)
Transition Theme (2nd Theme) (GREEN)
Cadenza (PURPLE)
Coda: 1st Theme (BROWN)

Movement 3, Rondo (starting at 26:02)
1st Theme (MAROON)
2nd Theme (BROWN)
3rd Theme A (GREEN)
3rd Theme B (GREEN)
1st Theme (variation) (MAROON)
2nd Theme (BROWN)
3rd Theme A (GREEN)
3rd Theme B (short version) (GREEN)
Development (all themes) (PURPLE)
1st Theme (variation) (MAROON)
2nd Theme (variation) (BROWN)
Cadenza (3 shades of BLUE)
1st Theme (Piano)
2nd Theme (Piano)
Orchestra joins Piano
1st Theme (Coda) (MAROON)
(timings were assisted by Alan Rich's "Play by Play" book.
1st Movement Color Scheme
2nd Movement Color Scheme
3rd Movement Color Scheme

(Sadly Youtube is blocking these vids in Germany but here's the color schemes anyways....)

There is so much to be said about this work...this is just a bird's eye view. For more, check THIS excellent thesis out...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/18 Beethoven was My Piano Tutor

Imagine how many people must have wanted to take piano lessons from Beethoven in his taking guitar lessons from Jimi Hendrix!  Actually, Beethoven did teach a few lady friends he was attracted to, but only a few people became his "official" students.
In general Beethoven hated giving lessons.  In his early days in Bonn he gave lessons from age 15 at students' homes but half the time he would knock on the door and then change his mind at the last minute, telling them that he'd come to tell them that he couldn't make it that day.  In his early years at Vienna, he seems to have given lessons to Ferdinand Ries, Carl Czerny...and lots of young women.  A couple ladies were actually virtuosi (Baroness Dorothea von Ertmann, to whom Opus 101 was dedicated being a notable example) but most were young well-to-do women who he eventually fell in love with.  Sadly, people who were able to afford piano teachers were typically looking to marry Counts and Princes...

Ferdinand Ries writes:
"When B. gave me lessons, I must say that contrary to his nature he was extraordinarily patient.  I could only attribute this, and his almost unfailingly amicable behavior towards me, mainly to his love and affection for my father (childhood friend from Bonn).  Thus he sometimes made me repeat a thing 10 times or even more...If I made a mistake somewhere in a passage, or struck wrong notes, or missed intervals  - which he often wanted strongly emphasized - he rarely said anything.  However, if I lacked expression in crescendos, etc. or in the character of a piece, he became angry because, he maintained, the first was accident, while the latter resulted from inadequate knowledge, feeling or attention" (Wegeler).
For counterpoint he would tell students that it took a special kind of teacher to teach that kind of thing and that "Albrechtsberger was the acknowledged master".

As far as piano methods, he disliked books by Hummel, Czerny or Pleyel.  He did however, like studies written by Cramer or Muzio Clementi.  In Gerhard von Breuning's memoir about his childhood spent with Beethoven in his last years, he recounts how B. made an effort to get Clementi's piano instruction text translated into German so young Breuning could make use of it.  While teaching Czerny he also used some exercises from C.P.E. Bach's (J.S. Bach's son) piano method.  Beethoven always had plans to write his own piano method ("I would have written something quite unconventional!") but never got around to it.  Now THAT would have been something!

Well I guess the closest one can get is to read William Newman's "Beethoven on Beethoven: Playing His Piano Music His Way":
From Library Journal/Amazon:  Eminent music scholar Newman, whose three-volume history of the sonata idea is a landmark work in musicology, has brought together his interests in Beethoven and piano playing in this important study of performance practice in Beethoven's piano music. Newman aims to discover how Beethoven actually intended his music to be played. Relying on autograph scores, early editions, Beethoven's letters, and eyewitness accounts of his performances, plus a vast and comprehensive array of source materials, Newman explores all the major issues affecting performance practice. Always fair and judicious, he presents the evidence, sometimes contradictory, and allows the reader to draw conclusions. The value of this book, both as historical study and practical guide, cannot be overstated. Susan Kagan, Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Here's a Beethoven lesson that might have been typical tho (starting at 5:23)

Full program below:
8/21 The Genius of Beethoven (2005 TV Mini)

Monday, January 17, 2011

1/17 Piano Sonatas 5 and 8, Symphony 7 (Jussens, van Zweden)

Homework (Pathétique Introduction)
Today's a holiday for many of us here in the States (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) so I'll feature another "longer" concert, much like I do on the weekends.  Lately Youtube has relaxed their video length limitations dramatically and you can actually find a Mozart "Marriage of Figaro" that's almost 2 and a half hours long on there!

