Beethoven reconstruction by Cees Nieuwenhuizen

Beethoven | Piano Concerto in A major | Second and third movement

Based on sketches by Ludwig van Beethoven, deest 42

In 2005, Cees reconstructed the slow movement of the piano concerto in A major, from the sketch originating from the Kafka sketchbook. In the sketch of the second movement (adagio) Beethoven did leave some kind of score, including the key signature and even a time signature. However, both the instrumentation and the large continuous lines of the piano part were missing. These had to be extrapolated and worked out. After the world premiere of this second movement (in the Rotterdam Doelen in 2005), there was a lot of speculation regarding the other movements: Above the sketch of the Adagio in D major Beethoven clearly wrote, “Concerto in A”.

Kafka sketchbook first page of the adagio

Kafka Sketchbook f. 154v, autograph miscellany from circa 1786 to 1799, London 1970, published by The Trustees of the British Museum

There are no extensive sketches or drafts of this Concerto in A major. Apart from the abovementioned Adagio in D major, in the various sketchbooks there are several notes from all kinds of other fragmentary piano concertos that have never been completed. However, several sketches can be identified as parts of or preliminary studies for other concertos. There are, for example, themes and fragments which very possibly may be part of the aforementioned Concerto in A major. It is striking, for example, that the rondo theme in A major has many similarities with the theme of the rondo from the First Piano Concerto in C major Opus 15. The fugato is quite similar to the fugato from the rondo of the Third Piano Concerto in C minor Opus 37.

The themes and preliminary studies from the sketchbooks were thus sometimes used in new works, while other themes were never applied or worked out by the composer. After all, Beethoven could have completed some 20 piano concertos on the basis of his many sketches. Why he finally did not get further than his famous five will always remain a mystery.

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