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Ludwig van Beethoven, Trio für Violine, Viola und Violoncello (Es-Dur) op. 3, Partitur, Überprüfte Abschrift

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB Bk 2

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A discarded arrangement?

Here you can see a corrected copy of the String Trio op. 3. However, Beethoven's remarks can only be found up to page 19 - all subsequent pages do not contain any corrections or comments in the composer's hand. The copyist had notated the three stringed instruments in the score and joined them together using an accolade, leaving a stave free underneath each accolade. Beethoven made use of these free lines in the first movement and the first 44 bars of the second movement for his comments. The background to these corrections has not been explained up to now. In the first bar Beethoven writes: "Der Herr Violoncellist ist gebeten diesen Takt zu pausiren" (The cellist is asked to rest in this bar), he frequently adds the word "Cembalo" (harpsichord) or the abbreviation "Cemb" to his comments. It was this combination of corrections for the cello part as well as the introduction of the harpsichord (i.e. a keyboard instrument) that surprised scholars, causing them to speculate why. In 1920 Wilhelm Altmann presumed that Beethoven had wanted to rework the string trio for piano trio. It was for this reason that he notated a new cello part (in the fourth stave) and reworked the previous cello part as the left-hand part for a keyboard instrument. The right-hand harpsichord part would then have been the viola part. The viola, as an instrument in its own right, would no longer have had a part to play in this version, and the violin part would have remained unchanged. Another possibility was also considered: even the retention of all the strings would be possible. With an additional harpsichord or piano part, which Beethoven later sketched into the free staves, the copy could be a draft for piano quartet. Beethoven's real intentions remain unknown. There are both pros and cons for both models. Beethoven obviously discarded the arrangement himself, as we would otherwise have an authentic arrangement of the string trio (the arrangement for piano and cello op. 64 is not by Beethoven!) and the markings would not cease after the first two pages of the second movement. (J.R.)

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