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Topic: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111  (Read 9013 times)

Offline ramseytheii

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Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
on: January 29, 2007, 05:02:35 AM
Listening to the Andras Schiff lecture on Beethoven 109, he notes that although the Sonatas were sketched and composed at the same time, Beethoven chose not to give them the same opus number, as he had with op.2 or op.31, or op.27.  Schiff never really offers a reason for this.  Does anyone here have any interesting ideas?  I ruled out the answer that they were too dissimilar for the same opus number, because the sonatas in op.31 are hardly similar, and the only thing linking those in op.27 is "quasi una fantasia."

Walter Ramsey
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Offline arensky

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #1 on: January 29, 2007, 07:06:58 AM
Perhaps he felt he didn't have to group his works neatly into sets a la Haydn anymore, e.g. "Op.1 #1 #2 #3".

Or maybe he made more money by publishing each one individualy...  ;)
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Offline dabbler

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #2 on: January 29, 2007, 10:12:40 AM
Interesting question. I guess that in Beethoven's earlier days, it was still customary to collect several sonatas or chamber music pieces into one opus (think of the customary six string quartets composers used to introduce themselves, etc.) -- oh I see that's what arensky meant in the preceding post. Then, throughout the 19th century, the proportions of sonatas increased (ok, I know 111 only has two movements, but its emotional content is enough for a lifetime) and especially for Beethoven the sonatas were so important that he chose to express his most personal feelings in them. Moreover, the last five sonatas stand there like pillars reaching from the past (fugues etc.) all over into the late 19th century and maybe the consciousness of their importance in musical history was another point. But this is pure guessing. Btw (= off-topic), Thomas Mann's 'Dr. Faustus' (a modern classic among German novels) has a whole chapter devoted to op.111, which might be a fun read (if not the whole book) for those interested...

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #3 on: January 29, 2007, 01:41:17 PM
i always thought, too, that he wanted them to stand alone - each signifying a different type of form.  km knittel wrote something for jstor entitled 'late, last, and least...'  though i don't think he means 'least' the way it sounded.  he quotes a contemporary of beethoven as saying something about beethoven wanted to express three different types of composition in these works. 

in terms of what could be common - look here at jerome rose's review:
www.jeromerose.com/reviews.shtml  (scroll down)

also, at beethoven haus - there is a forum you could ask the very same question.  i tried searching for any past answers to it - and couldn't find any.

i did, however, find a few dedications.  the op. 109 to maximiliane brentano, the op. 111 to archduke rudolph of austria (but also the english edition to antoine brentano).

imo, he was expressing a final goodbye to each individual person - and expressing his feelings about his illness (which was becoming daily by 1821) and he was expressing a timelessness to music, love, and life.  i actually think beethoven was quite full of faith - and yet - sometimes full of himself, too.  it is said the three sonatas typify the child, the man, the 'god.'   (or perhaps - his meeting God halfway in this life - and waiting for the final meeting).

Offline ahinton

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #4 on: January 29, 2007, 02:13:15 PM
i did, however, find a few dedications.  the op. 109 to maximiliane brentano, the op. 111 to archduke rudolph of austria (but also the english edition to antoine brentano).

imo, he was expressing a final goodbye to each individual person - and expressing his feelings about his illness (which was becoming daily by 1821) and he was expressing a timelessness to music, love, and life.
Other than the actual dedications themselves (which are factual), I do think that this is rather fanciful - not necessarily entirely inaccurate but certainly impossible to determine with any degree of reliability. Who can say with certainty what Beethoven was "expressing" in those monumental works? - except that he was very obviously expressing something. It seems to be all too tempting for some people to want to account in words what some composers express in certain of their works, almost as though the results cannot be so meaningful unless accountable - and actually accounted for - in words. Does it not occur to you that, had Beethoven found it possible to express fully in words the thoughts that he wanted to express in his final three sonatas, he might not have done just that instead? As a codicil to this, I might add that having a work of one's own premièred after a performance of Op. 109 (as happened to me last November) is an almost mind-numbingly humbling experience. Speaking of your own humility as indicated in your opinion about those "farewells" that beethoven supposedly expressed, I think that the only thing of which one can be certain here is that he was expresing his farewell to the solo sonata...

i actually think beethoven was quite full of faith - and yet - sometimes full of himself, too.
You write as though these were - or might at least be expected to be - somehow mutually incompatible! - yet the very reverse is surely especially true of beethoven, since he had a great deal of faith in himself, as indeed he needed to in order to develop as a composer in the way and to the extent that he did.

it is said the three sonatas typify the child, the man, the 'god.'
Whoever said that is, with repect, talking rubbish! Whatever kind of childlike-ness can one possibly extrapolate from the sheer innigkeit alone that so informs Op. 109, especially in its finale?!  Bet you've never had a child like that, then!

