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Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
#3001868 07/12/20 03:03 PM
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Again a detail that bothers me: 4th movement, bar 78, right hand, last 4 notes: some editions write e f e f, others g f e f, the first alternative is played more, the second is more in sync with the rest of the figuration (awfully difficult btw), what does one prefer and why?


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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3001923 07/12/20 06:14 PM
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Was it maybe a thing of the pianos of that time not having that G?

(If I wanted to do another half minute of work grin I'd look through the rest of the piece and see if there are any notes that high or higher, and if I didn't find any and I wanted to be more thorough, I'd look through all of Beethoven's earlier works to see if there aren't any notes that high, but since I don't want to work that hard, I'll just leave it as a question for you. ha

BTW, that's what I suspect: Beethoven's piano at that time didn't have the G.

Mozart's music is full of little thingees like that which came about because his piano didn't have the logical higher notes, and then we have the little dilemma of whether to play as written or to play the notes that Mozart 'obviously would have written' (?) if he had them.

And, I know of at least one example like that in Beethoven, in Op. 10 #3.
In fact, if I went and looked exactly what notes are involved there, I could maybe get the answer for this, but I don't want to do even that amount of extra work. grin

BTW, looks like it's actually measure 77, not 78.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3001948 07/12/20 07:23 PM
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I prefer the g f e f because that's the way I learned it, and, as you say, its more in sync with with rest of the figuration. And yes, it is difficult. I never knew (until now) that there was another option.

Coincidentally, my Peters edition gives an e f g f option (ossia) for the last four RH notes of both measures 44 and 46 instead of e f e f. At the time I stuck with e f e f .

I believe Mark's theory is correct. I just did a quick perusal of all sonatas from opus 2 through 28 and could not find another "g" - other than the last four notes of measure 104 in the 1st movement of Opus 10 No. 3. In fact, this time its a g sharp. smile What's written is g# e d# e - but the logical sequence (shown in the score as an ossia) would be g# g# f double sharp g#


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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3001984 07/12/20 09:32 PM
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Here are a couple of pretty definite examples of writing a variant from what would seem to be the logical thing that was due to running out of keys on the existing piano:


It's the nice variant figure at just about 21:00. If you compare it to how it is the first time around (phrase starting at 18:13), you hear that Mozart is going a little out of his way; he just wouldn't have been able to do it how it was before.
BUT -- this variant is so wonderful that I don't think anyone in their right mind would consider putting it to what it might have been.

On the other hand, in this Beethoven example some people (not many) do put it to where it might have been, but here it is as written:



In this case we need to look at it sort of backwards, starting with how it comes in the second time, at 5:33 (and the passage leading up to it).
That time, the sequence goes "all the way up."
The first time, at 1:24 (and the passage leading up to it), it gets sort of 'tethered' at the end. Nothing wrong with it, need I say grin .....and really I think it's better this way than if it went "all the way up" this time as well as in the recap -- but, for what it's worth, it seems that the reason Beethoven did it that way the first time was that he had to; as I understand, his piano at that time didn't go where it would have had to go if we continued up.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002039 07/13/20 04:07 AM
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I believe Mark is correct. The late 18th century piano of Beethoven extended from F To F (no F sharp nor G). From beginning of 19th century, manufacturer started to add more notes and by 1815 there was an additional octave above and a fourth down to C. Note that Beethoven may not have even used that capability as not all players could afford these new pianos.

I am not aware of this particular case. The good example i know is the opus 10 n3, in bar 22, the first edition has an E. Most modern edition have corrected that note and put an F sharp which did not exist on Beethoven piano.

Every case is different, in some places Beethoven designed a work around which is more effective than trying to correct the existing score. In some others it makes sense to change because it works better and surely Beethoven would have used it, if he had the right piano. You have to try both and see what works best.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002048 07/13/20 04:46 AM
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The other example i am aware is the opus 31 n2 last movement. The initial exposition in A minor in bars 70 to 90 goes up to the subdominant D and should in the recap go up to G, but instead Beethoven rewrote the whole section and limits the top note to be only D. It works quite well so obviously no need to make any change there.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002058 07/13/20 06:34 AM
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It's exciting to see how Beethoven made use of the expanding keyboard, and how he used the very extremes available to him and reveled in a new added note like a kid that just received a new toy. Boris Giltbrug gives a nice video explanation of the famous "Contra E" that Beethoven writes in the sonata Op. 101 and actually builds the whole climax of the sonata around.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002060 07/13/20 07:02 AM
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Honorable mention to sonata op.10/1 in C Minor, first movement. In the development, there is an f#6.
I am not aware of alternatives by Beethoven or others.
Could it be that Beethoven wrote his entire op.10 for someone who happened to have a bigger keyboard?

Last edited by patH; 07/13/20 07:03 AM.

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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
patH #3002064 07/13/20 07:09 AM
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Interesting. I just looked at the Henle edition, and they have that note (a G flat) between brackets. But there is no extra note about it.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
patH #3002088 07/13/20 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by patH
Honorable mention to sonata op.10/1 in C Minor, first movement. In the development, there is an f#6.
I am not aware of alternatives by Beethoven or others.
Could it be that Beethoven wrote his entire op.10 for someone who happened to have a bigger keyboard?

You have to look at the first edition. In bar 128, thats a g flat. In this edition there is only the lower G flat in a place where all the other notes are in octave, so Beethoven did not put in this high G flat which did not exist in his piano. Modern edition supplement by adding the top G flat in bracket to indicate it is editorial change.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002112 07/13/20 10:23 AM
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Ah, it's a G flat, not an F sharp. My bad.
And I had forgotten about the brackets.

