Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) Rondo in Bb major WoO 6
Original Finale of the Piano Concerto No. 2 – Urtext based on the new Complete Edition (G. Henle Verlag) edited by Hans-Werner Küthen [pno,orch] Duration: 10'
solo: pno – 18.104.22.168. – 22.214.171.124. – str
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Mozart no doubt proved a powerful source of inspiration in the genre of the piano concerto when Ludwig van Beethoven was composing his first work in this genre (B-flat major op. 19) in Bonn. In 1793 the young composer first wrote a final rondo with an inserted Andante, as Mozart had done in his Concerto K. 482. Beethoven then selected a different closing solution and kept the score of the B-flat major Rondo in his desk. There the work was rediscovered only after the composers death, and printed shortly afterward. The autograph thus represents Beethovens earliest surviving and complete orchestral score. The new Urtext edition of the score and orchestral parts is based on the new Beethoven Complete Edition (Henle).
The Rondo in B flat major WoO 6 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770– 1827) originally constituted the closing movement of his Piano Concerto no. 2 op. 19. Its compositional structure shares a distinct kinship with Mozart, in particular through the unusual insertion of an Andante. This reference is most likely the reason why the piece was rejected as the closing movement by the time that the Concerto had reached its third version (1794–95). In the 1780s, the genre of the piano concerto had established itself on the Continent within the new parameters set by Mozart and had blossomed so richly that Beethoven also had to re-orient himself – a situation made vividly clear by the altogether four versions of the B-flat major Concerto.1
The Rondo WoO 6 is probably a second version written in 1793, constituting an early Bonn version that was revised in Vienna. It is today considered as certain that Beethoven had originally planned WoO 6 to be the closing movement of the first two versions of his B-flat major Concerto. Not only the identical scoring precludes coincidences, but also – a weightier reason yet – the almost note-fornote borrowing of a sufficiently distinctive motivic group from WoO 6 (mm. 346–348 and 353–355) in comparable passages at a similar stage of the final Rondo of op. 19 (mm. 283–285 and 291–293), both of which instances are congruent with their respective repetition. The fact that Beethoven draws on his earlier Rondo is clearly evident in its source2 at the same above-mentioned passages, which were included in the definitive finale of op. 19. The sole articulation in the entire solo part is found in these measures of the Vienna autograph; it can be assumed that it was supplemented post factum during the almost literal borrowing of these measures in the definitive finale. Moreover, the idea of an Andante insert goes back to an earlier notation to be found in the “Kafka” sketch miscellany3, and its thematic borrowing proves the Vienna autograph of WoO 6 to be a second version, as mentioned above.
Beethoven could not decide whether to destroy or to publish the autograph of this final movement, but kept it among his musical manuscripts until his death. Besides confirming what one might call a historical sense of the composer’s own creative development, it proves his personal esteem for a piece that deserved to be preserved not as an alternative but rather as a remembrance of his creative treatment of a model by Mozart. It thus remains the earliest surviving autograph of a complete score by Beethoven. Its original musical text was first published in the new Beethoven Complete Edition.4 And it shares a remarkable feature with Mozart: at almost the same point in the transition from the slow, 62-measure-long Andante- Intermezzo back to the Rondo-Allegro, it is impossible not to sense the same difficulties that Mozart had also encountered at his “Tempo I” transition. If, in the finale of his E-flat major Piano Concerto K. 482, Mozart inserted an “Andantino cantabile” section in the middle of a Rondo movement, then Beethoven might have seen this as an iridescent exception that was worthy of being emulated or, perhaps, even surpassed. Beethoven’s attempt to tackle this challenge is clearly visible in his autograph and was probably reason enough for him to replace this finale with a more conventional closing movement without a slow insert.
WoO 6 was published posthumously in 1829 by Anton Diabelli et Comp. in Vienna. Carl Czerny modernised the text after the autograph and expanded the treble range up to f4. Although his arrangement cannot be considered as authorised by the composer, we have nevertheless followed the articulation which he added in the piano part, in line with that of the orchestral instruments. The primary source for the present edition is Beethoven’s autograph score. For a more detailed description of the sources and readings, please consult the Critical Report of the above-mentioned Complete Edition.5
The editor and publisher are grateful to all the libraries and institutions that have supplied source material.
Bonn, Spring 2012
1) Cf. further details in the Preface to op. 19 in: Beethoven Werke. Gesamtausgabe, section III, vol. 2, Klavierkonzerte I, ed. by Hans-Werner Küthen, Munich, 1984, as well as in the corresponding piano reduction of G. Henle Publishers, Munich, 1991, HN 434.
2) Autograph score, Vienna, Archiv der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, shelfmark A3.
3) London, British Library, shelfmark Add. Ms. 29 801, fol. 75v.
4) Beethoven Werke. Gesamtausgabe, section III, vol. 5, Klavierkonzerte III, ed. by Hans-Werner Küthen, Munich, 2004 [= BGA III /5].
5) BGA III /5, p. 162.