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

By Sieghard Brandenburg | Go to book overview

19
In Search of Palestrina: Beethoven in the Archives

RICHARD KRAMER

To find Palestrina--to reconstruct a musical language of the sixteenth century--was, for Beethoven, an exercise bordering on the obsessive. This abiding inquiry into earlier texts we have come to understand as an obligatory component in the formulation of Beethoven's late style. The evidence, disguised in those miscellaneous papers that Beethoven protected until his death, must be picked over gingerly and with the scholar's scepticism.


1

The topic, breeding much speculation on precious little evidence, was revived not long ago in Sieghard Brandenburg's investigation into the roots of the 'Heiliger Dankgesang' from Opus 132.1 Seeking to establish the theoretical antecedents for the work, Brandenburg was led to question a line of argument put forth by Abraham Klimowitsky, who proposed that a copy in Beethoven's hand of a Gloria Patri from the Magnificat tertii toni by Palestrina might be taken as evidence of research into modal practice preliminary to the Lydian exercise in the quartet.2

____________________
1
Sieghard Brandenburg, "'The Historical Background to the Heiliger Dankgesang in Beethoven's A-Minor Quartet Op. 132'", in Alan Tyson (ed.), Beethoven Studies 3 ( Cambridge and New York, 1982), 161-91.
2
Ibid. 162-3. See Abraham Klimowitsky, "'Ein Gloria von Palestrina als Modell des Heiligen Dankgesanges aus Beethovens Streichquartett op. 132'", in Harry Goldschmidt, Karl-Heinz Köhler, and Konrad Nieniann (eds.), Bericht über den Internationalen Beethoven-Kongress, Berlin 1977 ( Leipzig, 1978), 513-17 (original Russian text, 223-8). For the provenance of the leaf (now in St Petersburg) and a facs., see Nathan L. Fischman, "'Beiträge zur Beethoveniana'", in Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft, 9 ( 1967), 323-4 and pl. Vllb. The Gloria is from the Magnificat tertii toni in the first book of the Magnificat octo tonum published in 1591, as Brandenburg reminds us. And he further notes that the Gloria was included in neither the first part of Gottlieb von Tucher Kirchengesänge der berühmtesten älterenitaliänischen Meister gesammelt und dem Herrn Ludwig van Beethoven geuidmet

-283-

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