Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas. A note by Christoph Thiemann

A note by Christoph Thiemann on how this Tecla edition can be practically useful to pianists (reproduced here by his kind permission). (December 2004)

When I bought the beautiful Tecla Facsimile of the original editions of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, there was no special textual question I wanted to check. But now I have been reading a paper on non-orthographic notations of Beethoven, and of course I was happy to compare the piano sonata examples against the original editions. An interesting detail I found was in op. 78, first movement, measures 25 and 26. Many editions have f-double-sharp for both hands, but the Henle (with copyright date 1980) has for the left hand g-natural (against f-double-sharp right) with a footnote that they follow the manuscript as well as the original edition. As expected, the Tecla facsimile shows the g-natural (a facsimile of the manuscript is not known to me). The crucial point, however, is the left hand g-single-sharp of measure 27: Henle shows it without a sharp and doesn’t give a footnote, although the original edition has a sharp there! In my opinion, this sharp is not just for security, it is essential and therefore worthwhile to be noticed. For sometimes Beethoven still followed the old-fashioned rule that an accidental before a single note stays valid also in the following measure, especially if that note is the last one before the bar-line and is repeated (no tie!) immediately after. To have an example, just look at the second movement of op. 78, measures 110 to 113: in the original edition the a in 111 has natural, but the d in 113 does not. I think the latter was not an “obvious” error, but Beethoven was still with the old rule in this measure, and therefore the sharp of measure 27 in the first movement was essential for him.

Whether I am right or not: whenever questions like these ones occur, it is very helpful and pleasant – and far above the aesthetical enjoyment – to have the sources at hand. Thanks a lot to Tecla Editions for presenting the text of the Beethoven piano sonatas original editions in such a comfortable way !

Christoph Thiemann, Hamburg

Finally: The paper on the non-orthographic notations is by van der Linde in “Beethoven Studien”, Vienna, 1970, pp. 271 to 325. The “old-fashioned rule” I’ve found in Türk’s “Klavierschule”, 1789, p. 46, or, just as paraphrased above in Hummel’s “Klavierschule”, 1828, page 28 (German edition, I conjecture that also an English one exists), while Spohr in his “Violinschule”, 1832, p. 61, requires a tie, if the accidental has to be valid also after the bar-line, which is the modern rule.


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