The Beethoven Violin Sonatas: History, Criticism, Performance

By Kramer, Elizabeth | Notes, September 2005 | Go to article overview

The Beethoven Violin Sonatas: History, Criticism, Performance


Kramer, Elizabeth, Notes


COMPOSERS The Beethoven Violin Sonatas: History, Criticism, Performance. Edited by Lewis Lockwood and Mark Kroll. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2004. [164 p. ISBN0-252-02932-1. $45.] Music examples, index, bibliography.

Previous scholarly inquiries into Beethoven's ten sonatas for piano and violin have been dwarfed by the breadth and depth of literature about the composer's symphonies, string quartets, and piano sonatas. For the most part, they have been neglected for what they are not. The violin sonatas generated relatively little press in their day. As chamber music, they were not grand works of the public concert. There are no "late" Beethoven violin sonatas that "need to be explained" in light of compositions from the "early" and "middle" periods. In short, they have been largely overlooked because they are seemingly unrelated to the central priorities of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Beethoven research.

The Beethoven Violin Sonatas: History, Criticism, Performance initiates a long-overdue critical appraisal of these works, providing an impressive argument for their significance within Beethoven scholarship. The essays comprising the collection originated in a conference at Boston University in 2000, directed by the collection's editors, Lewis Lockwood and Mark Kroll, and present a variety of approaches to the sonatas. Its contributors draw on perspectives from source studies, reception history, literary theory, and performance practice as they examine the sonatas in their historical contexts.

The volume suggests an overarching concern with the coherence marking Beethoven's violin sonatas as a group by presenting essays on the works in chronological order. Guided by a new reading of a negative review of the sonatas published in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in 1799, Sieghard Brandenburg argues for a more sympathetic understanding of the op, 12 sonatas as located "on the path" (pp. 6, 20) to Beethoven's personal style. Acknowledging the indebtedness of the op. 12 sonatas to Mozart's late violin sonatas and to Beethoven's own earlier attempts at the genre, Brandenburg focuses on expressions of originality and maturity in these early works. The expansive expositions, individualized middle movements and sonata rondo final movements corroborate a dating of the works to 1797 and 1798. Extant sketches support this compositional window and help refute speculation that the sonatas were simply reworked at this time for publication.

In his account of opus 24, Lewis Lockwood argues that in the early nineteenth century Beethoven "set about composing a small group of works in which he aimed to minimize those elements within his style that listeners could readily construe as 'bizarre,' 'ungracious,' 'dismal,' and 'opaque' " (p. 41). The Violin Sonata in F Major, op. 24, exemplifies a lyricism found in several of Beethoven's compositions of the time, including the Piano Sonata in B-flat, op. 22 and the Second Symphony. Lockwood adds the identification of an allusion to the melodic design of Pamina and Tamino's reconciliation duet in The Magic Flute to previous commentators' notes on the violin sonata's lyricisim. In focusing on lyricism in op. 24, Lockwood sees himself and earlier scholars acknowledging the intense interest in the beautiful that surfaced in philosophical and critical writings around 1800.

Richard Kramer situates the three violin sonatas from op. 30 in relation to three of their companions in the Kessler sketchbook, the op. 31 piano sonatas. Drawing on Harold Bloom's theories of poetic influence, Kramer sees Beethoven misreading himself and "clearing . . . imaginative space" (p. 49) in opus 30 and opus 31. The almost one hundred pages of sketches for opus 30 show virtually every stage of Beethoven's close interaction with the generic conventions of the accompanied sonata. The opus 31 sonatas, in contrast, explore anxieties of crafting the opening bars of a solo sonata. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Beethoven Violin Sonatas: History, Criticism, Performance
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.