Crosscurrents of performance practice in nineteenth-century editions of Beethoven's piano sonata in E major, opus 109

Allison Star


This article examines specific 19th century editions of Beethoven's piano sonata Opus 109 as prepared by two types of musicians: the piano virtuoso/pedagogue and the theorist/analyst. Critical analyses of these two editorial types draw on specific editions from both schools by Franz Liszt (Wolfenbüttel, 1857-61), Hans von Bülow (Stuttgart, 1872), Carl Reinecke (Leipzig, 1886) and Gustav Damm (Leipzig, 1890) in order to illustrate the marked divide in the reception of Beethoven's innovative ideas. These editions represent two often-conflicting interpretations of Werktreue, and thus become repositories for crosscurrents of 19th century performance practice. Moreover, these interpretative traditions reflect a larger polarity in 19th century Beethoven reception: his dual identity as a classical composer esteemed within the newly forming canon, and as an innovator with a view to the future of the piano. Ultimately, a thorough study of Beethoven's autograph, errata, letters, and sketches reveals that there is no one “ideal” edition that matches the Beethoven's intended vision.

© Musicological Explorations, School of Music, University of Victoria

ISSN 1711-9235