Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) Symphony No. 6 in F major Op. 68
(Pastorale) – Urtext edited by Peter Hauschild [orch] duration: 40'
picc.184.108.40.206. – 220.127.116.11. – timp – str
Hauschild’s new edition is based on all the major primary sources: autograph, first edition of the parts, copies of the score supervised by Beethoven, and the first edition of the score.
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Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (“Pastorale”) was written in the summer months of 1807 and 1808. The first performance of the work – along with that of the Fifth Symphony – took place on 22 December 1808 as part of a musical “Akademie,” or subscription concert, in the Theater an der Wien under the direction of the composer.
Peter Hauschild’s Urtext edition of the “Pastorale” is based on all the important primary sources: autograph, first edition of the parts (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1809), copies of scores supervised by Beethoven and, finally, the first edition of the score. Hauschild has combined source criticism and the requirements of performance practice while also keeping the Critical Report succinct and easy to grasp; this makes the editorial decisions easy to trace.
|1. Awakening of Cheerful Feelings upon an Arrival in the Country - Allegro ma non troppo|
|2. Scene by the Brook - Andante molto mosso|
|3. Merry Gathering of Country Folk - Allegro|
|4. Thunderstorm - Allegro|
|5. Shepherd's Song: Happy and Thankful Feelings after the Storm - Allegretto|
Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his Sixth Symphony chiefly during the summer months of the years 1807 and 1808, which he spent in Baden and Heiligenstadt, towns in the countryside around Vienna which the composer was particularly fond of. He wrote to Therese Malfatti, confiding: “How lucky you are to be able to go so soon to the country; I cannot enjoy that happiness until the eighth. I am happy as a child at the thought of it … No man loves the country more than I; for do not forests, trees and rocks echo what mankind longs for?”
Beethoven’s intimate relationship with nature, which was repeatedly attested to, places him in a direct line with Rousseau, Goethe and the German Romantics who, in their turn, were also searching for that “echo”, the creative dialogue with a sphere of being that was still pristine, in spite of the onset of the industrial era.
Similarly to the Fourth Symphony of 1806, the Sixth Symphony was also written between 1804 and 1808, at the same time that the composer was working – albeit with several interruptions – on the Fifth. Both “even-numbered” works offer complementary, more introspective alternatives to the Fifth, a monument of symphonic drama.
Beethoven sketched the themes of the first, third, fourth and fifth movements of the Pastoral during the summer of 1807. The following summer, he wrote out the bulk of the composition after completing the Fifth Symphony, for which not only the autograph but also a number of sketches have survived. The composer presented copies of the two symphonies to the publisher Gottfried Christoph Härtel in September 1808. They were first published in parts by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig in April and May 1809; the publication in orchestral parts was not only customary but exclusive at that time. The two works were given their first performances in a concert, or “Akademie”, conducted by the composer at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 22 December 1808.
Eschewing tragic and heroic emotions, the Pastoral betrays a relaxed and sensitive awareness of the sounds and images of nature. This expresses itself in, among other things, various elements of tonepainting which offered the composer a palette of established formulae to which he could apply his craftsmanship, and which could look back on a long tradition.
Beethoven, however, wielded these set forms with the highest compositional mastery, heightening them in the sense of the descriptive title he added to the first edition: “More an expression of feeling than painting.”
It was from an ancient shepherd’s tune that Beethoven derived the calling motif of the clarinet that opens the final movement. This motif, which gravitates around the notes of the six-four chord, is immediately answered by the horn. One finds more or less identical call-and-answer motifs in pastoral pieces written before Beethoven’s day. Indeed, this motif has been identified as a typical natural-horn signal sequence which is still used to this day chiefly in the Alpine countries, but also in other regions as well. Beethoven sets it to the archaic accompaniment of the hurdy-gurdy or bagpipe drone bass in fifths. This drone bass, along with a melodic paraphrase of the aforementioned “nature tone” motif, characterizes the principal theme of the first movement, Awakening of happy feelings on arriving in the country. Allegro ma non troppo, the origin of which becomes apparent at the end of the exposition, when the theme is reduced to a persistent repetition of the interval of a falling fourth. Repetitions above the drone bass – the expression of “down-to-earth” constancy and introspective standstill – also characterize the development section, which rejects all discursive motivic elaboration in order to unfold veritable “soundscapes” with the help of repeated descending triadic figures in shifting keys. The second movement, Scene by the brook. Andante molto moto, adds to the iconographic vocabulary of the Pastoral the tone-painting element of flowing water depicted by the steady “murmur” of the string figures. Above this the composer unfolds “vocal” instrumental scenes that are repeatedly answered by a “refrain” that melodically fills in the “nature interval” of the falling fourth in an intimate dolce. The birdsong evocations – of nightingale, quail and cuckoo – heard shortly before the close are derived from the figurative activity found previously in this movement.
The Scherzo movement Merry gathering of country folk evokes Brueghel’s paintings of peasants. It again emphasizes the interval of the fourth in its main section, but even more so in the intermezzo in 2/4 time which depicts a rustic stomping dance. The trio episode paints an amusing portrait of village musicians who are no longer quite sure of the beat. Here the simple bass tones of a “thwarted” bassoon accompaniment contrast effectively with the graceful oboe melody.