But still, does it mean that Beethoven wrote this sonata for someone with a big keyboard, and put the brackets there because he knew that most pianists of this time would not have the G flat/F sharp? And did he write op 10/3 for someone else than he wrote op 10/1 for?


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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
patH #3002122 07/13/20 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by patH
Ah, it's a G flat, not an F sharp. My bad.
And I had forgotten about the brackets.

But still, does it mean that Beethoven wrote this sonata for someone with a big keyboard, and put the brackets there because he knew that most pianists of this time would not have the G flat/F sharp? And did he write op 10/3 for someone else than he wrote op 10/1 for?

In fact that high G flat was not there. Beethoven wrote only the low G flat. The other G flat one octave higher is not there and there are no brackets at all. The additional G flat and the brackets have been added subsequently by editors when piano got more extended. I think by now everybody assumes Beethoven would have put the g flat if he had a piano that could play it.

Take a look at the first edition which is on imslp.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002250 07/13/20 05:19 PM
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it must have been the lack of the high g indeed, but the g f e f variety still seems more musical to me, i'll stick with that, stupid little piano's of that day, Beethoven also must/might have thought haha


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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002254 07/13/20 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
it must have been the lack of the high g indeed, but the g f e f variety still seems more musical to me...

Yes -- and BTW this is going to sound silly but I'd call it an "and," not a "but"! grin
(it reinforces what your feeling had been, not goes against it)

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
dolce sfogato #3002256 07/13/20 05:29 PM
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Very helpful, makes me play it a lot better.


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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
Sidokar #3002370 07/14/20 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by patH
Ah, it's a G flat, not an F sharp. My bad.
And I had forgotten about the brackets.

But still, does it mean that Beethoven wrote this sonata for someone with a big keyboard, and put the brackets there because he knew that most pianists of this time would not have the G flat/F sharp? And did he write op 10/3 for someone else than he wrote op 10/1 for?

In fact that high G flat was not there. Beethoven wrote only the low G flat. The other G flat one octave higher is not there and there are no brackets at all. The additional G flat and the brackets have been added subsequently by editors when piano got more extended. I think by now everybody assumes Beethoven would have put the g flat if he had a piano that could play it.

Take a look at the first edition which is on imslp.
I just checked my own edition, which is an Urtext edition by Könemann, Budapest. The high G flat is there, not in brackets. So I had not forgotten about the brackets; I never knew they were there in the first place. wink

But this shows that "Urtext" apparently is not that meaningful, and that notes in a modern score are in fact more guidelines than rules.


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Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
patH #3002373 07/14/20 02:08 AM
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Sidokar has explained it really well, but here's a snapshot of the first edition, where the G flat is not in octaves.

Originally Posted by patH
But this shows that "Urtext" apparently is not that meaningful, and that notes in a modern score are in fact more guidelines than rules.
I think it mostly shows that "Urtext" has become more of a marketing word, and that "original" is a relative concept decided by editors. Some changes are made and taken for granted, like this added octave, or in Bach and earlier music, changing a soprano clef into a treble clef, or changing a dorian key signature to a normal one. I think what one pays for in a good "Urtext" edition is the critical notes at the end, not the score itself.

I wouldn't describe notes as "rules"- they are instructions. It's a musician's job to read and understand the instructions as thoroughly and as faithfully as possible. But notation is a system of symbols used to represent a language that lives in sound, so it remains necessarily imperfect and incomplete (just think of the hundreds of things like natural accents and inflections that we can't and don't represent in notation, just like we don't represent them in the written form of our spoken language), and its use and degree of sophistication are tied to context and tradition. So one can't get away with ignoring those and assuming notation is somehow universal, ahistorical, or absolute. But I don't think it also means the notes are a rough guideline- there's still so much more to be said in familiar, overplayed works only by reading and interpreting the instructions better.

Re: Beethoven sonata no.4 op.7
patH #3002389 07/14/20 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by patH
I just checked my own edition, which is an Urtext edition by Könemann, Budapest. The high G flat is there, not in brackets. So I had not forgotten about the brackets; I never knew they were there in the first place. wink

But this shows that "Urtext" apparently is not that meaningful, and that notes in a modern score are in fact more guidelines than rules.

Each editor has a different policy regarding changes. Even in the most serious urtext, there are changes which are done but not indicated, the editor would consider those as errors, and those where there is a doubt (per the editor musical judgement) as to what is the right/faithfull version, in which case they are documented in the critical notes. In this case K thought, i assume, that adding the second G is a no brainer but Henle puts the brackets as the note is not there to start with. 2 different editing policy.

The older the sources, the more changes are done. In certain cases there are different sources, multiple editions, autographs, with differences between them. The editor must make decisions as to which one is the "correct" one. There may be false notes, the first edition may have made mistakes as well, ... in Scarlatti for example, where there is only one main source, most of the time, which is a copy, there are often what may seem like copying errors. For example two similar passages but with some differences; did Scarlatti want these changes or is it a copy error ?

The work of an editor is complex. It is a mix of musical judgement, an extremely good knowledge of the style of the composer, historical research to determine any evidence supporting a decidion. Did the composer proof read or not the first edition ? Which source is more reliable, should the modern edition adjust the notation to modern standards or not. Indeed like Ainar said, in most urtext, the C or F minor key signature of Bach or Kunhau and others (and score) based on the D dorian scale with one less flat, is modernized by adding a flat, but Henle keeps the original one. The ornamentation of Bach is completely different in autographs and students copies, which version should the editor take ?

There is not one good answer, and new sources are uncovered regularly which may change our perspective on some details.


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