Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109

Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109

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In his thorough analytical study of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, Nicholas Marston suggests a unique way of understanding this important work. The book provides an exhaustive study of its sources and an analytical approach to the structure of the sonata itself. The source study is based on a complete transcritpion of all the surviving manuscript sources for the work; the book includes a large majority of the sketches, and parts of the autograph score. The introductory chapter reivews Heinrich Schenker's work on Op. 109. In Chapter 2 Beethoven's letters, conversation books, sketchbooks and other sources are used to build up a detailed picture of the progess of his work on the sonata. The middle chapters form the core of the analytical study in which the sketches for each part of the three movements are analysed in detail, and the relevance of the sketches to the final version is explored. The final chapter extends the notion of 'sketch' beyond Op. 109 and summarizes the results of the study. No stone is left unturned: even Beethoven's previously misunderstood notation of final barlines in the autograph score is shown to be of structural significance.
The book is important in several respects. The attitude adopted towards the sketches is postive , approaching them as valid compositional acts and not wrong turnings en route to a perfect final version. As an analytical study the book provides perhaps the most extended Schenkerian analysis of a Beethoven sonata yet published, and offers a rare Schenkerian analysis of a variation movement. It may equally be read as a extension or critique of Schenkerian thinking: it goes beyond Schenker both in its espousal of unconventional 'background' strucures and in its suggestion of a single structural plan for the entire three-movement work.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 286 pages
  • 161.5 x 233.2 x 24.1mm | 657.72g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8 pp plates, music examples
  • 0193153327
  • 9780193153325

Review quote

enlightening...painstaking... detailed study.../ Daniel Stearn, Piano, May-June 1999. offers an insightful addition to Oxford's distinguished 'Studies in Musical Genesis and Structure' series...covers new ground and opens the sonata to fresh analytic and performance interpretations. * Choice * With unfailing analytical vision, he has produced a superb collection of sketch interpretations; they will stimulate us to think afresh about a work whose genesis will undoubtedly fascinate us for a long time to come. Cooper has examined the manuscript and printed sources against the background of Beethoven's voluminous correspondence with Thomson, and then related his findings to Beethoven's other compositional activities. The results of his research, which are
presented in a number of tables and summarised in a 'Chronological overview', throws an entirely new light on the genesis of the songs. * The Musical Times *
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Back cover copy

In this book on Beethoven's Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, Nicholas Marston combines source studies and a Schenkerian analytical approach to produce one of the most extensive and detailed studies of a Beethoven piano sonata ever published. The study is based on a complete transcription of all the surviving autograph musical sources: the sketches, a fragmentary Urschrift, and the autograph score. Early printed editions and manuscript copies are also discussed and the text is handsomely supported by extensive transcription from the sources. After an introductory chapter in which previous work - notably that of Heinrich Schenker himself - on this sonata is reviewed, chapter 2 draws upon Beethoven's letters, conversation books, sketchbooks, and other sources to build up a detailed 'biography' of Op. 109. The middle chapters form the core of the analytical study: the sketches for each of the three movements are analysed both to reveal aspects of the genesis of the movement and to build up a particular analytical approach to the final version. The discussion embraces all levels of detail; even Beethoven's previously misunderstood notation of final barlines in the autograph score is shown to be musically significant. In the concluding chapter the notion of 'sketch' is extended beyond Op. 109 and the results of the whole study are summarized. The book might be read as a study in the extension of conventional Schenkerian analysis. Marston argues that individual movements of Op. 109 are structurally incomplete and that satisfactory closure is achieved only at the level of the entire work. The concluding theme-and-variation movement is crucial, and Marston offers a rare Schenkerian perspective onlarge-scale coherence in this genre. But in combining these analytical perceptions with an understanding of Beethoven's sketches more as valid proto-compositions in their own right than as wrong turnings en route to a 'perfect' finished work, Marston also offers a unique and compelling interpretation of this profound and beautiful masterpiece of late Beethoven.
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