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Beethoven and the French Violin School Author(s): Boris Schwarz Reviewed work(s): Source: The Musical Quarterly,

Vol. 44, No. 4 (Oct., 1958), pp. 431-447 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/740706 . Accessed: 22/01/2012 08:39
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VOL. XLIV, No. 4






By BORIS SCHWARZ EETHOVEN'S early contact with French music left an indelible on his imprint style. While Haydn was homespun,while Mozart was orientedtowardsItaly,Beethoven'smostimportant influence foreign came fromFrance. Althoughtransmuted and thoroughly absorbed,this influenceremained with him throughlife; it can be traced fromearly pieces composed in Bonn to the Ninth Symphony. In Bonn as well as in Vienna, Beethoven's preoccupation with French music was at times quite intense.During his adolescent years in Bonn, he became thoroughly of the acquainted with the repertory pre-revolutionary opera comique. Aftercoming to Vienna, he showed a livelyinterest in the latestworksof the Frenchschool,the lyricdramas of the 1790's, which served as his models forFidelio. His personal contactswith French artists--the violinists Rodolphe Kreutzer,PierreRode, and PierreBaillot--gave him an insight into the highstandardsof violin and the of virtuosity style the so-called French Violin Concerto. The visit of Luigi Cherubini,who came to Vienna in 1805 as a recognized masterof the French operaticstyle, broughtBeethovenface to face with the musician he respectedmost among his contemporaries. In Beethoven'stime,French composersexcellednot only in the field of opera but in a specificarea of instrumental music-the violin conCopyright, 1958, by G. Schirmer, Inc.




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certo. Even before 1780, the French violin school had reached high standards,exemplified by the works of Jean-Marie Leclair and Pierre Gavinits, but the Italian school represented by Giuseppe Tartini and PietroLocatelli was considered supreme. The situationchanged drastically with the arrival in Paris of Giovanni BattistaViotti, an Italian violinist schooled by Gaetano Pugnani. In 1782, Viotti made his d6but at the Concert Spirituelin one of his own concertos.Neither as virtuosonor as composer did he enjoy instantaneoussuccess; therewas some objection to a styledesigned"more to astonishthan to please." 1 The mutual rapprochement, however,was rapid; barely a year later, in April 1783, the Mercure de France reand it ported: "Viotti was received with the most meritedenthusiasm, in France." born him not to for seemsthat the artists being begin forgive For ten years,until 1792, Viottilived in Paris-performing,2 composing, so unique were teaching,and conducting.So strongwas his influence, that his accomplishments as violinist and as composerforhis instrument, of French violin art. Again, he broughtabout a complete regeneration musiciancombine as with Lully, Gluck, and Cherubini,we see a foreign with French traditionand taste that the his native heritageso skillfully resultis acclaimed by the French as theirown product.Viotti'sconcept of the violin concerto-an imaginativefusion of Italian, French, and German elements-was eagerlyabsorbed and developed by his French became known as the French Violin Concerto. disciplesand ultimately was created-Viotti alone composed twenty-nine A vast new repertory Baillot nine. By 1800, the concertos,Kreutzer nineteen,Rode thirteen, and the concertoof the Parisian was obliterated, older concertorepertory school reignedsupremeas the model of its kind. In Paris, thistradition became so ingrainedthat until 1853 (with one exceptionin 1845) no concertosother than Viotti's were used in the public contestsof the Conservatoire. Viotti's French disciples were not only prolificcomposersbut also teachers. As indefatigabletravelers, superb virtuososand conscientious school of French fame the Europe. The luster throughout theycarriedthe of that school was dimmedonlytemporarily appearance by the meteoric of Paganini. The Viotti traditionwas perpetuatedwhen his threemost
1Pierre Baillot, Notice sur Viotti, Paris, 1825.
2After a last appearance on Sept. 8, 1783, Viotti retired from the Concert only at private concerts. He resumed his concert Spirituel and was heard thereafter career in 1792 at London, where he performed his own concertos at the Salomon concerts, side by side with Haydn.

