Guides to Composers and Their Works


Ludwig van Beethoven

Abraham, Gerald, ed. New Oxford History of Music. Vol. 8, The Age of Beethoven (1790-1830).
        See Histories

Cooper, Barry, Anne-Louise Coldquist, Nicholas Marston and William Drabkin. The Beethoven Compendium: A Guide to Beethoven’s Life and Music.

Johnson, Douglas, Alan Tyson, and Robert Winter. The Beethoven Sketchbooks: History, Reconstruction, Inventory.

Kerman, Joseph, and Alan Tyson. The New Grove Beethoven.

MacArdle, Donald W. An Index to Beethoven’s Conversation Books.

Meredith, William R., and Patricia Elliott. The Beethoven Bibliography Database: User’s Guide and Subject Thesaurus, 3d ed.

Morhange-Motchane, Marthe. Thematic Guide to Piano Literature: An Easy to Use Reference that Identifies and Specifies Grade Levels of Solo Piano Works. Vol. 2, Mozart/Beethoven.

Nettl, Paul. Beethoven Encyclopedia.

Tyson, Alan. The Authentic English Editions of Beethoven.


Cooper, Barry, Anne-Louise Coldquist, Nicholas Marston and William Drabkin. The Beethoven Compendium: A Guide to Beethoven’s Life and Music. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1991. Mus Ref ML 410 .B4 B27x 1992

Use: Intended for scholars as well as those interested in the life and music Ludwig Beethoven.

Coverage: Hard factual data in concise form on life and works. Meant to be a reference tool, not a literary work. Bibliography given for controversial opinions or recently discovered and little-known facts. Minimal cross-references. Gives cronological survey of life, friends and acquaintances, musical/historical background, character and personality, sources on Beethoven, listing and discussion of works, musical style, problems of performance practice, impact on others (from early reviews to current Beethoven research). Incorporates material from other refernce books.

Organization: Divided up into chapters with various subject headings. These topics are: A calendar of Beethoven’s life and works with related events, his family tree, who’s who of his contemporaries, historical background, musical background, individual life, his beliefs and opinions, musical source material, his autograph, analysis of his music, music itself (list of his works in various arrangements, performance practice, his reception and lists of bibliographies and sketches of his works. A bibliography, list of illustrations and contributors follows.

Pros: Attempts to be very comprehensive in discussing the facets of Beethoven’s life.

CWo


Johnson, Douglas, Alan Tyson, and Robert Winter. The Beethoven Sketchbooks: History, Reconstruction, Inventory. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. Mus Ref ML 410 .B4 J58 1985

Use: Good for anyone wanting extensive information on Beethoven’s sketchbooks.

Coverage: Descriptions of the physical state of manuscripts to which the authors had special access. A survey of all of Beethoven’s sketchbooks applying methods of observation of “Reconstructing Beethoven’s Sketchbooks” by Alan Tyson and Douglas Johnson published in JAMS. Determines damage of books and describes the structure to help identify lost leaves. Not a study of the musical significance of the books.

Organization: Includes a survey of the principal collections, techniques for reconstucting the textbooks, and then surveys each individual sketchbook. The surveys start with the desk sketchboks and the pocket sketchbooks and end with sketches for the late quartets and some problematical cases. Also includes a chornological chart, information on watermarks, and the Nachlass Auction Catalogue.

Pros: Extremely extensive and descriptive. Accessible to the specialist and the beginner.

RL


Kerman, Joseph, and Alan Tyson. The New Grove Beethoven. Orig. in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. by Stanley Sadie, 1980. Reprint in The Composer Biography Series. London: Papermac, 1983. ML 410 .B4 K47 1983 (Stacks NOT Music Reference)

Use: Good for anyone wanting concise information on Beethoven’s life and works.

Coverage: More biograhpy than critical discussion. Emphasis on “dictionary entry” facts rather than author opinion and discussion. Covers gerneral chronological facts on life and works. Includes a comprehensive list of works and extened bibliography.

Organization: Chapter order is as follows: Chronological description of Beethoven’s life, chronological description of his works, personal characteristics, posthumous influence and reputation, work list, and bibliography.

Pros: This book is concise and unbiased. Very useful, extensive bibliography and works list.

RL


MacArdle, Donald W. An Index to Beethoven’s Conversation Books. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography, no. 3. Detroit, Michigan: Information Service, Inc., 1962. Mus Ref ML 134 .B4 M3

Use: For anyone wanting to better understand the contents in Beethoven’s conversation books. Helpful for anyone wanting to learn about people in Beethoven’s life. Also valuable as a reference guide to transcriptions of the conversation books.

Coverage: This book indexes three volumes of Schunemann transcriptions of 37 conversation books and a portion of Prod’homme’s “Les Cahiers de Conversation de Beethoven” (a translation into French of extensive execerpts from the conversation books). The author uses the Prod’homme information where Schunemann information stops.

