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Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonate für Klavier und Violoncello (A-Dur) op. 69, 1. Satz, Partitur, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, NE 179

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Concerning the degeneration of an autograph score

The first movement of the Sonata for Violoncello and Piano op. 69 was one of the Beethoven-Haus' most important and precious acquisitions in the 1990s. A complete autograph score of the sonata has not survived. This first movement in a first version is the only surviving source in Beethoven's own hand apart from the sketches. The structure of the gathering and the musical text lead one to suppose that the manuscript was once complete and contained all the movements. Beethoven is probably responsible for the fragmentation himself (following several proofreading phases the manuscript became so illegible that he possibly did not feel he could impose it on anyone, not even the best copyist). The autograph manuscript shown here does not contain the last version, but rather reflects the genesis of the work in several different stages. Beethoven began the musical text as a fair copy - the first page (image 2) looks neat and tidy, one could easily play from the text. In the course of work on the composition, however, the quality of the score degenerates to that of a sketch. Three layers can be discerned in total. The first layer contains a complete version of the first movement, which clearly deviates from the printed version of the original edition. Two layers of corrections can be seen on top of this early version. Whereas the original version was written in light ink and with a fine quill, the revisions were done with different darker inks, wider quills and also in red crayon. At several points the corrections are so vehement that the first layer underneath can only be read with great difficulty. Despite the numerous revisions the autograph score does in no way reflect the final printed version. Beethoven almost certainly produced a second complete manuscript, which has no longer survived. The composer also carried out further improvements in the engraver's model, and indeed even once the original edition had been published.

Sieghard Brandenburg edited a facsimile edition of the autograph score of the first version, including a comprehensive commentary. A reconstruction of this version of the first movement of the sonata has also been included (publication of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Neue Folge, Series 3, Vol. 7, Bonn 1992). (J.R.)

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