Beethovenand the French Violin School


prominentdisciples-Rode, Kreutzer, and Baillot-were appointed to the facultyof the newlyfounded Conservatoire(1795); theywere also violin method,which appeared in put in charge of writingthe official of French violin-playing 1803. The result was a unique homogeneity which was reflected in the superlativestandardsof Parisian orchestras. The fame of the Conservatoireorchestra-at that time a student ensemble reinforced by a few alumni-reached Beethoven,who said to Baron de Trimont in 1809, "I should like to hear Mozart's symphonies in Paris; I am told that theyare played betterat the Conservatoire than anywhere else." 3 The same orchestra had played Beethoven's First of any of his orSymphonyin 1807 and 1808, the first performances chestral worksin Paris. The violinconcertos of Viottibegan to be publishedin Paris in 1782, thoughsome were composed earlier.By 1792, he had completedtwenty concertoswhich achieved wide circulation; by 1800, "in Vienna and St. Petersburg, in London and Paris, everyone played Viotti." 1 In 1785 or 1786 5 Viotti's Concerto No. 16 was performed in Vienna at one of the subscription concerts of Mozart, who enlargedthe originalorchestration by adding trumpets and timpani."At about the same time,Mozart composed a piano concerto (K. 467) with a pronounced march-like movement.This idealized march characterwas the pulsationin the first hallmark of the "French" Viotti concerto,and Einsteinmaintainsthat Mozart "simplytransferred Viotti'sconcept fromthe violin to the piano concerto."7 Actually,Mozart had used "military" concertothemes before any of Viotti'sworkswere published,forexample in the Violin Concerto in D major, K. 218, written at Salzburg in 1775. Its principalthemeis practically identical with the opening of Viotti's Concerto No. 2, publishedin 1782.
30. G. Sonneck, Beethoven, Impressions of Contemporaries,New York, 1926, p. 73. * A Schering, Geschichte des Instrumentalkonzerts, Leipzig, 1905, p. 204. 5 The year is not clearly established. Alfred Einstein, in Essays on Music, New York, 1956, p. 245, gives 1783, which is obviously an error. In Kachel-Einstein (3rd ed., p. 594) we find the year 1785. Wyzewa and Saint-Foix assume 1786. All are at variance with the latest chronological listing of Viotti's works in Remo Giazotto, G. B. Viotti, Milan, 1956, where the Concerto No. 16 is listed as having been composed in 1789. 6 Kichel 470a. Whether Mozart's Andante K.470 (now lost) was meant to replace Viotti's original slow movement is not established. ' Essays on Music, p. 245.

434 Vit

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Ex. I Mozar:V;olin inD, K.218 (1775) Concerto N

V,ro__ ,o.c


Viotli: ViolinConcerto No.Z,(1782)

the belief that both Mozart and This curious coincidence strengthens Viotti were stimulatedby earlier French concertosin which the march occurredfrequently.8 simiritornel Perhaps less coincidentalis a striking in the tutti of between a Viotti's Concerto No. 7 larity phrase opening (1784) and Mozart's Symphonyin G minor (1788); it supportsEinstein's opinion that Mozart "knew and valued Viotti's work."B
Ex. 2
Violti:Concerto No.7(1784)

inG minor (1788) Mozart: Symphony

1 ,

i '



As for the "military"concertomovement, Viotti was clearlynot its nor did he use it as unequivocallyas his French disciples, originator, that "there is hardlyone among notablyKreutzer. Einstein'sstatement of his twenty-nine concertosthat does not have all the characteristics such an ideal march" 10 is certainlyfar too broad. Actually, Viotti's which is apparent in his tended towardslyricism, musical temperament earliest"Italian" concerto(publishedas No. 3 in 1782 at Paris but composed beforehis arrivalin France) and in the nine "London" concertos (Nos. 21 to 29), writtenafter 1792. Only Viotti's Parisian concertos (Nos. 4 through20, possiblyalso Nos. 1 and 2) n show an inclination towards firstmovementswith a militarypulse, the "contributionof French genius to European music";1'2 but even here there are many exceptions.
8 Abert's statement (Mozart, I, 509) that the French violin concerto "under Viotti" influenced Mozart's violin concertos, is a chronological impossibilityas far as Viotti is concerned. 9 A. Einstein, Mozart, New York, 1945, p. 282. 1o Ibid., p. 305.

The chronology of Viotti's earliest concertos is not entirelyclarified, despite 1'1 of Giazotto (op. cit.). See also E. Chappell White, G. B. Viotti and His the efforts Violin Concertos (dissertation,Princeton Univ., 1957). 12Einstein, Essays, p. 247.

