Beethoven pedalling

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benwiggy
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Beethoven pedalling

Post by benwiggy » 31 Aug 2019, 14:00

One for John: a friend of mine has just published a paper about the use (or lack) of pedalling marks in Beethoven's piano music. It seems to suggest that he only marked it where it varied from existing convention, and an absence of markings doesn't mean an absence of pedal.

The article might be 'behind bars' for a while, but I'll see if I can get you a copy if you're interested.

https://academic.oup.com/em/advance-art ... 45/5537524

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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by John Ruggero » 31 Aug 2019, 16:48

Thank you, benwiggy. I would be very interested in the article.

Your friend's view is that of most pianists towards Beethoven's (and Chopin's and probably most composer's pedal markings) for many years. I hope the opposite is not gaining traction!

Chopin may have confused the issue for some by notating so many pedal markings since he used so many "special effects" that varied from the convention of his time, particularly for holding low and other notes beyond their notated length. But he also did not attempt to put in all the pedaling, and pianists pedal his music as required where not marked. After Chopin's usage became the norm, composers like Brahms, Liszt, etc. omitted such pedaling, so little is seen in their music. Today, educational editions of older music attempt to put in all the required pedal. There are also composers who do the same.
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Schonbergian
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by Schonbergian » 01 Sep 2019, 22:49

My view is:

Composers will indicate pedaling where it is required for a certain pianistic effect or where it is specifically not wanted (and, for instance, in Beethoven Op. 79, lack of pedal can be implied from where it is otherwise indicated in parallel passages)

Other pedaling is entirely up to taste and discretion.

I'm not aware of any major pianistic school of thought that would demand complete abstinence from pedal where it is not expressly indicated.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by John Ruggero » 02 Sep 2019, 02:02

Schonbergian wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 22:49
or where it is specifically not wanted (and, for instance, in Beethoven Op. 79, lack of pedal can be implied from where it is otherwise indicated in parallel passages)
Passages in which the composer doesn't want pedal are often the most controversial in 19th century piano music, because senza pedale or secco and simile indications are relatively recent. For example, in Chopin's Etude op. 25 no. 3, the first eight measures have pedal indications by the composer. When the passage repeats as ms. 9-16 with a slight change in the figure, there are no pedal indications. Then the pedaling indications resume for 17 etc. which is different music using the original figure. To this day, no one knows for certain if Chopin wanted pedal omitted for measures 9-16, because the passage is not an exact repeat and sounds good either way.*

If 9-16 had been had been an exact repeat of 1-8, there would be no question about it: the pedaling applies as before. That was the convention of the time: ANY markings that are applied to a pattern or phrase are assumed to apply to immediate exact repeats. This freed the composers and engravers of unnecessary labor and kept the page uncluttered.

* However, internal evidence strongly suggests that the pedaling should continue as before.
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OCTO
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by OCTO » 04 Sep 2019, 05:24

Schonbergian wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 22:49
Other pedaling is entirely up to taste and discretion.
Sometimes piano textures can indicate pedaling, such as in the late Scriabin sonatas, I think :ped is rarely seen, if ever.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by John Ruggero » 04 Sep 2019, 15:35

OCTO wrote:
04 Sep 2019, 05:24
Schonbergian wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 22:49
Other pedaling is entirely up to taste and discretion.
Sometimes piano textures can indicate pedaling, such as in the late Scriabin sonatas, I think :ped is rarely seen, if ever.
That's a great point. Most later composers like Scriabin have shown notes that are to held by the pedal at their actual durations so pedal signs are unnecessary for such passages. In Chopin and Beethoven, the notes durations usually indicate the length as held by the fingers, so those held by the pedal required the use of pedal signs. However, sometimes it is impossible to use note durations to show pedaling and the composer will either rely on the player's knowledge of such matters, or use a pedal indication.

The Brahms Handel Variations shows pedaling indications in the process of transition. For most of the piece there are no pedal indications, because there is nothing that a knowledgable pianist would find confusing about how to use the pedal. Then in Vars. 9 and 18 pedal markings are used in Chopin's manner to show the holding of notes that are difficult to notate at their actual duration:
Brahms Pedal 1.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 1.jpeg (44.64 KiB) Viewed 291 times
Brahms Pedal 2.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 2.jpeg (47.23 KiB) Viewed 291 times
In Var. 22 a general Ped., as often seen in Schumann's music, tells the pianist to pedal continuously with changes on the changes of harmony:
Brahms Pedal 3.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 3.jpeg (46.16 KiB) Viewed 291 times
In the Fugue Brahms here uses the new system of notating held notes at duration, but also puts in a Pedal marking for those unaccustomed to the new style:
Brahms Pedal 4.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 4.jpeg (42.25 KiB) Viewed 291 times
Here, however, he reverts to the Chopin style because it keeps things simple:
Brahms Pedal 5.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 5.jpeg (31.55 KiB) Viewed 291 times
Then he uses the modern style with a general direction to hold the quarter notes full value with the pedal:
Brahms Pedal 6.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 6.jpeg (38.42 KiB) Viewed 291 times
Finally in the last measure he uses the new style without a pedal indication:
Brahms Pedal 7.jpeg
Brahms Pedal 7.jpeg (43.21 KiB) Viewed 291 times
Last edited by John Ruggero on 13 Sep 2019, 14:04, edited 1 time in total.
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OCTO
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by OCTO » 04 Sep 2019, 18:15

Thank you, John - always to learn something new from you.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by John Ruggero » 04 Sep 2019, 21:13

Thank you very much, OCTO. I've learned at least as much from you and probably a lot more.
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Schonbergian
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by Schonbergian » 04 Sep 2019, 23:44

I prefer the Beethoven/Chopin style as it instantly clarifies the technical situation. In your Brahms example 6, I would have assumed at first glance that the technical intention was to hold the quarter notes with the fingers full length as it would have seemed to be possible with his hand span.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven pedalling

Post by John Ruggero » 05 Sep 2019, 14:25

I prefer the Beethoven/Chopin style as well, Schonbergian.

When one looks at the whole 11 measure passage that starts with example 6, one sees that the intervals get even larger and then the octave jumps move to the bass, almost every first and third beat octave impossible or impractical to hold with the fingers.

http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnk ... _S._83.pdf

Chopin would have written the first and third beat octaves as sixteenth notes and put in precise pedaling to show that they hold as quarter notes. I can't remember him ever using the marking "col Ped." He did write Ped. without an ending symbol to mean that the pedaling was either too complex to notate (flutter pedal etc.), to change very rapidly on every harmony, or to lift the pedal gradually. He also omitted a pedal termination for a pedal marking on the last notes or chords of a piece, since lifting the pedal is obvious. He, like the rest of these composers, rarely state the obvious simply for the sake of consistency. They were a very practical bunch, notationally.
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