Beethoven Beams 1

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John Ruggero
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Beethoven Beams 1

Post by John Ruggero » 17 May 2019, 22:40

Engraving from Beethoven's first editions yields constant surprises and revelations.

In the Sonata op. 31 no. 2, later engravers have made two unfortunate alterations in beaming.

In the first movement, Beethoven carefully distinguished an important slurred-pair eighth-note motive by beaming it in twos.
op 31 no 2 mov 1 ex 1.jpeg
op 31 no 2 mov 1 ex 1.jpeg (125.66 KiB) Viewed 743 times
Other eighth-note ideas are beamed in fours as would be expected in 2/2 meter. Here the two styles of beaming are combined:
op 31 no 2 mov 1 ex 2.jpeg
op 31 no 2 mov 1 ex 2.jpeg (129.94 KiB) Viewed 743 times
Last edited by John Ruggero on 18 May 2019, 00:31, edited 2 times in total.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven Beams 1

Post by John Ruggero » 17 May 2019, 22:48

Later engravers have beamed the motive in fours, which suggests a more flowing performance of the slurred-pair motive than the highly abrupt and agitated style Beethoven probably intended.
op 31 no 2 mov 1 ex 3.jpeg
op 31 no 2 mov 1 ex 3.jpeg (67.81 KiB) Viewed 739 times
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven Beams 1

Post by John Ruggero » 18 May 2019, 00:25

Throughout much of the perpetual motion third movement, Beethoven beams (and slurs) a three-sixteenth motive to act as an up-beat leading melodically and rhythmically into the next down-beat in an iambic pattern.
op 31 no 2 mov 3 ex 1.jpeg
op 31 no 2 mov 3 ex 1.jpeg (136.68 KiB) Viewed 736 times
Then, shortly before the Recapitulation, he changes both the beaming and the slurring. The rhythm now appears to be trochaic, with the groups of three sixteenths flowing from the downbeats rather than into them.
op 31 no 2 mov 3 ex 2.jpeg
op 31 no 2 mov 3 ex 2.jpeg (145.81 KiB) Viewed 736 times
Note that while the opening iambic motive has strong melodic direction, the sixteens in this new trochaic pattern are static decorations of the down beat notes whose function is to continue the constant sixteenth note motion between the hands. This suggests that these sixteenths should be played much more lightly than those in the iambic pattern, a refreshing change at exactly the right time to ward off a danger of monotony after the long treatment of the iambic pattern in the development section.

Later engravers have canceled the new beaming and continue on as at first. Even highly authentic editions like the Schenker and the new Weiner Urtext, make these two alterations in the first and third movements, which have no basis in the first editions or any other authentic secondary sources that I am aware of.
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