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Beethoven’s ‘lost’ sonata to receive world premiere this weekend

Now where did I put that lovely thing?

You can just about see the young Beethoven, 22 years old, rummaging around his room before a recital looking for the piece he’d written the night before and then getting into a terrible rage over a lost penny. Something like that.

Anyway, an Opus 00 in D major has turned up in Bonn and is going to be heard for the first time in Amsterdam on Sunday.

Forgotten piano sonata by the young Beethoven has world premiere at ConcertgebouwAmsterdam
It appears that Beethoven wrote one more piano sonata, three years before he published his first official sonata. The young Beethoven was 22 years old then. This Sonata Fantasia in D was hidden in the archives since 1792, and is now issued in print for the first time. The publication and reconstruction of the sketches was done by the Dutch Beethoven musicologist Cees Nieuwenhuizen.

The work of the young Beethoven resembles the famous Moonlight Sonata and the Sonata Pastorale and contains many ideas that Beethoven used in other, later works. It’s a fascinating link between the early piano works and the first piano sonatas Opus 2 published by the young master. The world premiere is on Sunday 21 October 2012 by the young piano virtuoso Martin Oei (16 years) in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

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  1. It may be a bit of juvenilia, but Beethoven is still fascinating, especially since any reconstruction of a work of the young composer is of interest. And it will likely become a repertoire staple. I want to see the music, asap!

    • I want to see the unreconstructed sketches, or else I shall remain like St Thomas! I have seen at least a dozen ‘new’ works of Beethoven for piano where the reconstruction has been so outrageously intrusive [starting with the notion that a piece is intended for piano, for example!!] that it just made me very angry!! A bit like Busoni buggering about with Liszt – before we knew better!!! Lxx

      • Why is “intrusion” “outrageous”? Why do people worship composers like they’re idols? Busoni’s ideas on Liszt were fine – it’s boring to do a cover version that is just a carbon copy. And modern musicians don’t have to ape Beethoven worshipfully – he was just another musician after all.

  2. John G. Rizek says:

    Somehow it’s very weird to realize that actually Ludwig Van wrote 33 sonatas. All the history books will have to change and all the great pianists who have recorded Beethoven “integral” across the years will have to add one more sonata. Funny to imagine that scenario.

  3. Emil Archambault says:

    If it’s not an official sonata, it’s not part of the integrals. There’s already the WoO 47 piano sonatas which are not part of the standard corpus. Probably, this one will join them, as it is not a published sonata.,_WoO_47_(Beethoven)

    • Robert Comeau says:

      Well said, Mr. Archimbault. Maurizio Pollini doesn’t accept Op. 49 as part of the canonical 32 either, citiing them as slight works publlished without Beethoven’s knowledge. Hence, his cycles performed in
      the 90s left them out, and only gave listeners 30….

      • Jonathan Zoob says:

        The reason it won’t be accepted as one of the canonical set is that it is not terribly good and I can well imagine why Beethoven didn’t finish it. It is stylistically muddled, overly long and not even very exciting for the virtuoso. The main point of interest is the use of the D-Csharp-D motif that he was to employ some 20 years later for the Trio to the Scherzo of the Seventh Symphony. So some good came of it…

  4. John G. Rizek says:

    You are right guys
    I didn’t kwon that about Pollini’s Cycle. Does any other great pianist has left any sonata out?

  5. Well, this is not really a “new sonata”. In 1968, Giovanni Biamonti already cataloged this piece (folios 90-95 of the Kafka Miscellany, British Library), giving it the number Biamonti 213. Two years later, Joseph Kerman presented it as Fantasia Sonata in his complete diplomatic edition of the Kafka Miscellany. And Adolf Fecker, in 1973, completed it and published it separately (Wolfenbuttel & Zürich: Möseler Verlag). Cees Nieuwenhuizen has simply presented a new attempt to complete this lengthy sketch that Beethoven left unfinished, a fragment that is not even the most interesting part of the fabulous Kafka manuscript.

  6. Anything from Beethoven I want to hear

  7. I’m afraid the work is simply not very good (compared to Beethoven’s standards) and the reconstruction poorly done. Right at the beginning of the piece, I see a very ugly parallel fifth from bar 19 leading into bar 20; comparing with the facsimile, I notice however that the left hand contains a rest exactly there. What justifies the “completion”? And a bad one at that? Bar 54-55 is another example. I know Beethoven’s voice leading can be peculiar at times, but never as harsh as this. Haydn surely wouldn’t have approved!

  8. Anything from Mr. B I want to hear. But I don’t woeship him. That’s silly.

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