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8.553799 - BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles and Dances, Vol. 3
English 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Bagatelles and Dances, Volume 3

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770, the son of a singer in the chapel of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, of which his grandfather had been Kapellmeister. In due course Beethoven followed family example and entered the service of the court, as a keyboard- and string-player, to be sent by the Archbishop to Vienna for lessons with Mozart, but recalled to Bonn by the illness of his mother. At her death he assumed responsibility for his two younger brothers, through the inadequacy of his father, now pensioned off by the court.

In 1792 Beethoven returned to Vienna for lessons, at first, with Haydn, whom he had met in Bonn. He profited more, however, from lessons in counterpoint with Albrechtsberger and from the introductions he brought with him from Bonn, which ensured a favourable reception from leading members of the nobility. His patrons, over the years, acted towards him with extraordinary forbearance and generosity, tolerating his increasing eccentricities. These were accentuated by his increasing deafness from the turn of the century and the necessity of abandoning his career as a virtuoso pianist in favour of a concentration on composition.

During the following 25 years Beethoven developed his powers as a composer. His early compositions had reflected the influences of the age, but in the new century he began to enlarge the inherent possibilities of classical forms, experimenting with new forms of orchestral and keyboard music that offered a challenge to the succeeding generation, after his death in 1827.

The Rondo a Capriccio in G major, Opus 129, published only after Beethoven' s death, bore the title, in the hand of the composer's unpaid and sometimes unreliable assistant Anton Schindler, Die Wuth über den verloren Groschen, ausgetobt in einer Caprice (The rage over the lost penny, worked off in a caprice).

Beethoven's own title was Alla ingharese quasi un capriccio (In Hungarian style, as a caprice). Written between 1795 and 1798, the rondo, after its very familiar principal theme, includes episodes in G minor and E major and considerable development of the first theme and was completed for publication by an unknown arranger after the composer's death.

Beethoven had come to Vienna armed with recommendations to various member of the nobility from Count Waldstein, a particularly well-connected nobleman who had been inducted into the Teutonic Order in Bonn and was on close terms with the Archbishop-Elector 1804 brought the composition of the work that bears Waldstein's name, the Sonata in C major, Opus 53, the Waldstein Sonata. According to Beethoven's pupil Ferdinand Ries, the son of a former musician colleague in Bonn, someone suggested that the sonata with its original slow movement was too long, a notion that Beethoven at first rejected but subsequently accepted. As a result the Andante in F major, WoO 57, was replaced by a much shorter Introduction to the final rondo of the sonata. Ries tells how he heard Beethoven play the Andante and how he repeated what he remembered of it to Prince Lichnowsky. The latter, on a visit to Beethoven, played a joke on him by claiming to have written a new composition and then playing to him what he had heard of Beethoven's original Andante. After this Ries claims that he himself was excluded from any private hearing of Beethoven's new compositions. The movement is mentioned in the spring of 1805 in letters from Beethoven to Countess Josephine Deym (nee Brunsvik), his former pupil, at a time when their relationship was giving her sisters some cause for anxiety. With the first of two letters Beethoven sends her a work he describes as 'your Andante' and 'the sonata', and in the second asks for the Andante and two songs he had sent her back again. The request seems explained by a note to Ries asking him to make a quick copy of 'this Andante' , possibly the same movement. It was, in any case, published in September of that year and frequently performed by the composer, to whose style of performance it was well suited, with its singing principal melody.

Dance music for balls in Vienna was often provided by major composers. This, after all, had been Mozart's only official function at the court of Joseph II, and in 1792 Haydn had provided a set of dances for the Artists' Society Ball. Between 1795 and 1797 in particular Beethoven contributed his own sets of dances for various groups of instruments, some of which have survived in piano versions made by the composer, a useful addition to domestic repertoire of the time. The Deutsche (German Dance) was a forerunner of the waltz, a dance that gradually assumed popularity and even a degree of sophistication in the new century.

Beethoven's Rondo in C major, Opus 51, No.1, was written in 1796 and published by Artaria in the following year. Marked Moderato e grazioso, it offers a principal theme in characteristic singing style, contrasted in particular with a more dramatic C minor episode, after which the main theme returns in various guises. The Rondo in G major, Opus 51, No.2, was written in 1798 and published in 1802 with a dedication to Countess Henriette von Lichnowsky, sister of the composer's patron, The work had apparently been given first to Countess Julia Guicciardi, a young cousin of Countess Josephine Deym, but exchanged for the Moonlight Sonata, dedicated to the former in 1802. With the opening direction Andante cantabile e grazioso, the rondo contains an E major episode of greater brilliance and further contrast before the final varied return of the main theme. The Rondo in A major, WoO 49, was written in 1783, when Beethoven was twelve, and was published in Neue Blumenlese für Klavierliebhaber in 1784. It is, as might be expected, in a much simpler style and includes a chance for some youthful display in its second, D major episode.

Beethoven wrote his set of Twelve Minuets, WoO 7, for performance at the ball of the Artists' Society on 22"' November 1795 and Artaria published the dances in a version for the piano in the same year. In their orchestral version they were played in the smaller ball-room of the Redoutensaal, while Mozart's pupil Süssmayr provided the dance music for the larger room. The commission for music for this occasion is evidence of the high standing which Beethoven already had in Vienna after only three years in the city.

Keith Anderson

Jeno Jandó
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jandó has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. He has recorded for Naxos all the piano concertos and sonatas of Mozart. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.


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