Beethovenand the French Violin School


Proceeding from the fact that Mozart's piano concertoswere published later than the violin concertosof Viotti, Einsteinmakes the fol"It was fromViotti, and presumablynot from lowing bold statement, movement Mozart, that Beethovenderived the idea of a 'military'first forall his concertos."13 While thisseemsa circuitous one mustkeep way, in mind the victorioussweep of the French concerto.By 1795, when Beethovenbegan his Piano Concertoin B-flat, Op. 19, theViotticoncept was the accepted model. The public expected a specificconcertotype, and Beethovencomplied-to a certainextent,as we shall see. Scheringdescribesthe French Concerto as follows:
Attuned to brilliance and splendor,magnificence and dignity, its character revealsitselfat the outsetin the pompousmarchritornels of a partly . . . symbols . .. The FrenchViolin Concertois a heroic,partlylowly soldatesque,mentality a blood brotherof the youthful productof the mood of the Revolution, operas of Cherubini, the best qualities of the Frenchnation.14 MP4hul, representing

The affinity betweenthe Frenchconcertoand the French"revolutionary" is an opera interesting point. In fact, Kreutzer,aside fromhis activities as a violinist, was one of the successful opera composersof the 1790's; and Viotti, Rode, and Baillot, too, were deeply involved in operatic activities. march characterof the French Actually,however,the assertive concertowas establishedwell beforethe Revolutionof 1789. In general, French music of the 1780's foreshadowedin its dramatic intensity the turbulent and aggressive mood of the comingdecade; thus,the Parisian concertosof Viotti chartedthe course fordecades to come. While Viotti said farewellto the "lowly soldatesque mentality"in 1792, his French As the social patternof disciplescontinuedand elaborated his tradition. the audience changed,the concerto-like the opera-acquired a nervous a militantboldness, a technical brilliance geared to impress intensity, an unrulypublic. Yet, to say that "the soloistof the Concert Spirituelwas solelyinterestedin the display of technical artifices" 15 is to belittlethe musical values of the French Concerto.Not untilthe late 1820's-mainly under the impact of Paganini-did virtuosity become the chiefpurpose of the concerto.In itsearlierstages,underthe influence of Viottiand his school, the concertoaspiredto high musical standards.Indeed it is reported that
13 Ibid., p. 246.

14Schering, op. cit.,p. 169. 15 Ibid.


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the opening tuttiof Viotti's ConcertoNo. 18 receivedas much applause of Haydn. as a symphony the French Concerto followed the established threeStructurally, movementpattern; occasionally,the second movementled withoutininto the finale,a principlethat Beethovenused also. The first terruption and three movementwas usually divided into four orchestralritornels solos. A march-like opening was traditionalbut not obligatory;quite a few concertosbegin lyrically while othershave the impassionedsweep and agitationof the contemporary operatic overture.The long-delayed entranceof the soloistwas treatedwith great brillianceand was usually orchestral based on new thematicmaterial,althoughoccasionallythe first theme was used. The second solo stresseda contrastin mode and an of expressionand brilliance; it was customarilya free intensification fantasia,very rarely a "development" of precedingmaterial. The last and a cadenza withinthe coda solo containeda shortened recapitulation of the orchestra.Deviations fromthis norm were rare but significant: a slow introduction(Viotti No. 16), the linkingof second and third of movements(Viotti No. 20; KreutzerNos. 5 and 7), the elimination tutti (KreutzerNo. 7),16 or of an orchestral an introductory coda, which the soloistto end a movement(Kreutzer No. 8)."1 In Viotti's permitted Concerto No. 20 we find a thematiclink between the firstand third movements.Remarkable, too, is the high number of concertosin the in the case of Viotti.1s minormode-ten out of twenty-nine movementthat the march-likecharacterof the first It is primarily French linksBeethoven'sconcertoconceptwiththat of the contemporary school. Viotti "had met it in French music and developed it withinthis 19 though its full realization came throughKreutzer and framework" Rode. Beethoven'smeter (like that of Viotti and Rode) is usuallyfourOf Beethoven'sseven completed alle breve.20 fourwhile Kreutzerprefers concertos (five for piano, one for violin, and the Triple Concerto), the Piano Concerto No. 5-the so-called Emperor Concerto-has the of the war-torn most pronouncedmilitarybearing,perhaps a reflection
16A device used earlier by Mozart, in his Piano Concerto in E-flat,K. 271. 17 Also in Mozart's Piano Concerto in C minor, K. 491. 18Mozart wrote only two concertosin minor,K. 466 and K. 491.
19 Einstein, Essays, p. 246. 2oThe firstmovement of the Piano Concerto No. 3 is usually marked alla breve (see Complete Works Edition and the Kinsky catalogue). However, Kullak's edition (Leipzig, 1882) states explicitly that Beethoven's MS (preserved in the then Royal Library in Berlin) is marked four-four.

