Covid saves us from Beethoven’s 10th

A plan to present a ‘completion’ of sketches of Beethoven’s 10th symphony has been shelved for at least a year due to the restrictions entailed by Covid-19.

The score has been prepared by ‘an international team of experts headed by Dr. Matthias Röder’ and the premiere had been planned next month at the Telekom Forum in Bonn by the Beethoven Orchester Bonn under General Music Director Dirk Kaftan.

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  • I find the “saves us from” a little condescending. There is an audience for this kind of academic exercise and if it proves musically valuable will find a wider one. Nobody is forcing anyone to go to anything — why sneer at an interesting effort before it has even been presented? The Cooke and Wheeler versions of Mahler’s 10th have interested many Mahler aficionados to the point that they — especially the Cooke — have been frequently preformed and recorded.

    • Dude – lighten up. “Saves us from” was just a joke. It can’t be worse than that Schubert 10th. I hope. The Mahler 10th is worthwhile though.

  • Has nobody encountered the recording that the late Wyn Morris made of it? A bit rickety, as I recall, but certainly not uninteresting.

    • I conducted the US premiere of that version, at Carnegie Hall, with the American Symphony Orchestra. Can’t recall the exact year. It was the opening concert of the season. That same evening I declared to the press and TV that it was a terrible piece, and sure enough it was never performed again. I do recall speaking with my friend Wyn Morris about it, and that we both agreed that it had no resemblance to Beethoven.

  • I once heard a concert in which a previous completion of Beethoven 10 sketches was performed. I want to say that it was the NY Phil with Slatkin conducting, but I could very well be mistaken.

    Anyway, it came across more as an academic exercise than anything else.

  • I am old enough to remember when now and then classical radio would broadcast a recording of the “Jena” Symphony and credit it to Beethoven. I rely on my memory now but I thought it was a nice piece. It has some wit to it; later I learned that it has even more Witt to it.

  • Yes David, I too remember it and I have a record of it too; I don’t think that the symphony could ever have been seriously considered as the work of Beethoven, even in his earliest years as a composer. I seem to remember that the work was speculatively attributed to Beethoven’s grandfather at one time, before it was finally established as Witt’s work.
    There are some other works that have been assigned (tentatively in some cases) to what I have always termed The Old Spuriosity Shop. There’s Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for four wind instruments K297b, fiercely defended and fiercely decried by many eminent musicologists, one of whom (I can’t remember who) said that if this were genuine Mozart he would eat his Koechel catalogue.
    Another such work is the D major Cello Concerto by Haydn, which, I think, is now accepted as genuine. I hope it is – lovely work.
    Back to Mozart, there’s the D major Violin Concerto K271a. This has been recorded several times – notably by Menuhin with Georges Enescu conducting. The majority opinion is that it’s not genuine Mozart but I (maybe in a tiny minority) think it’s a fine work, worth hearing.
    There’s another doubtful Mozart VC, K268, which I think is a weak work, at best possibly constructed from a few Mozart fragments.
    Last, and least, is the so called Princess Adelaide Concerto, supposedly written by Mozart aged 10. I would sooner believe that Mahler’s 8th Symphony is really by Mozart than this shameless schlock. It was finally confirmed as being the work of Marius Casadesus, whose family were among the most notorious music fakers – but that didn’t stop Menuhin from recording the ‘Adelaide’ concerto before its provenance emerged in the 1970s.

    • What this goes to show is that many composers wrote good music, music that is of high enough quality that it could be confused with music by great composers, or plausibly attributed to them. For each “Jena” or “Princess” example, there are other examples of perfectly good works by someone other than the famous composer.

      Then there are the works by famous composers, initially attributed to someone else. The Michael Haydn violin/viola duos, several of which Mozart composed as a favor to M. Haydn, is just one example. Should they be performed any less often because they have M. Haydn’s name on them, or any more often because now they are associated with Mozart?

      There are vast amounts of music out there that is good enough to be worthy of performance today. The HIP crowd figured this out decades ago, but it doesn’t have to be limited to them.

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