So here's a recent broadcast concert by young pianists Arthur Jussen and his brother Lucas Jussen performing Beethoven's Piano Sonata #5 and Piano Sonata #8, followed by some Faure.  Then the concert finishes of with Jaap van Zweden conducting the Radio Filharmonisch Orkestin in a rip-roaring Beethoven 7th Symphony...I think these 2 young pianists are fine but those jackets...have got to go.

00:15: LvB,Piano Sonata #5 In Cm, Op.10/1 (1797) (Arthur Jussen)
21:20: LvB, Piano Sonata #8 In Cm, Op.13, "Pathétique" (1798) (Lucas Jussen)
43:00: Faure, Dolly Ste Op.56 Berceuse, Le pas espagnole (Jussens)
49:00: LvB, Symphony No.7 in A major, Op.92, (Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Jaap van Zweden conducting)

Vrijdag van Vredenburg 26-11

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1/16 Mark Steel Lecture on Beethoven

I feel like I've featured lots of concerts in recent "weekend editions" (as well as in Wednesday's bonanza) so today is something different again.  Here's a really funny documentary/lecture on Beethoven by comedian Mark Steel.  So rare to find something actually funny and yet honest about LvB...(28 minutes).
Watch Mark Steel on Beethoven

In case my Veoh vid above gets deleted you can find this on Youtube in decidedly grungier quality  HERE.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1/15 Quartet with Obbligato Dancers

(animated gif courtesy
Here's a fascinating program about a dance program collaborating with a string quartet.  The quartet is Beethoven's 1st, Opus 18 No 1, and the dance choreographer is Allyson Green working with a group based in San Diego CA.  Beethoven wrote an orchestral score for ballet, "The Creatures of Prometheus" - but I don't think he ever envisioned one of his string quartets being accompanied in this way.  I was a bit skeptical at first but after 10 or 15 minutes I started getting into it.The program starts with a "making of" and the quartet performance starts around the 22 minute mark

"This documentary explores acclaimed choreographer Allyson Green's creation of a new dance work, set to Beethoven's String Quartet in F-Major, Op. 18, No. 1. Green's project collaborators include the creme-de-la-creme of San Diego area dancers, and four musicians drawn from SummerFest's Young Artists Program. Series: "La Jolla Music Society: SummerFest" [10/2005] [Arts and Music] [Show ID: 11134]"
String Quartet 1 in F, Op.18, No.1 (1800)

Friday, January 14, 2011

1/14 The Art of Beethoven: Close-Up

I don't know why I love Beethoven's hand-written scores so much.  Maybe it's because there are so many corrections and cross-outs - I can relate to him as a human being.  That's the thing regarding Beethoven's music - it incorporates victory, tragedy, intimacy and sublimity and much more.  Anyways, I decided to do a microscopic examination of B.'s actual penmanship today...kind of a "pop-art" view of his manuscripts.

Here's a video I made of a good selection...
(music excerpt from Artur Schnabel performing Opus 111, 2nd mvmt)

and here's my album of "Close-up Beethoven" (with which I made the video above).
Manuscript Art of Beethoven

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1/13 Awesome Stories, Primary Sources

Recently I came across a cool website called Awesome Stories which features articles based on "primary sources" - in other words, whatever they write is somewhat more truthful than when people like me write "I think I read somewhere that Beethoven possibly may have..."

"AwesomeStories is about primary sources. The stories exist as a way to place original materials in context and to hold those links together in an interesting, cohesive way (thereby encouraging people to look at them). It is a totally different kind of web site in that its purpose is to place primary sources at the forefront - not the opinions of a writer. Its objective is to take the site's users to places where those primary sources are located."

The articles list the sources of all their facts and have lots of "pop-up" links to relevant images, videos, documents and audio clips.  Fun.

Here's how the one about Beethoven starts:
"A vicious, early-spring storm darkened Vienna's late-afternoon sky.  Suddenly, an enormous thunder-clap reverberated throughout the Schwarzspanierhaus ("House of the Black-Robed Spaniards").  Inside, a man was dying.  Although deaf and comatose, Ludwig van Beethoven seemed startled by the enormous thunder peal.  Lifting his right arm - as though he were a general, commanding an army - the 56-year-old composer momentarily clenched his raised fist.  Seconds later, his arm fell back onto his bed, and Beethoven died.  It was the 26th of March, 1827.

Some people thought Beethoven strange - or even hostile.  Except for his servants, the maestro lived alone, like someone who had been banished. In a way, he was banished.  Separated from the hearing world - in which people listened to his music - Beethoven heard nothing as the sound of his compositions echoed throughout Europe.