Beethoven and the French Violin School


year 1809, duringwhich Beethovenalso wrotetwo marchesformilitary band. Briskand march-like, of his youthful movements too, are the first No. 1 in C and No. 2 in B-flat;the first, "a revolutionary piano concertos quickmarch,should have earned Beethoven,like Schiller,an honorary in the French Republic." 21 The Triple Concerto,Op. 56, is citizenship a genre particularly actually a symphonieconcertante, popular in Paris during the late 18th and early 19th centuries; here Beethoven comes closestto the French concept. The dark-huedmood of the Piano Concerto No. 3, in C minor,seems at first far removedfromany march-like theme reappears in the major mode-first affinity; only when the first in E-flatplayed by clarinetsand horns,then in C 22 by hornsand trumpets-does the militarycharacterassertitself.Nor should one overlook the drum-like motifin the thirdmeasure,which the timpaniintone so in the coda. ominously A drum motif,too, provides an implied march character to the otherwise lyricalViolin Concerto,Op. 61. This characterbecomes more pronounced if one examines the cadenza that Beethovenwrote for the of this work. There the timpani join the soloist in piano transcription an "intrusive littlefour-square quick march" which,as Tovey says,may be "a topical allusion to Fidelio." 23 Even the transcendental Piano Concerto No. 4, in G major (composed in the same year--1806-as the Violin Concerto) has its share of sublimatedmarch music in the second subject of the firstmovementand even in the finale. In his firsttwo published piano concertos (Opp. 15 and 19) Beethoven adhered more closely to establishedcontemporary models, whetherby Mozart or Viotti. But even in these works,composed for his own use as a concert pianist, he went beyond the understanding of his audience. The Bohemian musician J. W. Tomaschek heard Beethovenplay both concertosin 1798 and criticized"his frequentdaring deviationsfrom one motive to another,wherebythe organic connection,the gradual developmentof idea was put aside." 24 Beethoven himselfdisparaged his first two concertosas soon as he had completed the C minor,which he withheldfrompublicationfor four years,until 1804.25
21Einstein, Essays, p. 247. Einstein,ibid., refersto this place erroneouslyas in "D major." 23 D. F. Tovey, Essays and Lectures on Music, London, 1949, p. 321. 24 Sonneck, op. cit., p. 22. 25See Beethoven's letters to Hofmeister of Dec. 15, 1800, and January, 1801; also to Breitkopf& Hiirtel, April 22, 1801.


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With this work, Beethoven freed himselffrom most contemporary conventions. The pulse may still be faintly but here the simimilitary, laritywith the French school ends. Beethovenbroadensthe scope of the first movementand expands it to symphonicproportions;he combines withthe freefantasiaof the French; he restores a thematicdevelopment and strengthens the principleof equality and rivalrybetween orchestra and soloist. At the same time he achieves greater concentrationand economyof thematicmaterial,which is shared by orchestraand soloist. Of Beethoven'sremainingconcertos,each is a marvel of inner organization,a studyin itself.Even where certainnovel procedureswere anticipated by others,Beethoven remainssupreme. Only in the Triple of the Concerto does he seem to bow occasionally to the conventions day, but even here the final Rondo alla polacca is a far cry fromthe Frenchdisplaypiece. customary Einstein's assertionthat Beethoven used the "musical categoryof . . only in the concerto"26 is but conditionally the military acceptable. . True, the concerto is the only genre in which Beethovenis consistent in his use of an idealized march rhythm. However, the occasional use in categoriesotherthan the concertois veryfrequent; of such rhythms Nos. 1, 3, 5, and 9, in the trios we can find them in the symphonies Op. 8 and Op. 11, in the quartetsOp. 59, No. 2, and Op. 132, in the Violin Sonata Op. 30, No. 2, in the piano sonatas Op. 26 and Op. 101; in fact, his very first work, writtenat the age of eleven, was a set of piano variations on a march by Dressier. Beethoven's two "heroic" funeral marches (in Op. 26 and in the Third Symphony) bring to of the French Revolution-the mind the two great funeralcompositions Marche lugubre by Gossec (for Mirabeau's funeralin 1791) and the Hymne fundbreby Cherubini (in memoryof General Hoche, 1797). motivatedthe march interludes considerations Textual or programmatic in Fidelio, in the Agnus Dei of the Missa solemnis,in the Battle SymThese added phony,Op. 91, and in the finaleof the Ninth Symphony. and forwind instruments to his numerousmarchesforpiano four-hands had for Beethoven show that the singular fascinationmilitary rhythms of the concerto.Incidentally, went far beyondthe confines manyof these Einstein'scuriously marches are marked alla breve,which refutes rigid " measure is four-four statementthat "the military time." to the concerto,we findthat Beethoven'sslow movements Returning
26 Einstein, Essays, p. 246. n Ibid., p. 249.

