Karl van Beethoven | Sonata in D major for Piano Four Hands | Reconstruction

Based on the score by Kaspar Karl van Beethoven

When one mentions the name Beethoven, very few people think of Kaspar Anton Karl. This is naturally due to his four year older brother Ludwig. He really left us a formidable musical inheritance. The fact that there was also a brother named Kaspar is known, but only few people are aware of the fact that this brother also composed his own music. That is information possessed only by the experts.

In the last few years there has been a lot of research into the authenticity of Ludwig van Beethoven’s work. Namely works in which there are no or hardly any sketches in existence. There was always doubt concerning the authenticity of the Zwölf Menuette WoO 12. This is because the instrumentation and technical composition deviated from other works during this same early period. The handwriting of different minuets have been compared lately. Large differences were seen in comparison to Ludwigs style of writing. It became clear that in fact Karl van Beethoven must have been the author.

Karl composed other works that were previously thought to be from Ludwig, such as Pianotrio in D major Anhang 3, Rondo in B flat Anhang 6, and the Quatre Mains sonata in D major. This work, which was probably composed in 1799 was neither published, edited or performed. However, some works must have been published from him because the publisher F.A. Hoffmeister in Vienna stated in January 1800: “… ganz neu zu haben von Carl van Beethoven…

The Quatre Mains Sonata in D major is an under-appreciated work and, as far as we know, this is its first edition. With a couple of necessary interventions and adjustments, a very nice quatre mains piano sonata has arisen, despite some musical weaknesses here and there. The quatre mains literature is not very thickly studded with original work. This Quatre mains Sonata in D major can meet this need! Above all it is fascinating because it is a work composed by the brother of…

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.

Beethoven | Piano Concerto No. 6 in D major | First movement

Based on score and sketches by Ludwig van Beethoven Unv 6 Hess 15

Beethoven wrote 256 bars of the Sixth Piano Concerto, spread over 30 pages. The handwritten version of this is kept in the Berlin State Library. In addition, there are 114 pages of separate sketches preserved in various other libraries. Cees Nieuwenhuizen studied detailed digital copies of all these scores and sketches to get a complete picture of the material. The sketches and the scores are interesting and extensive.

Autograph score MS Artaria 184 Beethoven Hess 15

Measures 1-4. Autograph score MS Artaria 184, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin

The score is not a musical reduction but rather a rough ‘concept’. Beethoven made such concepts at a very early stage, capturing the most important information about the entire part: key, modulation, form, dramatic twists, solo parts etc.
Such a rough concept cannot be turned into a playing version without a proper degree of additional input, it needs some
‘additional’ composing. Therefore, we prefer not to speak about a ‘reconstruction’, but rather about a ‘playable work based on material from Beethoven’. All of Beethoven’s material is used unaltered, the rest is completion. That distinction is important, because similar compositions are easily presented as an ‘unknown Beethoven’, which does not do justice to Beethoven. We will never know what Beethoven exactly had in mind with this concert, but Cees Nieuwenhuizen sure managed to create an exciting piece of music!

Beethoven | Piano Concerto in F major | First movement

Based on the first movement of the 8th symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven opus 93

Arrangement Cees Nieuwenhuizen opus 74