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      1 #+title: The Beethoven Cello Sonatas
      2 #+author: Jamie Beardslee
      3 #+date: <2020-03-20 Fri>
      4 #+options: toc:nil date:nil num:nil ':yes
      5 
      6 #+begin_export html
      7 <p><b>Note:</b> This paper is also available as a  <a href="Beethoven.pdf">pdf</a></p>
      8 #+end_export
      9 
     10 #+name: version-and-paper
     11 #+begin_src lilypond :exports none
     12   \version "2.19"
     13   \language "english"
     14   \paper{
     15     indent=0\mm
     16     line-width=170\mm
     17     oddFooterMarkup=##f
     18     oddHeaderMarkup=##f
     19     bookTitleMarkup=##f
     20     scoreTitleMarkup=##f
     21   }
     22 #+end_src
     23 
     24 * Introduction
     25 
     26 As a cellist, I have played many pieces of varying style, difficulty,
     27 and genre.  In my opinion, the Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano
     28 are some of the greatest compositions that I've had the opportunity to
     29 perform.  I have always been curious about the circumstances under
     30 which Beethoven composed these sonatas and his motivations.
     31 
     32 After some cursory research about Beethoven, I discovered that his
     33 works are often divided into three distinct periods.  The cello
     34 sonatas happen to be a perfect example of these periods, so this is
     35 the topic I have decided to research.
     36 
     37 #+begin_abstract
     38 How and why did Beethoven's compositional style change throughout the
     39 course of writing his sonatas for cello and piano?
     40 #+end_abstract
     41 
     42 * Beethoven's development as a composer
     43 
     44 ** First period
     45 
     46 The first period of Beethoven's career as a composer is often called
     47 his "formative period", and extends to the year 1802.  Beethoven
     48 started composing at a very young age, and went to study composition
     49 in Bonn under Christian Gottlob Neefe around 1779[fn:1].  There, he
     50 wrote his first published compositions in 1783, at age 13.
     51 
     52 Beethoven's works from this period generally follow the strict
     53 traditions of Classical composition.  As a student, he was focused on
     54 the mastery of writing classical music in the Viennese style.
     55 
     56 Consider /Piano Sonata No. 1 in F Minor/, Op. 2.  Dedicated to Haydn,
     57 this early sonata illustrates Beethoven's focus on mastering and
     58 extending the typical Classical form of a sonata.  Compared to his
     59 later works, he seems to imitate the popular composers of the time
     60 such as Mozart:
     61 
     62 #+begin_quote
     63 The slow movement … well illustrates the rare cases in which Beethoven
     64 imitates Mozart to the detriment of his own proper richness of tone
     65 and thought.[fn:2]
     66 #+end_quote
     67 
     68 ** Middle period
     69 
     70 Beethoven's middle period, usually considered to span from 1802 to
     71 1812, marks a departure from the style of Mozart and Haydn.
     72 Coinciding with the beginning of the Romantic era, Beethoven's works
     73 from this era are increasingly more virtuosic and musically complex.
     74 
     75 In my own experience, these "middle period" works make use of
     76 extremely frequent key modulations, developing established themes
     77 within a piece, and a more frenetic style in general.
     78 
     79 A clear example of the middle period's modulations and dynamic changes
     80 is in the first movement of the /Kreutzer Violin Sonata/, Op. 47, bars
     81 194 to 214.  Beethoven starts with the main theme played /piano/ in A
     82 major, and modulates to G minor over a 2-bar crescendo to /forte/.
     83 Then, over another 4-bar crescendo, modulates to E-flat major, this
     84 time remaining /forte/.  Throughout these modulations, Beethoven
     85 alternates the main theme between the violin and piano parts
     86 repeatedly.  These modulations, everchanging dynamics, and
     87 conversation between the two parts are all put together to result in a
     88 piece of music that could only have been written by Beethoven.
     89 
     90 ** Third period
     91 
     92 By the third period, lasting from 1812 until his death in 1827,
     93 Beethoven had stopped performing and conducting due to his deafness,
     94 and--according to his own diary--distanced himself from his friends
     95 and colleagues.  Many of Beethoven's most innovative works were
     96 written during this time, including the /Große Fuge/ Op. 133, and the
     97 /Hammerklavier Piano Sonata No. 29/ Op. 106.
     98 
     99 Beethoven refined many of his signature techniques during this period,
    100 notably counterpoint and expanding themes.  He also developed a habit
    101 of linking movements of a piece together, without a break between
    102 them.  Many of Beethoven's pieces from this era were criticised
    103 because he no longer stuck so strictly to predefined Classical
    104 techniques.