Beethoven and the French Violin School


have verylittlein common with the conventionalFrench romance,as it was usuallycalled. Viotti and his discipleskeptthe slow movements brief and comparatively unadorned--one solo framedby two brieforchestral with the embellishments added by the performer ritornels, who, in most cases, was the composer.Beethoven'sslow movements belong to his most and sensitive creations. His melodic line does not permitany imaginative improvisation;the elaborationsare worked into the text with minute care. Closest to contemporary taste were Beethoven'sfinalmovements. In the French Concerto, the rondeau finales are full of piquancy, brilliance, and wistfulhumor. From theirforeigntravelsthe virtuosocomthat were incorporated posers broughtback tunes and dance rhythms into the finales;boleros,polonaises,and rondosin the Spanish, Russian, and Hungarian mannerwere the fashionof the day. Beethovenacknowlinterludeof the finale of the Piano edged this trend in the gypsy-like Concerto No. 1, in the Rondo alla polacca of the Triple Concerto, in the rondo of the Violin Concertowithitsperhapsslightly trivialG minor episode. Contraryto the popular concept, however,were such sections as the fugato in the Piano Concerto No. 3 or the heavily syncopated of the rondoof the EmperorConcerto. rhythms While Beethoven's piano works generallyreflecthis own keyboard he was on less familiargrounds in his violin compositions. virtuosity, As a youthin Bonn he played the violin and the viola; in Vienna, he took violin lessonsand triedsome of his own violin sonatas with Ferdinand Ries; the resultswere "awful music." 28 His collaborationwith Viennese violinists like Franz Clement,Ignaz Schuppanzigh,and Joseph Boehm was usefulthoughhe was inclinedto scoff at advice. More casual was Beethoven'scontactwithvisiting virtuosos, yethe may have gathered some valuable information about the French violin style throughthe visitsof Kreutzer,Rode, and Baillot. Examples 3 and 4 show a certain melodic affinity although Beethoven's interestin the French violin school was primarilyconcerned with the technical aspects of the instrument. Kreutzer came to Vienna in 1798, accompanyingthe French ambassador, General Bernadotte.Beethoven,who at that time was a frequent visitorat the French legation,may have met and heard Kreutzer there. In 1804 Beethoven rememberedKreutzer as "a good, amiable

F. Ries, in Sonneck, op. cit., p. 58.


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Ex. 3 Kreutzer:Concer+o No.2(c. 1785)

Beethoven:ViolinSona+a Op 24 (1801)

Ex. 4 Vioti: Concero

Beeihoven'Duo fojola No.

1784) and, Celo (c. 795-98)

BeeThoven Op. 18, No.4(c. QGuarte, oo1800) ' * b i~ [, , Ii~


man who duringhis stayheregave me much pleasure.His unaffectedness and natural manner are more to my taste than all exterieur or interieur of most virtuosos."Beethovenalso thoughthighlyof Kreutzer'smusical ability,for he decided to dedicate his Violin Sonata Op. 47 to him. "Since the sonata is writtenfor a first-rate player,the dedicationis all 29 The work was originally the more fitting." composed for the violinist George Bridgetower;the dedication to Kreutzer was an afterthought,30 planned as a surpriseto the recipient.PossiblyKreutzer resentedthis the dedicationor sequence of events; at any rate,he did not acknowledge play the sonata in public. Obviously Beethoven misjudged his "good towards Beethoven's friend,"for Kreutzer continued to show hostility works when the conductor Frangois Habeneck tried to introduce the to the Parisian public. Accordingto Berlioz,Kreutzer Second Symphony 31 The found Beethoven'sSonata Op. 47 "outrageouslyunintelligible." whole concept of equal partnership struck him have as absurd; in may those days, the virtuosoexpectedpreferential even in chamber treatment music. On the otherhand, this sonata certainly did not lack brilliance; in fact, Beethovenhad planned it "in a very concertantestyle,in the mannerof a concerto."32 While the second and third33movements show
29Both quotations from letter to Simrock, Oct. 4, 1804. ments concerning this work. In the article Kreutzer the facts are stated correctly, while the entryKreutzer Sonata is wrong. 3' H. Berlioz, Voyage musical en Allemagne et en Italie, Paris, 1844, p. 263f. 32 In un stilo molto concertato, quasi come d'un Concerto, wrote Beethoven on the inside of his sketchbookof 1803 (described by G. Nottebohmr). 33The finale of the Kreutzer Sonata was originally written for the Violin Sonata Op. 30, No. 1.
30 The latest (5th) edition of Grove's Dictionary contains contradictorystate-

