Other Works

Chapter V: Other Works of Questionable Authenticity

A few remaining works, not actually published in organ editions, are nevertheless regarded as organ works by some few sources. This chapter will discuss their attribution and seek to clarify their identities.

Works Attributed to the Organ by Karl and Wilhelm Krumbach

In a recording of the Musical Heritage Society entitled Ludwig van Beethoven: Music for Organ, Karl and Wilhelm Krumbach (annotator and performer) include three pieces never before cited as organ works: Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach (1793), Praludium [sic] in F Minor, WoO 55, and Fugue in C Major (c. 1795). [1]

Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach

In his annotations to the recording, Karl Krumbach states that the Fugue Cycle in D Minor is one of Beethoven’s most significant exercises completed while studying under Albrechtsberger in Vienna. The work, completed in 1793, is “based on adaptations of themes from Bach’s Art of Fugue.” He further states:

Like Bach’s Art of Fugue, they were not intended for a specific instrument, but only the organ can render them adequately, and the traditional links between organ and fugue provide a further justification. [2]

The six fugues of the cycle are:

  1. Fuga a tre (Hess 237, no. 4)
  2. Fuga a 4 (Hess 238, no. 2)
  3. Fuga a 4 con c.f. (Hess 239, no. 2)
  4. Fuga duplex (Hess 243, no. 4)
  5. Fuga a 4 cromatica (Hess 238, no. 4)
  6. Fuga a tre sogetti (Hess 244, no. 1)

Their opening measures are given in figures 61a-61f.

Fig. 61a. Fuga a tre (Hess 237, no. 4) from "Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach"
Fig. 61a. Fuga a tre (Hess 237, no. 4) from “Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach”
Fig. 61b. Fuga a 4 (Hess 238, no. 2) from "Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach"
Fig. 61b. Fuga a 4 (Hess 238, no. 2) from “Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach”
Fig. 61c. Fuga a 4 con c.f. (Hess 239, no. 2) from "Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach"
Fig. 61c. Fuga a 4 con c.f. (Hess 239, no. 2) from “Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach”
Fig. 61d. Fuga duplex (Hess 243, no. 4) from "Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach"
Fig. 61d. Fuga duplex (Hess 243, no. 4) from “Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach”
Fig. 61e. Fuga a 4 chromatica (Hess 238, no. 4) from "Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach"
Fig. 61e. Fuga a 4 chromatica (Hess 238, no. 4) from “Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach”
Fig. 61f. Fuga a tre sogetti (Hess 244, no. 1) from "Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach"
Fig. 61f. Fuga a tre sogetti (Hess 244, no. 1) from “Fugue Cycle in D Minor on Themes of J. S. Bach”

Published sources

Seyfried includes the first, fourth, and sixth fugues in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Studien im Generalbasse, Contrapuncte und in der Compositions-Lehre. [3] He also lists the subjects of the second and fifth fugues; [4] the third fugue is omitted altogether. All but the first fugue are included in Nottebohm’s Beethoven’s Studien. [5]

Manuscript sources

The pieces of the so-called fugue cycle are part of the large Beethovenautograph in the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. [6] The first fugue is written on twelve-stave manuscript paper; the others are on sixteen-stave paper. Each voice is assigned to a separate staff. All but the first fugue have four-stave braces; the first uses three-stave braces. [7]

The Fugue Cycle in D Minor as an organ work

There is no evidence that Beethoven ever intended the six fugues to be grouped as a cycle. After examining Beethovenautograph 75, Dr. Hedwig Mitringer of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde wrote that the six fugues are not grouped together in the autograph and that there are no visible indications to suggest that the fugues were intended as a cycle. [8] Neither Seyfried, Nottebohm, nor Hess mention any D minor fugue cycle in their treatments of Beethoven’s fugues completed under Albrechtsberger. Instead they group the fugues of the so-called cycle with fugues in other keys, according to number of voices or techniques involved. [9]

It therefore seems certain that Beethoven did not intend the fugues of the Fugue Cycle in D Minor as a group. They are instead separate exercises, grouped together for organ by Karl and Wilhelm Krumbach because of their common tonal centers.

