In Search of Palestrina: Beethoven in the Archives
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.
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____________________