Beethoven and the French Violin School


is "outrageously" an idiomatictreatment of the violin,the first movement the piano tends to overpowerthe violin,which awkward; furthermore, is oftenheld in too low a register.34 Beethoven did not compose another violin sonata for many years. The completionof his tenth and last sonata (Op. 96) for piano and violin was hastenedby the arrival of the famous French violinistPierre movementseems to have Rode, who visitedVienna in 1812. The first been writtenearlier; now, Beethovenset out to complete the work for a performance by Rode and ArchdukeRudolph. Workingon the finale, the composersaid in a letter: "In writingit, I must consider Rode's yet that styleof playing.We are fond of rushingpassages in our finales, does not suit Rode, and-it really troubles me somewhat."35Why "rushingpassages" should have bothered a virtuosoof Rode's rank is hard to understand; certainlyRode's own compositionscontain more technical difficulties than Beethoven ever cared to incorporatein his sonatas.True, in 1812 Rode was alreadyon the decline,and his colleague Louis Spohr "missed his formerboldness in conquering great difficulties."36 If Rode was disappointing in his own music,he must have been even more so in a work as alien to him as Beethoven's Op. 96. The and prior concerned; afterthe first composerwas frankly performance, to a second, he decided to send the violinpart to Rode forfurther study. "I hope he won't mind my sendingthe part. I wish to God therewere be in a need to beg forgiveness for doing so; matterswould certainly better A contemporary reviewstatedthatthepiano part (played shape.""'37 of the work "withmore understanding by the Archduke) was performed and with more soul" than the violin part; "Mr. Rode's greatnessdoes of the connot seem to lie in this typeof music but in the performance Beethoven in an otherwise Curiously, composition, certo."38 introspective satisfied his desire for a "rushingpassage" in the final measures of the sonata, which contain an extremely exposed run. The amusingsimilarity of Beethoven'sfinalethemewitha tune froman operettaby J. A. Hiller (Der lustigeSchuster) was pointed out by Nottebohm.39
34Carl Czerny's unverified story (see Thayer-Krehbiel, II, 10) according to which Beethoven presumably borrowed a theme of Kreutzer for the Sonata Op. 47 (closing subject, firstmovement) is a myth. 35 Letter to Archduke Rudolph, Dec., 1812. 36Louis Spohr, Autobiography,London, 1878, I, 165. 37Letter to Archduke Rudolph, Jan., 1813. 38Glbggl's Musikzeitung, Jan. 4, 1813. 3 G. Nottebohm,Beethoveniana, Leipzig, 1872, pp. 26-30.


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More impersonalwas the meetingwith the French violinistPierre Baillot, who was introduced to Beethoven in 1805. Ten years later, Baillot's name is mentionedin a letterfromKarl Amenda to his old friendBeethoven:
instruThere, in Mitau, I also heard Baillot fromParis. Oh, what a powerful Baillot's soul . . . He was in Vienna, mentis the violin when it speaks through to all others,and about you, preferred yourcompositions spoke with enthusiasm admittedthat he played foryou only once, but in greatembarrassment .. ."o

