Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Letters

Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Letters

Article excerpt

To the Editor:

Grant William Cook III is ro be congratulated on his article ("The Cramer Narrative Revisited," The Beethoven Journal 23, no. 2 [2008]: 74-78) throwing new light on the so-called "Cramer narrative," which claims that Beethoven and Cramer heard a performance of Mozart's Concerto in C Minor, K. 491 , during Cramer s visit to Vienna in 1799-1800. My own earlier hypothesis was that this narrative derived from an interview between Thayer and Cramer's widow around 1861. As Cook says, this was a "logical conclusion" at the time, but his new evidence shows that the narrative is more likely to have been sent to Thayer in a letter from Mrs. Cramer in 1868 or shortly thereafter. This would give her testimony more weight than would come from an interview, where there is more scope for misundersranding, and she could have specified the key of the concerto and even its Köchel number in her letter.

All this evidence, however, does not undermine my earlier conclusion that Beethoven and Cramer could not have heard K. 491 during the latter s visit for several reasons. The concerto was not published until about August 1800. During winter 1799-1800 when Cramer was in Vienna, the autograph was being jealously guarded by Mozart's widow Constanze and then sealed in one of fifteen parcels that she sent to the publisher André in Offenbach early in 1800. Moreover, the autograph has only a sketchy keyboard part, which needed to be amplified by Andrés sraff before being published and was therefore not readily performable before then (except by Mozarr himself)· The one known manuscript copy from Mozart's time (now in the Czech Republic) would also have been kept safe to prevent illicit copying or piracy, and this contains a similarly sketchy keyboard part. …

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