Fugue in C Major (Hess 64)

The Fugue in C Major, composed in 1794 while Beethoven was studying with Albrechtsberger, has recently experienced a degree of notice through its discussion in articles by Alan Edgar Frederic Dickinson and in John V. Cockshoot’s book entitled The Fugue in Beethoven’s Piano Music. Both Dickinson and Cockshoot identify the fugue as a piano work. [10] Only the Krumbachs include it as an organ work.

Fig. 62. Opening measures of Beethoven's Fugue in C Major (Hess 64)
Fig. 62. Opening measures of Beethoven’s Fugue in C Major (Hess 64)

Editions

The Fugue in C Major has been published in at least five editions, the most recent of which is in volume two of Joseph Kerman’s Ludwig van Beethoven: Autograph Miscellany from Circa 1786 to 1799. [11] Dickinson has published an edition in two periodicals, and Jack Werner has edited a piano edition. [12] The work is also included in volume nine of Hess’s Supplemente zur Gesamtausgabe. [13]

Manuscript

The piece is found on f. 158r of British Museum Additional 19801; ff. 39-162 of the manuscript comprise the “Kafka” sketchbook, the earliest extant collection of Beethoven’s sketches. [14] The fugue’s four voices are written on two-stave braces, occupying the first twelve lines of the sixteen-line page in oblong format. The remainder of f. 158r contains fragments of the Sonatina in C Major for Mandolin and Piano (WoO 44a). [15] Folio 158v consists of sketch fragments of what Kerman identifies as variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano” for for violoncello and piano and a Symphony in C, Introduction–Allegro. [16] In the upper left-hand corner of f. 158r is the word “Fuge.” Beneath line 12 are the words “ma Chi tutti può far que etc.” [17]

Medium

All sources agree that the Fugue in C Major is intended for keyboard. Beethoven himself, however, gives no indications regarding its actual keyboard medium. While Kerman identifies it simply as a keyboard piece, Werner and Cockshoot specifically label it a piano piece. [18] Dickinson concedes that it is a piano piece, but adds that it would be effective on the organ. [19]

An examination of the piece shows that it is playable on either piano or organ. There are, however, passages that would be awkward on either instrument. As show in figure 63, measure 36 requires a hand capable of spanning a tenth if performed on the piano; on the organ, with the aid of the pedals, the measure would be much simpler.

Fig. 63. Beethoven's Fugue in C Major (Hess 64), mm. 33-38
Fig. 63. Beethoven’s Fugue in C Major (Hess 64), mm. 33-38

The reiteration of the dominant pedal point at the beginning of each measure in bars 33-36 (fig. 63) suggests piano performance; on the organ it would be more characteristic to tie the notes.

Conclusion

Although it is impossible to establish the medium of the Fugue in C Major (Hess 64) with absolute certainty, the current consensus favors the piano. At the time he wrote the piece, Beethoven had forsaken the organ as a performing instrument and had begun to focus on the piano. It is therefore likely that the Fugue in C Major is intended for piano solo.

Prelude in F Minor (WoO 55)

The Prelude in F Minor (WoO 55) was first published in Vienna in January 1805. The title page of the first edition begins: “PRÉLUDE / pour le / –Pianoforte– / composé / par / LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN . . . .” [20] In his Thematisches Verzeichniss der im Druck erschienenen Werke von Ludwig van Beethoven, Nottebohm observes that a copy of the first edition bears the inscription “à l’âge de 15 ans” in a strange hand. [21] If that inscription is correct, the piece would date from about 1785 or 1787. [22}

Fig. 64. Opening measures of Beethoven's Prelude in F Minor (WoO 55)
Fig. 64. Opening measures of Beethoven’s Prelude in F Minor (WoO 55)

Only the Krumbachs claim the work for organ. All other sources acknowledge it as a piece for piano, as recorded on the title page of the first edition. Cockshoot concedes, however, that

This short piece, though for pianoforte, appears more suitable for the organ (manuals only), and seems a conscious imitation of J. S. Bach’s organ works, some of which Beethoven may have known as a result of his teacher Neefe’s being then the court organist at Bonn. [23]

Cockshoot’s observation is valid: the prelude does seem better suited to organ performance. But there there is no supporting documentation to indicate that it was intended as an organ work.