How could someone who penned great musical works - like the second movement of his 7th Symphony, or the 9th, or the 5th - create when he was profoundly deaf?  How did he view his genius, coupled with his deafness? Two centuries later, Beethoven's music is still popular.  His influence remains extraordinary.  But ... who was Ludwig - as a boy, as a man and as a musician?"

It's a finely done overview of Beethoven, which you can see in its entirety HERE (as well as lots of other very interesting articles such as BIOGRAPHIES and HISTORY)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1/12 The 10 Essential Beethoven CDs

Sometimes I get asked - What do you recommend as far as essential Beethoven goes?
And someday I'll have to sit down and answer that question.  My knee-jerk response is "All of it", but if you don't feel up to listening to 87 CDs of Beethoven's music in one go, then here's a Top 10 list from "Classical CD Guide.Com.  Their choices are pretty solid and a good place to start when diving into Beethoven's's a sampling:

Top 10 Essential Beethoven CDs (according to Classical CD
(for any artists who I couldn't find on YT, I subbed a pretty good rendition I think.  These are all excerpts (except #1) need to buy those 86 other CDs, right?)

1. Symphony 5, Conducted by Carlos Kleiber Herbert von Karajan
(Complete.  Play It Loud.) "The most famous piece of classical music ever written".

2. "Pathétique" and "Moonlight" Piano Sonatas, Alfred Brendel:
"Beethoven's more intimate medium of expression. "
(Moonlight 1st movement)

3. "Razumovsky" String Quartets Takács Tokyo Quartet:
"Revolutionary chamber works. "
(String Quartet 9, in C, Op.59 No 3 M4, excerpt)

4. Symphony 9, "Choral", Conducted by von Karajan,
"An inspiring journey, culminating in the "Ode to Joy." 

5 Violin Concerto, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Eugen Jochum:
"Inaugurating the era of the Romantic concerto." 

6. Piano Concerto 5, "Emperor" Kovacevich, Davis: Emil Gilels/Kurt Sanderling:
"The king of piano concertos."

7. Symphony 3, "Eroica" Szell    Arturo Toscanini '53:
"A revolutionary symphony." 

8. "Spring" and "Kreutzer" Violin Sonatas  Perlman / Ashkenazy, Heifetz/Moiseiwitsch
"The young composer at his most jubilant."
("Kreutzer" 1st movement)

9. Late String Quartets, Takács Quartet,
"Quartets that break all the rules." 
(Opus 131, Movement 5 - Presto)

10 Late Piano Sonatas, Maurizio Pollini,
"Complex works that set a new standard."
(Opus 111, excerpt)

From a purely musical perspective, I can humbly judge this post to be the greatest blog post in recorded history ;).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11 Trinklied, Punchlied: Drinking Songs

"Trinklied", beim Abschied), WoO109
or Farewell Drinking song)  (1792)
The unusual scoring of this song for voice, piano, and unison chorus was shared by another written around the same time, Punschlied, WoO. 111. Obviously both are early songs, certainly among the first half-dozen surviving ones in Beethoven's oeuvre.  "Trinklied" is a rousing drinking song, written on texts by an unknown author. Marked 'Allegretto' and written in the key of C, it was intended for a farewell scene among a group of friends. This song was not published in Beethoven's lifetime, most likely indicating the composer's intention to suppress it.

"Punschlied" ("Wer nicht, wenn warm von Hand") WoO 111
or "Who not, if warmly by hand"  (according to Worldlingo)
This song seems to have preceeded "Trinklied". While some musicologists have dated "Punschlied" back to 1789, it likely came around 1791, closer to the period of composition of "Trinklied". The songs appear to be twins, or at least first cousins--not simply because they are drinking songs, but because of their textual similarities. Indeed, "Trinklied" was written for the occasion of a farewell to a friend or friends, while the earlier "Punschlied" was intended for a reunion. "Punschlied" is a bit lighter in mood than the more earthy "Trinklied". It is also perhaps somewhat less colorful, sounding predictable and bland in some of its choral writing. The piano accompaniment is not particularly distinguished either, featuring rather unimaginative harmonies. Still, for all the pedestrian qualities of the song, it is joyous and full of energy, divulging a youthful charm and a brightly-lit world.
(edited version of original text by Robert Cummings)

The versions below shared by "Zarataphs" don't feature the chorus unfortunately, maybe they went off to get another round...
(Peter Schreier and Walter Olbertz)

"Trinklied", beim Abschied, WoO109 (German lyrics)
Erhebt das Glas mit froher Hand
und trinkt euch heitren Mut.
Wenn schon, den Freundschaft euch verband,
nun das Geschicke trennt,
so heitert dennoch euren Schmerz
und kranket nicht des Freundes Herz.
Nur trinkt, erhebt den Becher hoch,
ihr Bruder, hoch und singt nach treuer Freunde
weisem Brauch und singt das frohe Lied.
Uns trennt das Schicksal,
doch es bricht die Freundschaft treuer Herzen nicht.

