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"When great musicians play the classics, they often like to recreate the exact feel of a piece of music. But when playing Beethoven, many musicians completely disregard the tempo markings on his original sheet music. Sixty-six out of 135 of them have been regarded as “absurdly fast and thus possibly wrong...."

"Unbeknownst to many, Beethoven himself very clearly indicated what tempi he envisioned using metronome indications that for many years seem to have been forgotten or disregarded, mainly because of their controversial nature. Even today, many look at them with suspicion, or simply ignore them. For many years they were absent from the editions altogether. In the recent Henle edition they were nowhere to be found in the parts (but in the preface to the score). The completely fresh Bärenreiter edition presents them as footnotes."

"Beethoven had carefully given a metronome mark to every movement and every change of tempo in his symphonies. But almost every conductor ignored these speeds and performed the music much more slowly and "grandly"."

Beethoven’s Tempo Indications

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54586757/FULL_TE...

Was Beethoven’s Metronome Wrong?

Mathematic and musical detectives have discovered that perhaps Beethoven’s tempo was so strange because his metronome was broken...

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/was-beethovens-metronome-...

(and the following which is linked to in the above article)

Was Something Wrong with Beethoven’s Metronome?

http://www.ams.org/notices/201309/rnoti-p1146.pdf


The Beethoven Project » How Fast Shall We Play?

http://thebeethovenproject.com/how-fast-shall-we-play/


In tune with the time

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/mar/14/beethoven

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

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Bob,

     Thanks for the input.  I was able to glean that Beethoven's adagio for the Sonata 13 Pathetique was around 46 = eighth note.  This is in line with how most people play it. Sources say he preferred to use rubato in his piano music but less in his orchestral music.  We should expect that a great composer like Beethoven would use a musical and temperate interpretation, though there is speculation that his fast symphonies were played much faster then than they are played today.

     I think we can categorize pianists into two camps, the accompanists and the concertizers.  My piano teacher was a great accompanist.  She could sight read almost any nontechnical music you put in front of her.  These people are used to maintaining a strict tempo.  The concertizers on the other hand, are more interested in interpreting or putting their own interpretation on a piece of music.  They use rubato to wring out every bit of emotion they can.  In my example Ashkenazy speeds up the tempo slightly at the beginning of a phrase and slightly ritards it towards the end.  He is forming phrases as we do in language.  He also pauses after every note of the melody to give emphasis.  (A little of that can go a long way.)  I think Beethoven at his heart was a concertizer and probably played piano with great emotion.

Correction:  Pathetique tempo is 46 = quarter note.


You're welcome Lawrence:)

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito


Lawrence Aurich said:

Bob,

     Thanks for the input.  I was able to glean that Beethoven's adagio for the Sonata 13 Pathetique was around 46 = eighth note.  This is in line with how most people play it. Sources say he preferred to use rubato in his piano music but less in his orchestral music.  We should expect that a great composer like Beethoven would use a musical and temperate interpretation, though there is speculation that his fast symphonies were played much faster then than they are played today.

     I think we can categorize pianists into two camps, the accompanists and the concertizers.  My piano teacher was a great accompanist.  She could sight read almost any nontechnical music you put in front of her.  These people are used to maintaining a strict tempo.  The concertizers on the other hand, are more interested in interpreting or putting their own interpretation on a piece of music.  They use rubato to wring out every bit of emotion they can.  In my example Ashkenazy speeds up the tempo slightly at the beginning of a phrase and slightly ritards it towards the end.  He is forming phrases as we do in language.  He also pauses after every note of the melody to give emphasis.  (A little of that can go a long way.)  I think Beethoven at his heart was a concertizer and probably played piano with great emotion.

I think we can categorize pianists into two camps, the accompanists and the concertizers. My piano teacher was a great accompanist.

Without wanting to get too off topic, I can agree with this idea..in my mind I see them as "performers" and "interpreters" . They correlate to your "accompanists" and "concertizers".

To me the more a piece is composed in line with common practices--more predictable to, and more understood by the listener, the more interpretive freedoms can be taken by the performer, to a point, of course.  This predictability, in no bad sense meant whatsoever,  has a mostly easily discernible, predictable beat, which gives a frame of reference that can be departed from, and returned to and still make aural sense.

OTOH the more "out of the box" a piece of music is, most especially rhythmically , the more strict an adherence to a score is needed so that the performance doesnt really ruin the piece of music, which doesnt have a predictable or steady beat as a frame of reference...

and adding rubato, and taking liberties to its already "unpredictable" nature,  wreaks havoc and destroys the piece.

Thanks for your reply, and for keeping this on topic.

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

This is fascinating. Thank you Bob - I try to play his Dmaj Fugue at least once a month in my local church and take many liberties with the tempo depending on my mood. And the audience of course! The children love to see how fast I can get through it. Not in the spirit of the man himself I am sure - but music must bring joy even if against the composer's wishes.

Youre very welcome Charles--and thanks for your input:)

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Charles Holt said:

This is fascinating. Thank you Bob - I try to play his Dmaj Fugue at least once a month in my local church and take many liberties with the tempo depending on my mood. And the audience of course! The children love to see how fast I can get through it.....

Can we say that the concertizers method is rubato and the accompanist's is roboto?

LOL....THAT'll work.:)

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito


Lawrence Aurich said:

Can we say that the concertizers method is rubato and the accompanist's is roboto?

I agree, Charles. Is it not the duty of a performer to bring the score to life as they see fit? 

Still. in an apparent attempt to modernize Baroque music, I have heard, in my view, horrendous interpretations. I would think that contemporary music would be all about a freer interpretation.

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