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9.70291 - BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Fragments and Sketches (C. Petersson)
English 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Piano Fragments and Sketches

 

During the course of his life Beethoven wrote a quantity of piano pieces. Many of these remained without an Opus number, their listing indicated, in a catalogue by Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm as WoO, ‘Werke ohne Opuszahl’ (‘Works without Opus Number’), although they may have been published in the composer’s lifetime. A catalogue by the Swiss musicologist Willy Hess was issued in the 1950s, listing unpublished or unfinished pieces, some of which were included in the WoO catalogue. In addition to the works with opus number, those given as WoO and Hess pieces, there is an attempt at a catalogue of all the known works in chronological order by Giovanni Biamonti. Many of the sketches and fragments here are given with Biamonti numbering. Some fragments or sketches have been filled out to provide more or less complete pieces. A number of these owe their existence to the Dutch composer and musicologist Albert Willem Holsbergen.

Beethoven completed the score of his Symphony No. 7, Op. 92 on 13 May 1812 and it was first performed in Vienna in December 1813 at a charity concert in aid of those wounded at the Battle of Hanau. Beethoven seems to have started to make a piano transcription of the symphony, a necessary commercial step, but left off after the first 46 bars (Hess 96), leaving the task of transcribing the whole symphony to others.

Melody in C minor, Hess 324 was found in the sketchbooks that had once belonged to Count Michael Wielhorsky, transcribed by Nathan Fishman and published in Moscow in 1962, representing sketches by Beethoven from 1802 and 1803. The work has also been reconstructed by Albert Willem Holsbergen. Piano Piece in D major, Hess 325 dates from the same period and the same sketches. March in C minor, Hess 330, reconstructed by Holsbergen, dates from 1804.

Menuett in B flat major, Hess 331 is found in the Grasnick 2 Sketchbook of 1799, transcribed by Wilhelm Virneisel. A fragment, it gives only the right hand part. The texture is filled out in a version reconstructed by Holsbergen and apparently including elements from Hess 332. The Anglaise in G major, Bia. 48, has a second, fuller version in the Fischhof Miscellany in Berlin, but is also found in the Kafka Miscellany in The British Library. The Berlin version [9] wanders into new ground. Both are largely given as right hand melodies.

The 18 sketches listed under Bia. 96 give a fascinating picture of Beethoven experimenting with possible ideas. Varying in length, key and mood, these sketches are described by Holsbergen, co-founder with Mark Zimmer of The Unheard Beethoven, and can be seen on Adagio and Allegro for Piano, Biamonti 96 and associated sketches (1800–1802). The Sketch for Piano Sonata in E flat major, Bia. 98, from a similar date, has a gap, filled, at Holsbergen’s suggestion, by the composer’s instruction ‘so fort herunter und wilder herauf (‘so on down and up again’)’. On the same sketch leaf, SV 329, as Bia. 96, is an Allegretto for piano, a work and sketches lacking further identification.

Intermezzo for Sonata in C minor, Bia. 191 (possible sketches for Piano Sonata No. 5 or No. 8) is revised by Holsbergen. Sonata No. 5, in C minor and dedicated to Countess von Browne, was completed in 1798. The suggested Intermezzo is in C major. Reconstructed by Holsbergen, the fragments suggesting horns, the second extended, Bia. 268, are first given in a transcription by Arnold Schmitz and then in extended arrangement by Holsbergen. The Andante molto, listed as Bia. 269 and transcribed by Schmitz, offers a simple piece, a right hand melody accompanied by the left. There follows a similar transcription, from 1793, of a few bars of a conclusion, Bia. 270. Bia. 271 is a very short fragment transcribed by Schmitz. Bia. 272 is another very short fragment – also a Schmitz transcription, to which Petersson has added a final B flat chord. It is followed by a fuller version reconstructed by Holsbergen. Bia. 273 is a Sketch, dated 1793, with a reconstruction by Holsbergen. Sketches in C major and G major, Bia. 276 is reconstructed by Holsbergen. Passage, Bia. 280, is a very brief fragment, a final chord added by Petersson. Allegro, Bia. 284 is revised by Holsbergen, with relatively little change to the original.

Sketch in E flat major, Bia. 317, dating from 1802, is taken from the Kressler Sketchbook, which takes its name from the 19th-century composer and pianist Joseph Christoph Kessler, who had the sketchbook from the last of the Stein family of piano makers. Bia. 318, Sketch for Piano Sonata in A minor, of 1802 has the note ‘Second Sonata’ written on the manuscript. Revised by Holsbergen, this a more extended fragment. There follows Bia. 319, a suggested finale element for the Eroica Variations. Bia. 345 is a fugal subject, from the Wielhorsky Sketchbook, the source of the fugal fragment Bia. 346. The brief fragment Bia. 720 is preserved in a notebook held by the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and Bia. 849 is found in Gustav Nottebohm’s pioneering second Beethoveniana of 1887.

Keith Anderson


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