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14 - The Autograph Score of the Slow Movement of Beethoven’s Last Quartet, Opus 135

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2020

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Summary

Beethoven's Autograph Scores as Text

In 1970 Lewis Lockwood published a seminal article drawing attention to the sometimes complex relationship between Beethoven's sketches and his autograph scores. The article demonstrated that any assumption that Beethoven made his sketches for a work and then wrote out the score with no further sketching would be misguided and that autograph scores were sometimes complex documents containing layers of revision. Since then, however, very late changes that Beethoven made in his autograph scores have tended to attract far less attention than those he made earlier in his compositional process during preliminary sketching. This is probably because early changes are generally far more radical, as illustrated by Lockwood's study of the genesis of the Eroica Symphony, which shows plans for a symphony very different from the one that finally emerged. The starting point for a work, as revealed by such sketches, is always of great interest, whereas late changes made at the autograph stage are mostly of small details—textures, figuration, added articulation or dynamics, an added or deleted repeat sign, or occasionally an added or deleted measure. Such changes may seem less significant, but they are of much concern to editors and performers alike. Many are found in the autograph scores themselves, which almost always show changes from their earliest state, sometimes even with whole pages replaced. The text is often altered further in corrected copies or proofs, a famous case being the slow movement of the “Hammerklavier” Sonata, where Beethoven added an extra introductory measure only after the score had been sent to the printers. Nevertheless, the final stage of an autograph score represents a distinctive layer within the compositional process of a work: all earlier changes in sketches, which were made at various stages, and those within the autograph score have been accomplished, while any revisions in corrected copies and proofs are yet to come. The version has its own value, regardless of what changes might be made later.

Several autograph scores have been studied in detail, usually in connection with a published facsimile of the manuscript. Early examples from the Beethoven bicentenary year are Lockwood's discussion of the Cello Sonata, op. 69, and Joel Lester's of the Kyrie of the Missa solemnis.

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The New Beethoven
Evolution, Analysis, Interpretation
, pp. 332 - 354
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

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