About this Recording
2.110337 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - AUSTRIA: Mühlviertel / Styria / Rust / Burgenland (NTSC)

A Musical Visit to Austria
Mühlviertel • Styria • Burgenland • Rust
With music by Ludwig van Beethoven



Mühlviertel • Styria: Piber

Mühlviertel, which takes its name from two rivers, is a region of Upper Austria and includes within its borders farm-land, with fields for the rearing of horses, and grass meadows, with haycocks revealing the season of the year. In Styria the famous Lippizaner horses are bred at Piber, the white horses, born dark, acquire their traditional colour as they grow older. Snow-covered mountains are nearby, seen first in the distance and then close to, and Styria, a federated state of Austria, also provides a varied landscape and areas of natural beauty, still attracting visitors, as it did in the days of Schubert and Beethoven.

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 5 in F major, Op 24, ‘Spring’ – I. Allegro

The works that Beethoven wrote for violin and keyboard cover a period from about 1792 up to 1819, the period of the Hammerklavier Sonata. The most significant part of this repertoire must be the ten sonatas for violin and piano, which, although uneven in quality, represent a major contribution to the literature of the genre. In them Beethoven shows his ability to provide music that demands a partnership between the two players, no mere piano sonatas with optional violin accompaniment, whatever the title-page of earlier works may have suggested. As in the mature work of Mozart, the violin is treated as an essential participant, a division of labour that has since been generally established. Beethoven completed his F major Violin Sonata, Op 24, in 1801 and dedicated it, with its immediate predecessor, to Count Moritz von Fries. The nick-name ‘Spring’ seems to have arisen from the nature of the opening theme of the first movement, a melody that some claim to have been derived from the pianist-composer Clementi.


Mühlviertel • Styria

The beauty of the Austrian countryside is displayed. .

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 5 in F major, Op 24, ‘Spring’ – II. Adagio molto espressivo

The slow movement of the sonata entrusts its opening melody to the piano, before it is taken up by the violin.



Austria boasts a remarkable number of species of moth and butterfly, with well over 4,000 listed.

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 5 in F major, Op 24, ‘Spring’ – III. Scherzo: Allegro ma non troppo

The Scherzo is characterized by its use of syncopation, a contrast with the central Trio, with its rapid figuration.


Mühlviertel: Landscape

The region of Mühlviertel in Upper Austria has rolling fields, flower meadows, streams, with an old mill-wheel turning, and distant farmsteads and village houses.

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 5 in F major, Op 24, ‘Spring’ – IV. Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo

In the final Rondo the principal theme re-appears in a number of rhythmic guises, framing contrasting episodes.


Burgenland: Burg Lockenhaus • Schloss Bernstein • Schloss Schlaining • Schloss Liechtenstein • Schloss Forchenstein • Burg Landsee

The German word ‘Schloss’, like the French ‘Château’, covers a variety of buildings, some preserving their original military or defensive characteristics, a relic of more dangerous times, and others transformed into rather grand country houses. Burg Lockenhaus dates from about 1200 and belonged to the Güssing family and then, from 1676 to 1908, to the Esterházys. Schloss Bernstein dates from a similar period, in the possession of the Rorer family until 1613, to be rebuilt in 1648, after the Thirty Years War. Schloss Schlaining also belonged to the Güssing family, before falling into other hands, from the 16th century a possession of the Batthyánys, who have their own historical distinction in the history of Hungary. Schloss Liechtenstein was twice destroyed by the armies of the Ottoman Sultan and was finally restored in 1884. Burg Forchenstein dates from the 15th century, became a Habsurg possession, granted, in 1622, to Nikolaus Esterházy, rebuilt between 1630 and 1634, and housing a treasure chamber, a lavish cabinet of curiosities. Burg Landsee, dating from the 13th century, has long been in ruins.

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 9 in A major, Op 47, ‘Kreutzer’ – I. Adagio sostenuto – Presto

The so-called Kreutzer Sonata was originally designed by Beethoven for the mulatto violinist George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, son of a black page of Prince Esterházy, Frederich de August, described by a visitor to the Palace of Esterhazá as English, and of a European mother. Possibly a pupil of Haydn, the young Bridgetower had made a name for himself in Paris and in London, playing solos between the parts of performances of Handel’s Messiah and taking part in the Haydn concerts organized by Salomon in London in the 1790s. In 1802 Bridgetower visited his mother in Dresden, where his brother was employed as a cellist, and in Vienna gave the first performance of the present sonata, hastily finished for him by Beethoven, who had no time to have the violin part decently copied and on that occasion left much of the piano part unwritten. The original manuscript carries a jocular dedication—Sonata mulattica composta per il Mulatto Brischdauer/gran Pazzo e’compositore mulattico (Mulatto Sonata composed for the Mulatto Bridgetower, great fool and mulatto composer). The later name of the sonata comes from its revision and dedication to Rodolphe Kreutzer, pupil of the Mannheim musician Anton Stamitz and first professor of the violin at the newly established Conservatoire in Paris. Beethoven had met Kreutzer in Vienna in 1798, when he had visited the imperial capital in the entourage of Napoleon’s ambassador, Count Bernadotte. The new dedication was made after a quarrel with Bridgetower and without the knowledge of Kreutzer, who is not known ever to have performed the work in public. The sonata is written, as Beethoven pointed out, almost like a concerto, a characteristic evident in the first movement, with its impressive chordal opening for the violin and brilliant Presto.


Rust • Neusiedlersee

The village of Rust is known both for its wine and for the storks that make their nests there. The streets retain their original picturesque quality, and the buildings include the so-called Fishermen’s Church, the Pankratiuskirche, and the Sailors’ Church, the Schifferkirche. The Neusiedlersee is a large lake, with waters that are to some extent saline. It is bordered by reed-beds and also provides scope for pleasure boats.

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 9 in A major, Op 47, ‘Kreutzer’ – II. Andante con variazioni

The F major slow movement of the sonata is a theme, followed by four elaborate variations, the third of which is in F minor. The versions of the original theme, shared equally between piano and violin, are relatively extended and complex in their varied figuration.


Rust • Neusiedlersee

Storks are seen, nesting in chimneys over the village of Rust. The cameras then turn to the busy street market of the village, its Rathaus and its two churches, but principally to the varied display of goods for sale, before the sun slowly sets over the adjacent Neusiedlersee.

Music Beethoven: Violin Sonata No 9 in A major, Op 47, ‘Kreutzer’ – III. Finale: Presto

The final movement of the Kreutzer Sonata had been intended to close the A major Sonata Op 30, No 1, dedicated to the Tsar of Russia, and consequently existed in a fair copy before Bridgetower’s Vienna concert. It provides a conclusion that matches in brilliance the preceding movements.

Keith Anderson


Takako Nishizaki, Violin, Jenő Jandó, piano [Naxos 8.550283]

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