Beethoven’s Logic 8

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John Ruggero
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Beethoven’s Logic 8

Post by John Ruggero »

The following beaming appears in Variation 5 of the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata op. 26. The thirty second note accompaniment is beamed in groups of four throughout the variation except at the arrow:
op 26.1 beam.jpeg
op 26.1 beam.jpeg (183.41 KiB) Viewed 1251 times
This apparent anomaly was “corrected” in the first edition and in later editions, including Schenker’s. This is a shame.
op 26.1. 1st ed.jpeg
op 26.1. 1st ed.jpeg (79.7 KiB) Viewed 1251 times
A look at this measure in the Theme shows why I think Beethoven beamed this as a group of 8 notes. The middle voice voices move directly to C on the second eighth note beat of the measure to form a new harmony:
op 26.1 theme.jpeg
op 26.1 theme.jpeg (68.39 KiB) Viewed 1251 times
In Variation 5 the C also arrives on the second beat, but delayed by two passing notes. Since this is the only spot in this phrase in which the harmonic notes do not fall on the beat, Beethoven was concerned that the passage might be construed as shown in the first example in the following illustration, leading players to place undue emphasis on the passing notes:
op 26.1 analysis.jpeg
op 26.1 analysis.jpeg (66.87 KiB) Viewed 1251 times
The position of the slurs is also of interest. Beethoven prefers to place slurs over the note heads whenever possible, presumably so that they more closely reflect the shape of the melodic line. He does this even when it creates engraving difficulties. The first edition could only partially honor his positioning. Later editions ignore it completely.
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