Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet in B-flat major op. 130 / Grande Fugue in B-flat major op. 133
“Unintelligible, like Chinese”, a contemporary Viennese critic remarked on the premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Große Fuge op. 133 in March 1826. Before Beethoven penned a more concise finale, the Große Fuge concluded his String Quartet in B-flat major op. 130, a remarkable work in every sense of the word and one of the boldest of its time. With its six movements, it defies traditional form and today, it is regarded as a pinnacle among Beethoven’s late string quartets.
After the composer’s death, the original manuscript suffered a strange fate. It was separated into movements and distributed to different owners.
The parts of the autograph strewn across libraries in Europe and the United States have now been reunited in this facsimile edition for the first time in over 190 years.
The facsimile is rendered in high-quality colour printing, reproducing the autograph in such detail that Beethoven’s correction process where he pasted over previous entries becomes evident. Without disturbing the bibliophilic overall impression, movement and measure numbers have been added to each page to facilitate usage. An Introduction by renowned musicologist Ulrich Konrad, winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, elaborates on the work’s distinctive features and its history.
Missa solemnis op. 123
Beethoven struggled with the “Missa solemnis” for years, searching for a highly personal way to deal with the words and musical traditions of the Mass Ordinary. In the end he produced a work that leaves no listeners cold - some are puzzled but a great many are deeply moved.
The autograph reflects how intensively he worked on the “Missa solemnis” and what a difficult work process it was. Apart from the many corrections there are several torn-out pages. Sometimes Beethoven could only proceed by stitching replacement pages into the manuscript.
Beethoven authority Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen unveils the stages of its genesis in an understandable and rather detective-like manner. In addition Martina Rebmann explains how this and other autographs were gradually acquired for the Beethoven collection in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek.
Reproduced in high-quality four-colour printing, the facsimile replicates the page stubs and fold-out pages, thereby emulating the feel of the original source. Judicious inscriptions with movement headings, continuous pagination, scholarly foliation and measure numbers help readers to find their way more easily in the manuscript.
Symphony No. 9 op. 125
With his ninth symphony, Beethoven ventured into new musical dimensions. In the final movement, soloists and chorus join forces with the orchestra and Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” becomes a global aspiration, a declaration: “Alle Menschen werden Brüder! / All mankind becomes brothers.”
In his commentary the great Beethoven scholar Lewis Lockwood describes the plea which Beethoven wanted to deliver at that time with this work and how views of this have changed over the centuries. Jonathan Del Mar, a renowned editor of Beethoven’s works, comments on noteworthy passages in the autograph manuscript and allows the reader to share in the composer’s working process. Already the large-format paper which Beethoven used for some passages makes the large forces clear. Cuts, sometimes reversed later, show how he wrestled with the final version of the musical text and refined it right down to the last detail.
The history of the autograph manuscript reflects an episode in German history: after storage in various places because of the war, the major parts were returned to Berlin but were initially divided by the Berlin Wall and only reunited in 1990. Martina Rebmann who is the Director of the Music Department at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin traces this story.
In 1972 the main theme of the last movement was chosen by the Council of Europe as the European anthem and in 1985 it was adopted by the European Community as its official anthem. In 2001 the manuscript was listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
For the first time the facsimile presents all the parts of the manuscript including pages preserved in Bonn and Paris as well as the trombone and contrabassoon parts.