It is possible that Beethoven did write the prelude for organ while in Bonn; perhaps he even performed it on the organ in the electoral chapel. All such hypotheses are, however, purely conjectural. It may be concluded, therefore, that the Prelude in F Minor (WoO 55) is not a legitimate organ work.

Praeludium für Orgel, C-dur (Hess 310)

In his Verzeichnis, Hess lists a Praeludium für Orgel, C-dur under the index number 310. Concerning the piece he writes: “Ein solches soll sich in einem Bande ’87 kleine Praeludien,’ herausgegeben von Paul Honegger, befinden.” No further bibliographic information is given. [24] An extensive search of bibliographic tools for English, French, and German publications has uncovered no such edition.

Regarding the pieces indexed under numbers 310-12, Hess writes: “Auf folgende drei Nummern hat mich Fritz Kaiser aufmerksam gemacht, ohne weitere Details nennen zu können.” [25] Hess has included the prelude on second-hand information, and Kaiser has apparently confused the work with some other.

Orgel Variationen

On f. 123 of the British Museum Additional 29801 (the “Kafka” Sketchbook) [26] are what at first glance appear to be sketches of some organ variations. Beethoven’s inscription in the upper right-hand corner of  f. 123v reads: “Orgel Variationen.” [27] Until 1959 their true identity remained unknown. In that year Cockshoot identified them as sketches for the Variations on “Venni amore” (by Vincenzo Righini) for Piano (WoO 65). [28] Composed in 1790, the variations were first published in Mannheim in 1791. [29]

Concerning the manuscript Cockshoot writes:

In the top right-hand corner of one leaf Beethoven has written Orgel Variationen, but the sketches that follow seem to have no connexion with the organ and sometimes . . . exceed the lower range of a manual. It is possible that Beethoven had originally intended to devote the page to some organ variations but used it for these piano variations instead. [30]

Kerman, on the other hand, speculates that Beethoven may have added the inscription at a later date. [31] Cockshoot’s thesis seems more probable. Beethoven would presumably not have indicated that the pieces were for organ after they had already been published for piano.

It may therefore be concluded that the legend “Orgel Variationen” does not indicate an organ work and is not connected with the sketches for Beethoven’s Variations on “Venni amore” (by Vincenzo Righini) for Piano (WoO 65).

Conclusion

Of the five pieces or sketches discussed in this chapter, only one–the Fugue in C Major–has any claim as a legitimate organ work. The Fugue Cycle in D Minor, the Prelude in F Minor (WoO 55), the Praeludium für Orgel, C-dur (Hess 310), and the Orgel Variationen are not part of the corpus of Beethoven’s organ works.

Footnotes

[1] Ludwig van Beethoven, Music for Organ (Complete), performed by Wilhelm Krumbach (Musical Heritage Society MHS 1517), side 1, bands 3-4; side 2, band 2.

[2] Ibid., record jacket notes.

[3] Ignaz von Seyfried, Études de Beethoven, trans. François Joseph Fétis, 2 vols. (Paris: Schlesinger, 1833), 2:192-93, 283-88, 313-19.

[4] Ibid., pp. 205-6. See also Gustav Nottebohm, Beethoven’s Studien: Beethoven’s Unterricht bei J. Haydn, Albrechtsberger und Salieri (Leipzig und Winterthur: J. Rieter-Biedermann, 1873; reprint ed., Wiesbaden: Sändig, 1971), p. 72.

[5] Ibid., pp. 100-102, 120-24, 172-75, 106-8, 180-84 respectively.

[6] Cf. note 10 on “Organ Trios” page.

