Beethoven

Beethoven

Beethoven

Beethoven

Excerpt

The idea of writing a book about Beethoven occupied Donald Francis Tovey's thoughts, or the back of his mind, for the last twenty-eight years of his life. It was proposed to him in 1912, and again after the last war in about 1920. In 1936 he dictated the book which occupies the following pages.

Tovey never mentioned either the project or the partial achievement of it to me. In fact, I find considerable obscurity about the motive which actuated his setting about the making of this book. He spoke to me, indeed, with great enthusiasm of Miss Marion Scott book referred to herein on p. 3. Of other causes I can find no trace. The MS. was found among his posthumous papers, in duplicate, unfinished as it here appears. I do not even know why it was never finished. It may have been illness, it may have been other more urgent tasks, that took his mind away from the problem which was so dear to him in conversation as Beethoven's Fugues. He expressed on more than one occasion, I am informed, an intention to re-write the book--no uncommon desire of Tovey's.

But though he never completed the book (and there is only internal evidence that the ufininished chapter was the last in the plan), Tovey began to revise the typescript. He was always a corrector of his own work. Of this book he looked over the typed pages up to p. 51: the last correction in his autograph is the addition of the words 'for this' after the phrase 'our main leading cases' which occurs in the printed text on p. 12. Up to that page, the reconsiderations are numerous and fairly extensive. I give one example here, by printing the opening sentences that Tovey first dictated, and placing in brackets the words he deleted. A turn of the page will show an inquirer the final form of the sentence on p. 1.

Beethoven is a complete artist [. It would perhaps raise vexatious controversy to call him], one of the completest [artists] that ever lived [, but at all events it would be exceedingly difficult to find a better claimant for the title. First, however, we must be sure of what we mean by a complete artist. I intend to use the term without any reference to] the artist's private or official life [, and, therefore, without any implication] that the artist has a temperament, etc.

Another, too long to quote in extenso, occurs on p. 6 of the typescript and p. 2 of the printed text. The printed sentence,' and it was at the disadvantage of fisticuffs against ju-jitsu,' was an autograph addition to the original matter. In a third . . .

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