This letter,writtenin 1815, gives no indication as to when Amenda spoke to Baillot; they must have met when Baillot passed through enthusiasm Courland on one of his journeysto Russia. Baillot'sprofessed for Beethovenwas no idle talk. In 1814 he establishedchamber-music concertsin Paris (modelled afterSchuppanzigh's concertsin Vienna), of Beethovenin Paris. to the understanding which contributed decisively season of the Socidtddes Concerts du ConIn 1828, during the first Violin Concerto of servatoire,Baillot played the completelyforgotten Beethoven, which, since its premierein 1806, had received only one of the French school, in Berlin,in 1812. Anotherviolinist performance, Henri Vieuxtemps, played it in Vienna in 1834. But not until the the concertoin London in thirteen-year-old Joseph Joachimperformed 1844, with Mendelssohnas conductor,did the workbegin to win popularity.As late as 1855, the eminentLouis Spohr-who rejectedthe late worksof Beethovenwhile enthusiastically approvingRichard Wagnerof the BeethovenConcerto,"This said to Joachim aftera performance is all verynice, but now I'd like to hear you play a real violin piece."41 as the judgmentof Spohr may sound, it was conditioned Insensitive by the virtuosopracticesof the early 19th century.In those days few concertosotherthan theirown; in performing were interested virtuosos theirdisplaypieces had to be tailoredto their"style."Despite its unique from the disparity beauty, the Violin Concerto of Beethoven suffers unidiomatic between a toweringmusical concept and a comparatively Beethoven'sknowledgeof the violin, of the solo instrument. treatment though based on actual playing experience,cannot be compared with for the piano. His violin passages are conventional his creative affinity that and seem at timesto be derivedfromthe keyboard,an impression in G the Piano Concerto of to the due be major, comproximity may
2nd ed., Leipzig, 1911, III, 502. Beethoven, 40oThayer-Deiters, 41A. Moser, Joseph Joachim, Berlin, 1910, II, 290.

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. 4


~ ?4~4V












A Letter fromViotti to Baillot, July 29, 1823

From the Author's collection

Beethovenand the French Violin School


posed during the same year. Beethoven was certainlyaware of the problem; the original score of the Violin Concerto, as described by Tovey, "assignsfourstaves to the violin solo, in orderto leave room for alterations;and in many places all the four staves have been filled."' Revealing, too, is a comparisonbetweenthe violinsolo part and the solo for piano solo and orchestra, where idiomatic part in the transcription adjustmentsare apparent.43 In addition, Beethovenconsultedthe conconcertorepertory of Viotti, Kreutzer,and Rode, who were temporary mastersin exploitingthe technical resourcesof their instrument. The following examples will show certain violinistic similarities.Broken and last movements of his octaves, which Beethovenfavorsin the first Ex 5

7 No.1 iConcertr ("78

Beethoven Violin Concero, Is'


Ex. 6 Kreutzer: o No.6 Concn (c.1790)

Ex. 7

Vio1*i:Rondos of Concertos No.1 and6

2 D. F. Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis (Concertos), London, 1936, p. 87. 4 See O. Jonas, Das Autograph von Beethovens Violinkonzert, in Zeitschrift 1930-31, p. 443f.; also F. Miinster,Beethovens Bearbeitungen fiir Musikwissenschaft, eigener Werke,in Neues Beethoven-]ahrbuch,VI (1935), 159f. Transcriptionsof this type were not uncommon during that period. Certain violin concertos by Viotti were arranged as piano concertosby noted pianists like Steibelt and Dussek; other concertos by Viotti, originallywrittenfor piano, were transcribedfor the violin by the composer. A double concerto Op. 3 by Viotti forviolin solo, piano solo, and orchestra,discovered by the writer of this article and recently performed in New York and Chicago, turned out to be an anonymous transcriptionof Viotti's Violin Concerto No. 9 omitting the slow movement. See also Marta Walter, Ein Klavierkonzert von Jean Baptiste Viotti, in Schweizerische Musikzeitung, March, 1955, p. 99f.


The Musical Quarterly

were used in similarfashionby Viottiand Kreutzer(Exx. 5-7). concerto, A favorite device of Viottiwas the elaborationof a melodicline in triplet in Beethoven'sfirst movement (Ex. passages; it reappears prominently 8). Kreutzer,too, had a personal manner in writingembellishing pasEx. 8 Vioti Concerto No.I,Istn m.nifViol;n Concero,ISmovement Bte+hovcn, A.j , ...,i


Beethoven(Exx. 9 and 10). Rode's sages which seemsto have impressed


No.4 (1790) Concerto Kreutzer:

Kreuer: Conerto No.13(1804


io Kreuter: Concerto No.16(. 1805)

ViolinConcerdo (1E06)

to interest violinistic Beethoven; onlyoccatechniquewas too intricately as in the followingtwo excerpts sionally is there a faint relationship, (Exx. 11 and 12). In general,Beethoven'stechnicaldemands are more