(or perhaps - his meeting God halfway in this life - and waiting for the final meeting).
Oh, here we go again! Stop it Susan, PLEASE! In any case, had Beethoven met God at that stage, he'd probably have cursed Him to blazes for letting him go deaf!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #5 on: January 29, 2007, 11:29:39 PM
i always thought, too, that he wanted them to stand alone - each signifying a different type of form.  km knittel wrote something for jstor entitled 'late, last, and least...'  though i don't think he means 'least' the way it sounded.  he quotes a contemporary of beethoven as saying something about beethoven wanted to express three different types of composition in these works. 

I don't think that's the reason, as I wrote above, because other groups of sonatas have totally different forms, but stand together.  The ironic thing is that a succesful concert can be given of these three last sonatas without pause for applause in between them.  They seem natural to stand by themselves: op.109 no.s 1, 2 and 3.  And yet they don't!  Well we can only guess of course. 

Quote
in terms of what could be common - look here at jerome rose's review:
www.jeromerose.com/reviews.shtml  (scroll down)

Oh Heavenly Lord, save us!  The Rose recording is one of the absolute worst I have ever heard, and I went into listening it expecting fully to enjoy it.  It is a studio recording with unforgivable wrong notes and where the music should be affirmative, it is harsh; where it should be peaceful, it's jerky.  It's all wrong through and through.  I can't believe people would write hyperbolic trash like this review!

Quote
I did, however, find a few dedications.  the op. 109 to maximiliane brentano, the op. 111 to archduke rudolph of austria (but also the english edition to antoine brentano).

imo, he was expressing a final goodbye to each individual person - and expressing his feelings about his illness (which was becoming daily by 1821) and he was expressing a timelessness to music, love, and life.  i actually think beethoven was quite full of faith - and yet - sometimes full of himself, too.  it is said the three sonatas typify the child, the man, the 'god.'   (or perhaps - his meeting God halfway in this life - and waiting for the final meeting).

I Think AHinton is rather right to say it was Beethoven's farewell to the sonata that we can surmise.  Schiff basically says the same thing.  Beethoven had more than 20 more opus numbers after op.111 so had every opportunity to continue with the sonatas, but didn't. 

Perhaps he did it to publish each separately, and earn more money?

Walter Ramsey

Offline kriskicksass

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #6 on: January 30, 2007, 02:45:54 AM
Perhaps he did it to publish each separately, and earn more money?

That's what Charles Rosen speculates in his guide to the Beethoven Sonatas.

Offline phil13

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #7 on: February 01, 2007, 11:20:32 PM
I don't think that's the reason, as I wrote above, because other groups of sonatas have totally different forms, but stand together.  The ironic thing is that a succesful concert can be given of these three last sonatas without pause for applause in between them.  They seem natural to stand by themselves: op.109 no.s 1, 2 and 3.  And yet they don't!  Well we can only guess of course. 


Walter Ramsey


This is not exactly true, per se. Beethoven only grouped sonatas together if they were similar in form (or lack of form) or had some kind of similar quality. Opp. 109, 110 and 111 are radically different, from one another and from the rest of his 32 sonatas.

All you have to do is look at the opus groups within the sonatas. The three from Op.2 are all four-movement works with a hint of Haydn. Op.27 are both "Sonatas Quasi Fantasias", Op.49 are essentially sonatines except in name. On the basis of grouping different sonatas together, why wouldn't he have grouped the Waldstein, Op.53, with the F major sonata that follows it, Op.54? What prevented the Pastorale, Op.28, from being Op.27 No.3?

The answer lies in the fact that the Waldstein, such a marvelous stroke of wit, is radically different in girth and power from the little F major sonata, and that 'Moonlight' and its Eb opus partner are radically different in form than the more conventional 'Pastorale'. Extrapolate that, and you can realize why Opp. 109, 110 and 111 were not grouped together.

Phil

Offline lontano

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Re: Beethoven - op.109, 110, and 111
Reply #8 on: July 19, 2010, 11:21:53 PM
Listening to the Andras Schiff lecture on Beethoven 109, he notes that although the Sonatas were sketched and composed at the same time, Beethoven chose not to give them the same opus number, as he had with op.2 or op.31, or op.27.  Schiff never really offers a reason for this.  Does anyone here have any interesting ideas?  I ruled out the answer that they were too dissimilar for the same opus number, because the sonatas in op.31 are hardly similar, and the only thing linking those in op.27 is "quasi una fantasia."

Walter Ramsey

Well, Walter, I believe down deep, Beethoven just knew having the number 111 associated with this, possibly his most sublime sonata, and possibly his last, was the right thing to do. Personally I don't think there's any rational or musical sense in placing op. 109 and 111 together. They seem to call out for their individual places within the cycle.

Lontano
...and she disappeared from view while playing the Agatha Christie Fugue...
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