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Appendix: Key Distribution in the Principal Works of Beethoven

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 March 2021

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Summary

THE SYMPHONIES

The range of the symphonies is from three flats to three sharps, with two of the nine symphonies (22 percent) in minor keys. There is a leaning to the flat side, with six symphonies in flat keys, two in sharp keys. Mozart's symphonies range from three flats to three sharps, with only two in minor keys (K. 183 and K. 550, both in G minor). Haydn, with a greater number of symphonies (over a hundred), encompasses four flats (No. 49 in F minor), four sharps (Nos. 12 and 29 in E Major), and even five sharps (No. 46 in B Major). (However, Symphony No. 46 is a special case, since, as James Webster has pointed out, it is one of a pair with the “Farewell” Symphony and may also be programmatic.) Eleven of Haydn's symphonies are in minor keys, with three in C minor, three in D minor, and two in G minor. Only two are in sharp minor keys: the special “Farewell” and the symphony immediately adjacent to it, Symphony No. 44 in E minor.

The range is from four flats to three sharps, but there are more quartets in flat keys (nine) than in sharp keys (five). Five of the sixteen quartets are in minor keys (31 percent). Haydn's quartets range from four flats to four sharps, although more than half are in major keys with no more than two flats or two sharps. As in Beethoven, there is a preference for the flat side. Twelve of Haydn's sixty-eight quartets are in minor keys; four of these are in D minor. Only three are in sharp minor keys. Mozart's range is three flats to three sharps, with only a slight preference for the flat side. Of Mozart's twenty-three quartets, two are in D minor: K. 173 and K. 421.

The range is from three flats to one sharp, with an emphasis on the flat side. Only one concerto out of the five is in a minor key. Adding the Triple Concerto (in C Major) and the Violin Concerto (in D Major) to the list, the balance between the flat side and the sharp side is more even, but the single concerto in the minor now counts as only 14 percent of the total.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

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