Organization: Alphabetic listing of people mentioned in the books followed by the catalog numbers of the sketchbooks in which their names are found.

Pros: Very useful as a quick way to find wanted information on people in Beethoven’s life in the sources that are indexed.

RL


Meredith, William R., and Patricia Elliott. The Beethoven Bibliography Database: User’s Guide and Subject Thesaurus, 3d ed. San Jose, California: Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, San Jose State University, 1995. Mus Ref ML .B4 B42x 1995

Use: Invaluable for anyone wanting to locate books, articles and essays on Beethoven, and early editions of his scores. Also important for finding out about the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies and their holdings.

Coverage: Catalogs the collection of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies. Literature on Beethoven includes monographs, articles for scholarly music and non-music journals, dissertations and theses, reviews of monographs, essays and other sections of monographs, newspaper articles, and encyclopedia articles. Scores of Beethoven include all first editions, other editions from Beethoven’s lifetime, other important editions published in the 19th century (including arrangements and collected works series), and important 20th-century editions (particularly scholarly critical editions). Manuscripts catalog include sketches, fair copies, contemporary copies of scores not in Beethoven’s hand, letters, and other important documents. Database includes approximately 5,000 records. Provides bibliographic material, analysis of the literature, and library locations of important research materials. The emphasis is on literature on Beethoven and first and early editions of his music. Materials included are in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish. As inclusive as possible for monographs, journal articles, and theses. Other items are selected by the directors’ view of their significance in content and research value.

Organization: Because it is available on-line there are different forms of organization. Organization can be found by author, title, subject, genre, scores by opus numbers, keyword in title or contents note, RISM location codes, or standard number. The manual gives thorough directions on how to search, gives sample records, menu and browsing options, sample searches and displays, directions on how to refine a search, and gives information on the Center and the American Beethoven Society. Also lists project donors.

Cons: Although very extensive it is not completed. By 2004 it is hoped that this source will include retrospective work on all materials on Beethoven published since his lifetime. Project directors hope to re-examine and analyze nearly 22,000 works and then further down the road include non-print materials such as videos, CD-ROM programs, sound recordings, portraits, and sculpture.

RL


Morhange-Motchane, Marthe. Thematic Guide to Piano Literature: An Easy to Use Reference that Identifies and Specifies Grade Levels of Solo Piano Works. Vol. 2, Mozart/Beethoven. New York: G. Schirmer, Inc., 1982. Mus Ref ML 132 .P3 T53x 1982 vol. 2

Use: Useful for anyone wanting and overview of the piano works of Beethoven. Also useful for piano teachers for graded listing of his works.

Coverage: Not a complete listing of all Beethoven’s works, it focuses on the basic piano literature. Graded by demands of musical character and technical problems.

Organization: For each entry gives an excerpt, grade of difficulty, dedication date, description of musical character (overview by movement), technical problems (listed by measure), description of musical character, suggestions, and a subjective/debateable commentary on the overall view of the piece. Each entry is given in English and in French.

Pros: Useful reference of major piano works. Helpful descriptions of the pieces.

Cons: Commentary is biased.

RL


Nettl, Paul. Beethoven Encyclopedia. Midcentury Reference Lbrary, gen. ed., Dagobert D Runes. New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1956. ML 410 .B42 N4 (Stacks NOT Music Reference)

Use: Good for anyone wanting to find general information on Beethoven’s life, works, and people in his life by topic.

Coverage: Topics related to Beethoven such as names of persons and broad genres of his works.

Organization: Entries are alphabetized by the name of a person, or by topic such as “symphonies,” “way of living,” or “sketchbooks.”

Pros: Concise entries, good for general information and browsing.

Cons: There is no introductory note or explanation as to how information is compiled. If looking for something specific it is hard to guess under what entry it could be listed.

RL


Tyson, Alan. The Authentic English Editions of Beethoven. All Souls Studies: A Series of Monographs by Past and Present Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford, no. 1. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1963. Mus Ref ML134. B4 T95

Use: For anyone especially interested in English editions of Beethoven’s works. Also for anyone looking for arguments about their authenticity. Interesting for anyone looking for published works of Beethoven previously not discussed in detail.

Coverage: In-depth study of English editions of Beethoven that appeared in his lifetime. The author includes only those considered “authentic” (one which has the authorization of the composer behind in--his approval and assitance). Includes approximately 40 editions.

Organization: Each entry gives a careful transcription of the title page including an unusual or wrong spelling. The format is indicated. Short phrases identifying the work to which the plate belonged are included (few English publishers used plate numbers at that time). A list of copies available in specific museums for further study is included. Also gives watermark date of each copy and whether it is a later issue or reprint. Lists literature which makes specific reference to the English edition of the work in question (letters, contracts, etc.). Gives textual notes, and information and arguemnts on authenticity.

Pros: Very extensive information on a group of published works not previously studied. Easy to understand.

Cons: Plain explanation of how to use the book in introductory chapters.

RL