    105 
    106 Many of Beethoven's larger works from this period were truly epic.
    107 The /Große Fuge/ was originally going to be the finale of /String Quartet
    108 No. 13 in B-flat major/ Op. 130, but was split into its own piece as
    109 the fugue was longer than the other five movements put together.
    110 
    111 * The Sonatas
    112 
    113 ** Sonata 1 in F Major and Sonata 2 in G Minor
    114 
    115 The first two sonatas (Opus 5 Nrs. 1 & 2) were written back to back in
    116 1796, while Beethoven was in the court of King Friedrich Wilhelm II in
    117 Berlin.  It is reported that "Beethoven composed the sonatas for
    118 Duport and himself to perform".[fn:3]
    119 
    120 The name "Duport" has led to some confusion, as there were two
    121 cellists with that name in the court of the king.  We now know that
    122 they were written for Jean Louis Duport, rather than his brother Jean
    123 Pierre Duport.[fn:4]
    124 
    125 *** F Major
    126 
    127 The first sonata in F major has a very "posh" feel, clearly influenced
    128 by the likes of Haydn and Mozart.  It uses a typical two-movement
    129 sonata form, starting with an /adagio/ introduction to an /allegro/
    130 first movement which develops the main themes, followed by an
    131 /allegro vivace/ third movement in rondo form.
    132 
    133 In this sonata, Beethoven made frequent use of arpeggios--a common
    134 characteristic of earlier classical music such as Haydn or Mozart.
    135 Consider this excerpt from bar 302 of the first movement:
    136 #+begin_src lilypond :file f-major-arpeggios.png :noweb yes
    137   <<version-and-paper>>
    138     \relative c {
    139       \key f \major
    140       \clef "bass"
    141       r8 c f a c f, a c |
    142       r8 d, g bf d g, bf d |
    143       e, g c e g e f g |
    144     }
    145 #+end_src
    146 
    147 #+RESULTS:
    148 [[file:f-major-arpeggios.png]]
    149 
    150 *** G Minor
    151 
    152 The G minor sonata is written in a distinctly Beethoven style.  It
    153 doesn't have the same posh sound as the F major sonata, but rather it
    154 is imbued with anger and indecision.  In my opinion, it doesn't feel
    155 as "Viennese" as the first sonata and works by Haydn or Mozart.  That
    156 said, Beethoven made extensive use of common Classical techniques such
    157 as imitation--repeating a theme in a different voice.
    158 
    159 Having studied this sonata countless times, I think that--in spite of
    160 being written in quite early in Beethoven's career--this piece is an
    161 indication of what was to come in Beethoven's middle period more so
    162 than an apt example of his early period.
    163 
    164 An excerpt from bar 67 of the first movement shows Beethoven's
    165 excessive use of staccatissimo accents, and abrupt dynamic changes--a
    166 trait of the middle period rather than the first:
    167 #+begin_src lilypond :file g-minor-outburst.png :noweb yes
    168   <<version-and-paper>>
    169     \relative c' {
    170       \key g \minor
    171       \time 3/4
    172       \clef "bass"
    173       r4 a\p\staccatissimo\< a\staccatissimo |
    174       bf2\>( d4) |
    175       r4\! d,\staccatissimo fs\staccatissimo |
    176       g4\f\staccatissimo d\staccatissimo bf'\staccatissimo |
    177       bf2( a8 g) |
    178       g4( fs) c'\staccatissimo |
    179     }
    180 #+end_src
    181 
    182 ** Sonata No. 3 in A Major
    183 
    184 The third sonata (Opus 69) was written in 1808, about a decade after
    185 the first two, and was dedicated to Baron Ignaz von Gleichenstein, a
    186 cellist, who played a part in securing a lifetime annuity for
    187 Beethoven[fn:1].
    188 
    189 This sonata, unlike the first two, is written in three movements.
    190 Unlike most three-movement sonatas, however, its middle movement is a
    191 scherzo.  This shows Beethoven's willingness to stray from common
    192 convention, as three-movement sonatas almost always have a fast
    193 movement, followed by a slow one, and an /allegro/ finale.
