Haydn, Mozart, & Beethoven: Studies in the Music of the Classical Period

By Sieghard Brandenburg | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Deconstructing Beethoven's Sketchbooks


Twenty years ago, in an article with a similar title, Alan Tyson and I described a method for reconstructing Beethoven's sketchbooks. Our stimulus was the warning first sounded by Nottebohm that one could not reconstruct the compositional process from sources that were no longer in their original condition. The fact that we said nothing at all about why the compositional process should be reconstructed was mute testimony to our faith in Beethoven and modern musicology: the former could not fail to be interesting and the latter could not fail to be interested. When, a few years later, I struck out on my own, claiming that even reconstructed sketches were not helping us much with the works themselves, Tyson observed wryly that I was sawing off the branch on which I had been sitting. Now, in this volume dedicated to him, I should like to return to the point where I was last seen sawing, in the hope of achieving a softer landing.

The paradox, as I saw it in the 1970s, was that only a mistrust of our ability to master the score could justify the trust we put in the advice of sketches. Why I myself placed so much confidence in the sufficiency of the score I can only ascribe to a fundamentalist's faith in the authority of sacred texts. Nearly everyone else in sketch studies insisted that interpretation is a messy business conducted by mortals--that cleanliness and godliness, though proximate to each other, were equally distant from the practising analyst. The evident truth of this is not very satisfying. As the cartoon on my office door has it: I used to lack confidence in myself, then I realized that I'm no different from everyone else; now I lack confidence in everyone.

When I was reaching these gloomy conclusions I was completely ignorant of the happier state of affairs in literary criticism, where readers were pretty much having their way with texts. I can't claim to be much less ignorant than I was then, but word of Barthes and Derrida, by now anthologized and served up in predigested nuggets in the scholarly tabloids, has reached even me:


Notes for this page

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.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

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

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Haydn, Mozart, & Beethoven: Studies in the Music of the Classical Period


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

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?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 328

matching results for page

Cited passage

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

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?