Why the Tecla edition of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas is the only way to go

Tecla Editions provides an edition of all the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in facsimiles of the earliest known printed editions, from Beethoven’s own time, through the great courtesy of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. Why use them? Surely it’s better to use a modern edition, isn’t it? We can trust a modern editor more than a dusty old edition, can’t we?

The answer is that no you can’t! The modern editors normally make very many small changes for which in nearly every case in my opinion there is no visible musical reason. What Beethoven wrote seems perfectly fine to me.

I don’t know about you, but if I were playing a Beethoven sonata I would rather play what Beethoven wrote than what a modern editor tells me that he wrote. There’s nothing wrong with it.

To show you what I mean, you can see the first page of music of the Moonlight Sonata in its original edition, as reproduced in the Tecla edition, here free. And you can try it out.

You don’t find it hard to read, do you? All the other sonatas in their original editions as given in the Tecla edition are equally clear to read.

It’s true that you have to get used to some slight differences in layout from today’s music engraving conventions, but that isn’t difficult. And if anything puzzled you, you could always check with a prestigious modern edition such as the Henle. But I haven’t myself ever needed anything other than what Beethoven wrote. In my opinion Beethoven’s original editions are just fine for playing from.

You could also read my article which gives precise examples of Beethoven’s original texts compared with some modern editions.

Another thing about the Tecla edition of these Beethoven sonatas: it has been called one of the most beautiful music editions that exist.

So beautiful, in fact, that some libraries who bought it promptly made it a Case book which means that people can’t take it out and play from it. What a dumb thing for them to do: I  made this edition precisely so that performers and students could play from the original editions.

They are crystal clear to use for performance.

If you like them, you might consider ordering the complete Moonlight Sonata as a printed item to be shipped to you worldwide or getting the boxed printed set of the 32 sonatas sent to you by us. (We have a few copies of the boxed printed set in which the box is slightly marked but the individual sonatas are in pristine condition, at a reduced price.)