    194 
    195 Beethoven repeats certain motifs in different ways, which is a clear
    196 demonstration of his growing compositional maturity. Beethoven reworks
    197 the following theme numerous times:
    198 #+begin_src lilypond :file a-major-theme.png :noweb yes
    199   <<version-and-paper>>
    200     \relative c {
    201       \clef "bass"
    202       \key a \major
    203       \tempo "Allegro ma non tanto"
    204       a2_\markup{\dynamic p dolce}( e') | \bar ".|:"
    205       fs2.( cs4 |
    206       e4 d cs d8 b) |
    207       a2( gs4) e( |
    208       a fs cs ds) |
    209       e1
    210     }
    211 #+end_src
    212 An example of this is in bar 51, where the theme is inverted:
    213 #+begin_src lilypond :file a-major-var1.png :noweb yes
    214   <<version-and-paper>>
    215     \relative c' {
    216       \clef "bass"
    217       \key a \major
    218       b2( gs) |
    219       e2. b4~ |
    220       b4 b( gs e8 gs) |
    221       b2. r4 |
    222     }
    223 #+end_src
    224 
    225 ** Sonata No. 4 in C Major and Sonata No. 5 in D Major
    226 
    227 The composition of Beethoven's final cello sonatas (Opus 102, Nrs. 1
    228 & 2) began in spring of 1815, another seven years after the previous
    229 cello sonata.  In summer and autumn of 1815, Beethoven created first
    230 versions of both sonatas, which he revised throughout the year[fn:4].
    231 The two sonatas were published together by N. Simrock in late 1817 or
    232 early 1818, with a dedication to Countess Marie von Erdődy.
    233 
    234 These two sonatas never became as popular as the others, and critics
    235 of the time were sceptical about them.  The following is an excerpt
    236 from German periodical /Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung/ regarding
    237 Beethoven's final cello sonatas:
    238 #+begin_quote
    239 They elicit the most unexpected and unusual reactions, not only by
    240 their form but by the use of the piano as well... We have never been
    241 able to warm up to the two sonatas; but these compositions are perhaps
    242 a necessary link in the chain of Beethoven's works in order to lead us
    243 there where the steady hand of the maestro wanted to lead us.[fn:5]
    244 #+end_quote
    245 
    246 *** C Major
    247 
    248 Beethoven's C major cello sonata is quite a bit shorter than the
    249 others, and consists of two movements--both /allegro/ with a slow
    250 introduction.  This differs from most conventional sonatas, as a
    251 finale movement typically doesn't have an introduction, which shows
    252 Beethoven's willingness to ignore the traditional structure of the
    253 sonata.
    254 
    255 For me, this sonata is a demonstration of the anger Beethoven had
    256 built up over the years due to his deafness and isolation.  The first
    257 movement starts with a gentle, somewhat dainty theme:
    258 #+begin_src lilypond :file c-major-intro.png :noweb yes
    259   <<version-and-paper>>
    260     \relative c' {
    261       \clef "tenor"
    262       \key c \major
    263       \time 6/8
    264       \tempo "Andante"
    265       c8_\markup{\dynamic p "dolce cantabile"}^"teneramente"( b a g4 a16 b |
    266       c d e c g'\staccatissimo) g g8( f d) |
    267     }
    268 #+end_src
    269 
    270 The introduction to the first movement largely resembles this first
    271 theme, never reaching a dynamic above /piano/ apart from phrasing
    272 crescendi.  But the true nature of this movement is revealed at the
    273 transition from the introduction to the *Allegro vivace* section:
    274 
    275 #+begin_src lilypond :file c-major-allegro.png :noweb yes
    276   <<version-and-paper>>
    277     \relative c, {
    278       \clef "bass"
    279       \key c \major
    280       \time 2/2 \tempo "Allegro vivace"
    281       \partial 4 e'4\staccatissimo\ff^"arco" \bar ".|:"
    282       a4.\sf b8 c4.\sf d8 |
    283       e2\sf~ e8[ r16 d c8 r16 b] |
    284       a8[ r16 f e8 r16 d] c8[ r16 b a8 r16 b16] |
    285     }
    286 #+end_src
    287 
    288 Accompanied by a dramatic increase in dynamic from /piano/ to
    289 /fortissimo/, the immediate modulation to A minor--the relative
    290 minor--invokes a sense of desperation and anger.  This is one of the
    291 defining characteristics of Beethoven's music, and it mimics a similar
    292 transition in the G minor sonata.
    293 
    294 *** D Major
    295 
    296 The final cello sonata, written in D major as three movements, seems
    297 at first glance to return to the canonical sonata template.  The
    298 second and third movements are linked with a fermata, which is a
    299 feature that Beethoven often included in his later compositions.
