Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-tn8tq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-19T07:16:00.212Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

9 - “Aber lieber Beethoven, was haben Sie denn wieder da gemacht?” Observations on the Performing Parts for the Premiere of Beethoven's Mass in C, Opus 86

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2020

Get access

Summary

The performing parts for the premiere of Beethoven's Mass in C had received little attention before the new complete edition in 2003 detailed their existence and contents. In his 1959 article “Beethoven in Eisenstadt” Johann Harich confirmed the existence of forty-four parts then in the Esterházy archives and mentioned their untidy appearance: “The number of entries, corrections, and interpolations in his [Beethoven’s] own hand in the parts is enormous. There is not a single one in which such things could not be found.” The parts are now in fact complete, since the Esterházy holdings can be supplemented by two later discoveries: The National Széchényi Library, Budapest, houses four additional choral parts, which include the important master copies for the tenor part and a portion of the bass part; and James Armstrong found the missing timpani part in Eisenstadt while preparing his yet-to-be-published catalogue of the Esterházy music archive. Forty-nine parts now exist, a number which agrees with an inventory of the Esterházy holdings made in 1809, just two years after the premiere. These parts, along with what remains of Beethoven's autograph manuscript, together with a complete score (delivered with the parts to Prince Esterházy in 1807) and the first edition published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1812, constitute the extant primary sources for the Mass in C.

Of these, only the parts can help us understand what happened at the premiere on September 13, 1807. Beethoven, at least, thought it went well, or so he reported in 1808 when he offered the work to Breitkopf & Härtel for publication: “Also it has been performed in several locations with great applause, among others at Prince Esterházy's in Eisenstadt for the nameday of the princess.” Two eyewitnesses recorded other reactions. Joseph Rosenbaum, a former official of the Esterházy court, noted blandly in his diary: “[T]o Mass … with unsuccessful music by Bethowen [sic].” A more damning criticism came from the prince himself, when he wrote to Countess Zielinska: “Beethoven's Mass is unbearably ridiculous and detestable, and I am not convinced that it can ever be performed properly; I am angry and ashamed.” Whether because of the perceived novelty of its style or the musicians’ inability to perform it properly, the premiere clearly did not have the intended effect.

Type
Chapter
Information
The New Beethoven
Evolution, Analysis, Interpretation
, pp. 205 - 227
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×