"Drinking Song to be Sung when Saying Farewell" (ENGLISH)
Raise your glass with gladsome hand
and drink to cheer your spirits.
If he to whom you are already bound in friendship
is now parted from you by fate,
then banish your grief / brothers, banish your grief
and do not offend a friend's heart.
Drink now. raise your goblet aloft,
my brothers. Raise it aloft and sing
in accord with true friends‘ wise custom.
Sing a blithe song.
Though fate may part us, the friendship
of true hearts will not be broken.

"Punschlied" ("Wer nicht, wenn warm von Hand") WoO 111 (German lyrics)
Wer nicht, wenn warm von Hand zu Hand
der Punsch im Kreise geht,
der Freude voll're Lust empfand,
der schleiche schnell hinweg.
Wir trinken alle hocherfreut,
so lang uns Punsch die Kumme beut.

"Song ln Praise of Punch" (ENGLISH)
When hot punch is passed ln a circle
from hand to hand, let all who have not
felt joy's greater pleasures
steal swiftly away.

Rejoicing, we all go on drinking
as long as the bowl still has punch to offer. (4X)

Monday, January 10, 2011

1/10 "This One's for Maxie Brentano" (Dedications)

"Waldstein"'s Dedication Page
I sometimes wonder: if more of Beethoven's piano sonatas and other works had "song titles" to them, would they be more popular?  "Werke ohne Opuszahl Number 59" just doesn't roll off the tongue like "For Elise". It seems the "nicknamed" ones get most of the press....  The nicknames typically come from the dedicatee.

I list the dedications below in the hope that "Piano Sonata 10, Opus 14, No. 2" can soon come to popular fame as "von Braun's 2nd".  Personally I'm also very fond of Sonata 28, Opus 101 - I mean, "The Baroness"...

Piano Sonata Dedications:

No. 1, 2, and 3 Opus 2, No 1-3: to Joseph Haydn
No. 4 Opus 7: to Countess Babette von Keglievicz
No. 5, 6, and 7 Opus 10, No 1-3: to Countess von Browne
No. 8 Opus 13 "Pathétique": to Prince Carl von Lichnowsky
No. 9, 10 Opus 14, No 1, 2: to Baron von Braun
No. 11 Opus 22: to Baron von Braun
No. 12 Opus 26 "Funeral March": To Prince Carl von Lichnowsky
No. 13 Opus 27 No 1 "Quasi Una Fantasia": to Princess Josephine von Liechtenstein
No. 14 Opus 27 No 2 "Moonlight": to Countess Julie Guicciardi
No. 15 Opus 28 "Pastoral": to Joseph von Sonnenfels
No. 21 Opus 53 "Waldstein": to Count von Waldstein
No. 23 Opus 57 "Appassionata": to Count Franz von Brunswick
No. 24 Opus 78 "To Therese": to Countess Therese von Brunswick
No. 26 Opus 81A "Les Adieux": to Archduke Rudolph of Austria
No. 27 Opus 90:  to Count Lichnowsky
No. 28 Opus 101: to Baroness Dorothea von Ertmann
No. 29 Opus 106 "Hammerklavier": to Archduke Rudolph of Austria
No. 30 Opus 109: to Ms. Maximiliane Brentano
No. 32 Opus 111: to Archduke Rudolph of Austria

String Quartet Dedications:

Quartets 1-6 Opus 18: to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian von Lobkowitz
Quartet 7-9 Opus 59 "Rasumovsky Quartets": to Count Andreas Kyrillowitsch Rasumovsky
Quartet 10 Opus 74 "Harp": to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian von Lobkowitz
Quartet 11 Opus 95 "Serioso": to Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanovetz
Late Quartets, Opus 127, 130, 132 "Galitzin Quartets": to Prinz Galitzin
Opus 131: to Baron von Stutterheim (nephew Karl's superior officer)
Opus 135: to Johann Wolfmayer (merchant friend)

Symphony Dedications:

Symphony 1 to Baron Gottfried van Swieten
Symphony 2 to Prince Carl von Lichnowsky
Symphony 3 "Eroica" to Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz
Symphony 4 to Count Franz von Oppersdorff
Symphony 5 to Prince Lobkowitz and Count Rasumovsky
Symphony 6 "Pastoral" to Prince Lobkowitz and Count Rasumovsky
Symphony 7 to Count Moritz von Fries
Symphony 8 to No one
Symphony 9 "Choral" to King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia

Beethoven's "Baroness" Sonata performed by Maria Yudina
1. Vivacious and with Deep Feeling
2. Lively. March Moderately