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Tempo Measurements in Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven

Sprache/Language

  Deutsche Version

Heinz von Loesch and Fabian Brinkmann

As part of a collaborative project between the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and the Audiocommunication Group of the Technische Universität Berlin, over the course of the last few years we measured—bar by bar—tempi in the first movements of three of Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano sonatas (Appassionata Sonata, Sonata op. 2 No. 3, Hammerklavier Sonata) in interpretations from the 1920s through the 2000s. In so doing we examined a series of factors: Have the tempo and shaping of tempo (‘Tempogestaltung’) changed over time? Are there national or culture-specific traditions? Can inter-subjective tempo decisions be identified? How had the shaping of tempi by an individual artist developed over the years and decades? What is the relationship between interpretational practice and the recommendations in the editions prepared by celebrated interpreters?

Preliminary results of the tempo histories of the three sonatas have already been published elsewhere. ( 1) As their individual, work-specific lines of questioning address issues not handled in the following text, these are also recommended. That this text will not be our last contribution on this subject should go without saying and, given the sheer amount of questions left to be answered, will be apparent to every reader. The text is to be understood as a kind of larger progress report.

We would like to first thank all of the students of the Audiocommunication Group of the Technische Universität Berlin, who, over the course of several semesters as part of the “Appassionata Project,” contributed to the extensive and time-consuming tempo measurements and their statistical analysis. We thank the director of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, Dr. Thomas Ertelt, and the director of the Audiocommunication Group of the Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Stefan Weinzierl for their generous and active support of this project.

A special thanks goes to Dr. Simone Hohmaier of the SIMPK for her efforts and critical reading of the text, to Andrew Noble for the English translation and to Anne-Kathrin Breitenborn of the SIMPK for her work on the graphics. Finally to Jo Wilhelm Siebert who was so kind as to install the text on the SIMPK’s website.

Berlin, September 1st, 2013
Heinz von Loesch and Fabian Brinkmann




Contents

  1. Tempo and Tempo Variations—A Brief Preliminary Consideration of the Relevance of the Line of Questioning
  2. On the Methodology of the Tempo Measurements
  3. On the Selection of the Pieces
  4. On the Selection of the Interpretations
  5. Autograph Tempo in Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier Sonata”—Practice and Theory
  6. Tempo Results
  a. Spectrum of Average Tempi
  b. History of the Average Tempo
  c. Tempo, Tempo Variations and Tempo Amplitude: Austro-German and Russian/Soviet Pianists
  7. Tempo Interpretations
  a. Spectrum of Average Tempi
  b. History of the Average Tempo
  c. Tempo, Tempo Variations and Tempo Amplitude: Austro-German and Russian/Soviet Pianists
  8. Thus Do They All
  9. Multiple Recordings
  10. Artur Schnabel against Himself
  11. From Beat to Beat
  12. Conclusion and Outlook


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Footnote

1. Heinz von Loesch and Fabian Brinkmann,    ‘Das Tempo in Beethovens Appassionata von Frederic Lamond (1927) bis András Schiff (2006)’, in:    Gemessene Interpretation. Computergestützte Aufführungsanalyse im Kreuzverhör der Disziplinen, ed. Heinz von Loesch and Stefan Weinzierl, Mainz 2011 (Klang und Begriff 4), pp. 83–100; id., ‘Die Tempogestaltung in Artur Schnabels Appassionata-Einspielung im Kontext zeitgenössischer Interpretationen’, in:    Beethoven 5 – Studien und Interpretationen, ed. Mieczysław Tomaszewski und Magdalena Chrenkoff, Krakow 2012, pp. 215–224; id., ‘“Diese Sonate ist als reine Virtuosen-Sonate zu beachten” – Das Tempo in Beethovens Klavier-Sonate op. 2/3 von Josef Hofmann (1929) bis Lang Lang (2010)’, in: Vom Klang zur Schrift – von der Schrift zum Klang. Beiträge des Seminars in Münster 2012 und des Kongresses in Magdeburg 2012 (EPTA-Dokumentation 2012), Düsseldorf 2014, pp. 122–135; id., ‘“Feurig” oder “majestätisch”? – Tempo und Deutung im ersten Satz von Beethovens Hammerklaviersonate’, in: Beethoven 6 – Studien und Interpretationen, ed. Mieczysław Tomaszewski und Magdalena Chrenkoff, Krakow (in print).