[7] Microfilms for the six fugues of the fugue cycle were made available by Dr. Hedwig Mitringer of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, who searched them out from among the exercises of Beethovenautograph 75. Dr. Mitringer supplied no folio references.

[8] Dr. Hedwig Mitringer, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, letter to the author, Vienna, 2 March 1976.

[9] Seyfried, pp. 181-325; Nottebohm, Beethoven’s Studien, pp. 70-190; Hess, Verzeichnis, pp. 66-67.

[10] Alan Edgar Frederic Dickinson, “Beethoven’s Early Fugal Style,” Musical Times 96 (February 1955): 76-79; id., “Eine vergessene Fuge Beethovens,” trans. K. H. Wörner, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 116 (November 1955): 101-3; John V. Cockshoot, The Fugue in Beethoven’s Piano Music (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1959), pp. 28-37.

[11] Joseph Kerman, ed., Ludwig van Beethoven: Autograph Miscellany from Circa 1786 to 1799: British Museum Additional Manuscript 29801, ff. 39-162 (the “Kafka Sketchbook”), 2 vols. (London: British Museum, 1970), 2:130.

[12] Dickinson, “Beethoven’s Early Fugal Style,” pp. 78-79; id., “Eine vergessene Fuge Beethovens,” pp. 101-2; Ludwig van Beethoven, Fugue in C, ed. Jack Werner (London: Joseph Williams, 1956).

[13] Ludwig van Beethoven, Supplemente zur Gesamtausgabe, ed. Willy Hess, 14 vols. (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1959-71), 9:15-16.

[14] The “Kafka” Sketchbook is named after Johann Nepomuk Kafka (1819-86), who sold it to the British Museum on 12 June 1875. Kafka purchased the sketches from Artaria & Co. of Vienna. Domenico Artaria likely acquired it in 1827 when Beethoven’s library was sold. According to Pamela J. Willets, Beethoven and England: An Account of Sources in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1970), p. 5, and Kerman, 1:xxii, xxiv, fifty six additional leaves of the sketchbook are found in Autograph 28 in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek (DDR). Autograph 28 is not listed in Bartlitz. According to Hans Schmidt, “Verzeichnis der Skizzen Beethovens,” Beethoven-Jahrbuch, neue Folge, zweite Reihe, 6 (1965-68): 28-30, the manuscript is now owned by the Staatsbibliothek der Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (BRD).

[15] Kerman, 2:83.

[16] Ibid., 1:xxxv.

[17] London, British Museum, Additional 29801, f. 158.

[18] Kerman, 2:130; Werner, p. 1; Cockshoot, p. 28.

[19] Dickinson, “Beethoven’s Early Fugal Style,” p. 77.

[20] Georg Kinsky, Das Werk Beethovens: Thematischbibliographisches
Verzeichnis seiner sämtlichen vollendeten Kompositionen
, ed. Hans Halm (Munich: G. Henle, 1955) , p. 501 (hereafter cited as Kinsky-Halm). The piece is found in Ludwig van Beethoven, Werke, 25 vols. (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1862-88; reprint ed., Ann Arbor: Edwards, 1949) , series 18, no. 195.

[21] Gustav Nottebohm, Thematisches Verzeichniss der im Druck erschienenen Werke von Ludwig van Beethoven, 2d ed. (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1868), p. 149.

[22] See note 9 on “Early Training” page.

[23] Cockshoot, p. 145.

[24] Willy Hess, Verzeichnis der nicht in der Gesamtausgabe veröffentlichten Werke Ludwig van Beethovens (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1957), p. 81.

[25] Ibid.

[26] See note 14, this page.

[27] See Augustus Hughes-Hughes, Catalogue of Manuscript Music in the British Museum, vol. 3: Instrumental Music, Treatises, etc. (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1909), p. 96.

[28] Cockshoot, p. 146.

[29] Kinsky-Halm, pp. 512-13. Beethoven, Werke, series 17, no. 178.

[30] Cockshoot, p. 146.

[31] Kerman, 2:283.

© Weldon Whipple. All rights reserved.

By Weldon Whipple