Rode: Concer~oNo] (l790,' BesoenVo~

2nd +hemne



modestthan those of the Parisian school, forhe uses the violinpassages not for display but primarilyas elaborations of thematic material

Beethoven and the French Violin School


Thus he has no interest in the characteristic presentedby the orchestra. of various bow strokes-a field in which Rode was unpotentialities
Ex. I2
Rode:Concerto No.6


C~oncerto No.7

Bee~thoven: Violin Concerto

disputed master; most bowings in Beethoven'ssolo part were added by later editors. Double stops are almost entirelyavoided, although an effective passage in the finale seems to point towards a Viotti device
Ex. 13
No.5(first Corncerto movcment) Viotti.

of the (Ex. 13). Nor does Beethoven care to exploit the rich register G string, except forthe juxtapositionof the Rondo theme-an effective contrast previouslytried by Viotti (Ex. 14). In general, however,
Ex. 14 Vioti :Conc.Ao No.6 (1782),Finale

Bethoven: AJi u

Violin Cncro,



Beethoven shows a predilectionfor the silveryhigh register of the E Whether the violinist Franz for whom Beethoven wrote string. Clement, the concerto,was consultedin mattersof technique,is difficult to ascertain. Tovey believes that Beethoven"took pains" in meetingClement's criticismand considersthe autograph of the concerto,with its many alternatepassages,"a lessonin the correct attitudeof a composertowards " a player." Directlyor indirectly, Clementmay well have influenced the textureof the solo part. His playingwas gracefulratherthan vigorous,
44Tovey,op. cit.,p. 87.


The Musical Quarterly

his tone small but expressive, and he possessedunfailingassurance and in and purity high positions exposed entrances.Perhaps in keepingwith the temperament and technicalidiosyncrasies of his interpreter, Beethoven stressed the lyrical aspects of the violin while shiftingthe dramatic accentsintothe orchestra. movementof Beethoven's Despite its implied march pulse, the first Violin Concerto is far removed from the contemporary concept. It is conceived along symphonic carriesmostof the themlines; the orchestra atic materialwhile the solo violinappears at timesalmostincidental. The idea of embedding,as it were, the solo part into the orchestral texture was novel and alien to the virtuoso concept of the 19th century; it found no imitators except Brahms. Anotherdeparturefromconvention was the withholding of the cantabile theme from the soloist until the coda of the movement.The formidableand unusual lengthof the first movementis caused by two full expositions;by a developmentsection expanded throughthe addition of a new episode; and by a ratherfull recapitulationwith cadenza and coda. The lack of contrastbetween the two principalthemesis mitigated somewhatby the openingfour-four which providesa measureof dramaticcontrast. motif, The Larghetto,perhaps the most perfectly realized movementof the with Viotti's most famous three, has in its closing section an affinity work, the Concerto No. 22.* It is noticeable not only in the melodic line and supportingharmoniesbut in the whole manner in which the Ex. 15 Viot)i: Adagio from Concerto No. Z(1793) Solo

, :

n C-. c..

. .

. .. .



eehve ark~ofo


' Brahms was particularly fond of Viotti's Concerto No. 22, to which he seems to allude in his own Violin Concerto; he appears to have been more enthusiasticabout it than about even the Beethoven Concerto. See A. Moser, Geschichte des Violinspiels, Berlin, 1923, p. 391f.

Beethoven and the French Violin School


phrase is placed within the context of the movement (Ex. 15). The fortepreparationof the cadenza at the end also seems to have a certain relationship. Beethoven'sRondo finale approximatesperhaps most closelyto the taste.The theme (possiblyby Clement)46 is not of startling contemporary and it is used somewhat repetitiously. The contemporary originality, criticwho objectedto the "infinite of trivial some repetitions spots [which] became quite tiring"47 may have had the Rondo in mind. From the point of view of violin technique, the last movementis definitely more idiomatic and inventive than the first. When the Concerto is consideredas a whole, one must admit that while Beethoven may not have matched his French colleagues in the efficient handling of the solo part, in the end his genius was bound to into the background.Indeed, one is relegatethe violinistic shortcomings not aware of them unlessdeliberately scanningthe workfromthat point of view.

" "An old Viennese tradition names Clement as the originator[Urheber] of the rondo theme." Schering, op. cit., p. 204. 7 Wiener Theaterzeitung,Dec. 1806. Quoted in Moser, op. cit., p. 507.