    300 
    301 The final movement, a fugue, is reminiscent of some of Beethoven's
    302 later works such as the last string quartets, and the Hammerklavier
    303 piano sonata.  Beethoven's obsession with counterpoint is a
    304 characteristic trait of his third period, and is demonstrated in this
    305 final movement.
    306 
    307 * Conclusion
    308 
    309 ** Are Beethoven's periods reflected in these sonatas?
    310 
    311 I think that these cello sonatas, with the possible exception of the
    312 second sonata in G minor, are indeed good examples of Beethoven's
    313 shift to a more avant-garde style in his later years.
    314 
    315 Although the G minor sonata (Op. 5 Nr. 2) was written in Beethoven's
    316 early period, it demonstrates the temperament that we expect in his
    317 later works.  This is unlike most classical music of the late 1700s,
    318 and in my opinion evidence of Beethoven's individuality as a composer.
    319 
    320 Haydn's influence shows itself evidently in Beethoven's first cello
    321 sonata in F major (Op. 5 Nr. 1), like many works from Beethoven's
    322 first period.
    323 
    324 Beethoven's final two cello sonatas show the trend of adjusting and
    325 extending existing techniques, leading to a more avant-garde style in
    326 general.
    327 
    328 ** Why did these changes happen?
    329 
    330 Beethoven's deafness played a big part in his stylistic and
    331 compositional evolution.  His ailment caused him to seek out a
    332 solitary life in his final years, without which I don't think we would
    333 have many of Beethoven's greatest compositions.  Utterly depressed in
    334 his final years, he wrote the following:
    335 
    336 #+begin_quote
    337 I must confess that I lead a miserable life. For almost two years, I
    338 have ceased to attend any social functions, just because I find it
    339 impossible to say to people, ‘I am deaf.’ If I had any other
    340 profession, I might be able to cope with my infirmity; but in my
    341 profession, it is a terrible handicap.
    342 #+end_quote
    343 
    344 #+attr_latex: :float wrap :width 5cm :caption \emph{Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog}
    345 [[file:friedrich.jpg]]
    346 
    347 Beethoven's development to a more personal and agitated mode of
    348 expression is indicitave of a more general change in art--the Romantic
    349 era.  Beethoven's later compositions can be compared to German art of
    350 the same era--Caspar David Friedrich's 1818 painting /Wanderer Above
    351 the Sea of Fog/ comes to mind.
    352 
    353 In my opinion, this painting is an excellent companion to Beethoven's
    354 agitated later music--both convey a similar sense of vastness and
    355 tumult.
    356 
    357 Much of Beethoven's early music is written in the style of his
    358 teachers and contemporaries, but his greatness exceeded the confines
    359 of the music du jour.  I believe this is why he developed his own
    360 unique style so much more thoroughly than most composers of the same
    361 period.
    362 
    363 ** Legacy
    364 
    365 Beethoven is now known as one of the greatest and most revolutionary
    366 composers of all time.  In 1963, Stravinsky described Beethoven's
    367 /Große Fuge/ (Op. 133) as "an absolutely contemporary piece of music
    368 that will be contemporary forever."  His innovations brought on the
    369 Romantic era of classical music, and some of his later works predicted
    370 the evolution of contemporary classical music to an unbelievable
    371 degree.
    372 
    373 * Bibliography
    374 
    375 - /The Three Periods of Beethoven/ (n.d.).  Retrieved from:
    376   https://lcsproductions.net
    377 
    378 - /So if Beethoven was completely deaf, how did he compose?/ (2019).
    379   retrieved from: https://classicfm.com
    380 
    381 - Wilson, K. (2015). /My Man Ludwig Van - The Tortured Genius of
    382   Beethoven/.  Retrieved from: https://litreactor.com
    383 
    384 - Lenz, W. (1852). /Beethoven et ses trois styles/.  Retrieved from:
    385   https://imslp.org
    386 
    387 * Footnotes
    388 
    389 [fn:5] Jean and Brigitte Massin (trans), /Ludwig van Beethoven/,
    390 Fayard, 1967
    391 
    392 [fn:4] Jens Dufner, /Sonatas for Piano and Violoncello/, G. Henle
    393 Verlag, 2008
    394 
    395 [fn:3] Franz Gerhard Wegeler/Ferdinand Ries, /Biographische Notizen
    396 über Ludwig van Beethoven/, Koblenz, 1838, p. 109
    397 
    398 [fn:2] Donald Tovey, /Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition/, 1910
    399 
    400 [fn:1] A. W. Thayer, /The Life of Ludwig Van Beethoven, Vol 1/, The
    401 Beethoven Association, 1921
    402