Beethoven and the Violin – Three sessions for the Exhale 2020

Posted on September 23rd, 2020 by

Beethoven and the Violin – Three sessions for the Exhale

It is easy to forget that Beethoven began his professional life as a string player, working in the Bonn Electoral orchestra, justly celebrated as one of the greatest of its day. Throughout his life, his relationship with the violin remained a tactile one – his vision of the instrument was from the inside.

This set of talks explores aspects of this relationship. Peter’s recordings of the complete Beethoven Sonatas are critically acclaimed, and he was giving a lecture recital on Beethoven at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City when lockdown was imposed this Spring.

Resources below for each talk

  1. Beethoven the violinist 

What do we know of Beethoven’s early violin studies with Franz Ries, in Bonn? How was he taught? What impact did those early lessons have on his later work as a teacher? Who were his colleagues and collaborators prior to his departure for Vienna at the end of 1792, and how did they influence his later work and thinking?

A glimpse of the young Beethogven as virtuoso pianist and violinist. From the first movement of his piano/violin transcription of the first of his 3 early ‘Bonn’ piano quartets (written when he was 15)
Franz Ries 1755-1846
The cover of Fiorillo’s 36 Caprices
Andreas Romberg, who could have been found playing chamber music with Antoine Reicha, Bernhard Romberg and Beethoven in Bonn in 1790
Helene van Breuning, children: Eleonore, Christoph, Lorenz,(brother Abraham),and Stephan
Everyday imspiratio on our wall. An early 19th century depiction of ‘The last meeting of Charlotte and Werter [sic]’ which figured in today’s talk.
Anton Reicha (1770-1836) Charles-Louis Constans after a painting by Louis Walter
Andreas Romberg, who began life as a virtuoso violinist, went on to enjoy considerable acclaim as a composer of large oratorios. This Piano/violin sonata was based on Scottish melodies, which found their way to Vienna because of the work of G S THomson, for whom Beethoven arranged nearly 300 folksongs.
Beeethoven repaid Franz Ries’ kindness to him as a teenager by teaching his brilliant son Ferdinand, nearly 20 years later. The slow movement of Ries’ E Flat Sonata demonstrates both the older man’s impact and Ries’s profound originality
Andreas & Bernhard Romberg – Variations on Mozart
‘Se Vuol Ballare’ (Peter Sheppard Skaerved with Yves Savary – Cello)
Beethoven – Variations on Mozart ‘Se Vuol Ballare’ WoO41 (Peter Sheppard Skaerved with Aaron Shorr-Piano)
The first movement of Reicha’s C minor has a close relationship with Mozart – just listen to the opening. In addition, Reicha and Beethoven seem to have coordinated their Op 48/49 & Op 18 sets of quartets
  • Beethoven the collaborator i. Working with Schuppanzigh
Beethoven Op 30 No 3 Manuscript – Collaboration at work

As soon as Beethoven arrived in Vienna he sought out teachers – Albrechtsberger for counterpoint, Salieri for vocal writing, and Ignaz von Schuppanzigh for the violin. This developed into one of the most fruitful composer-performer collaborations. Where can we see them ‘at work’? How do we open the door of their ‘composer’s workshop’. With a particularly focus on the Op 30 Sonatas for Piano with violin accompaniment.

Schuppanzigh, Ignaz – Sketch by Joseph Danhauser
joseph mayseder, who founded the ‘Dukaten-Konzerte’ in Vienna with Hummel and the guitarist Mauro Giulani.
The Czar in the year of this Accession, by Vladimir Borovikovsky. His god-daughter, Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria), was baptised Alexandrina Victoria in his honour)

Tsaritsa Elizabeth Alexeievna, formerly Princess Louise of Baden
(by Élisabeth Vigée-le Brun)
 Double portrait of Moritz Christian Johann, Graf von Fries (1777-1825/6) and his wife Maria Theresia Josepha, Prinzessin zu Hohenlohe Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst (1779-1819), in a black dress and a yellow Indian shawl
Slur shaping and early ‘tie’ conventions in the Menuet of Op 30 no 3
Suppressing a ‘forte’ . Beethoven says ‘no’
A playlist of the 3 Sonatas Op 30
Beethovenb would begin working with the great Franz Clement in 1803, the year that the Op 30 Sonatas were published
  • Beethoven the collaborator ii. Working with Bridgetower, Rode, Kreutzer
Beethoven Canon (August 3 1825) on the practice desk
Op 47 Sonata ‘Kreutzer’
Erzherzog Rudolphe by Johann Baptist von Lampi
Op 96 Sonata
Pierre Rode by Henri Grevedon
The opening of Pierre Rode’s 1794 Air Varie
Opening and dedication of the Sonata orginally dedicated to Bridgetower
George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower
The C major Cadenza point 1st Movement Sonata Op 47
Bridgetower’s answer to Beehoven’s improvised Cadenza
Rodolphe Kreutzer by Riedel
Samuel Wesley
The opening of Wesley’s 1797 Concertante Sonata

Link to Samuel Wesley Concertante Sonata LINK

Brighton Chain Pier-September 11th 1832 (anonymous drawing-Sheppard-Skaerved collection)
Tuning fork given to Bridgetower by Beethoven

As well as his long collaboration with Schuppanzigh, Beethoven was profoundly affected by the foreign virtuosi who visited Vienna. Each of them made an impact on his writing and affected his thinking about music. What ideas did they bring to him, about violin technique, and different approaches to music-making.

These talks, illustrated, at the violin, as always, will be of interest to both the general audience and specialists. They are always followed by 30 minutes of discussion; the fascinating ideas which participants often bring are incorporated into the development of the subsequent presentations.