The abridged recapitulation of the third movement leads attacca into the fourth movement, Thunderstorm; Tempest. Allegro. It begins pianissimo in D flat major, with the eerily scurrying eighth notes of the storm motif which, incidentally, the composer had already designated as such in a sketch. The F minor fortissimo that then crashes forth in a blare of trumpets, timpani and trombones derives its harrowing effect above all from the massive use of the minor mode, which makes its first appearance here in a work that had progressed exclusively in the sunny spheres of the major mode up to then. This contemplative “tonal inertia” is jolted into activity by a stream of modulations and sequences of diminished seventh chords. At the same time, the drone bass reminiscences of the basses are transformed into the menacing rumbling of thunder interspersed with the leaping “lightning” figures of the strings by means of the parallel voice-leading of running sixteenth notes and sixteenth-note quintuplets. This is further intensified by the scales in the bass register which seem to sink into unfathomable depths, and by the whistling sustained notes of the piccolo. The thunderstorm eventually winds down, ebbing away in pianissimo with sheet lightning from which a grateful sigh of relief emerges in the dolce, chorale-like melody. In this melody, the staccato eighth notes of the storm motif are rhythmically augmented into slurred half notes. Thus the close of the storm movement also offers a lyrical summary of the patterns, the fifth-sixth-fifth alternations (nightingale trills!) and descending scale figures that had been motivically relevant in the first three movements.
In the finale, Shepherd’s song: Happy, thankful feelings after the storm. Allegretto, the initial, bare original motif of the Pastoral is first heard in the C major key of the close of the storm movement. The main key of F major then appears, followed (up to the eighth bar) by a sound interference that radiates a delightful atmospheric charm, but that nonetheless follows an earlier model found in Beethoven’s symphonic music: the horn entry in the tonic above the accompaniment in the dominant which occurs at the end of the development in the first movement of the Eroica, Op. 55. This gives rise to the goal and crowning point of the entire symphony, the F major hymn. The melody is thus removed from its “nature” sphere characterized by repetition, and transported into a sphere of freely unfolding forms. The central tone here is no longer the placidly introspective keynote, but the third, the intervallic tone of fulfilled inwardness. With this melodic theme that creates an overarching curve that consolidates the shortsegmented thematic structures of the previous movements before building up to an ecstatic climax, the Pastoral resembles the other three symphonies with song-like hymns in the finale: the Eroica, the Fifth and the Ninth. Beethoven draws one last logical conclusion towards the end of the movement: the rudimentary six-four chord suggested by the motif of the shepherd’s call is elaborated in the intimacy of the pianissimo “sotto voce” and led directly into the melody which, in its turn, also leads back to the third.
Proceeding from the standard scoring of the first movement – two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two french horns and string orchestra – , Beethoven gave each of the following movements a distinctive sound quality: con sordino playing of the two solo celli and, according to the manuscript sources, of the first and second violins as well in the second movement; the addition of the two trumpets in the 2/4-meter Intermezzo of the third movement; piccolo, two trumpets, timpani and two trombones in the storm movement. In the fifth movement, Beethoven retained the instrumental spectrum of the fourth movement except for the omission of the piccolo and timpani. However, the orchestra is now treated with greater circumspection: the tutti always only appears after a crescendo build-up that grows out of the piano sphere.
In addition to the autograph score and the first edition of the parts, the extant sources also include a substantial amount of the manuscript parts used for the premiere as well as two copies of the score. While the first of these copies was used by the engraver for the first edition, the second was sent by Beethoven in 1818 with a newly transcribed fourth movement as a conducting score to the Philharmonic Society in Laibach, the present-day Ljubljana (Slovenia). Beethoven had been made an honorary member of this society. The work was not published in score until 1825/26, when Breitkopf & Härtel had it engraved exclusively from the first copy of the score, ignoring the first edition of the parts in which a number of the composer’s corrections and emendations had been carried out by the publisher.
This new edition is based on the autograph and the aforementioned sources that issue directly from it. The “Kritischer Bericht” (Critical Notes) and the respective textual notes provide information on the principles and details of the editorial work. The many variants in the readings of the different sources were examined with respect to their musical and performance-practical relevance. They were then selected in such a way as to maintain an adequate balance with the music section and to ensure that everything is as clear as possible for the user, who should not be distracted from grasping what is essential here. Divergences that clearly only result from blurredness and omissions made during the copying process and the engraving of the music were taken into consideration under a general observation. We have primarily listed all the details for which Beethoven’s artistic intent cannot be completely excluded, particularly when his addenda go beyond the state of the autograph.
Beethoven dedicated the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies to Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz and Count Andreas von Razumovsky. The first, to whom Beethoven had previously dedicated the Eroica, maintained a private orchestra in his Vienna palace, which he placed at the disposition of Beethoven for the purpose of rehearsing the symphonies at his – the Prince’s – own costs.
Beethoven laid down the metronomic indications – encompassing all symphonies from 1 to 8 – at a later point in time and sent them to the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in Leipzig, which published them in its issue of 17 December 1817.
We wish to express our thanks to the directors and staff of all the libraries and archives mentioned in the source listing for putting the source material at our disposal.
Leipzig, Spring 2001
We offer a PDF of the complete text with all notes for download.