A Peek Inside Beethoven's Workshop

Monday, May 4, 2015

The large-scale research project Beethovens Werkstatt (Beethoven’s Workshop), which is based at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and the Musicology Seminar in Detmold and Paderborn, is a project coordinated by the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur in Mainz (also the main sponsor of the RISM Zentralredaktion). The research team, now fully staffed since the beginning of the year, is diving into its long-term plans of exploring Beethoven’s compositional methods. Two approaches are being combined here: textual criticism and digital editions. Reworked, corrected, and discarded passages in Beethoven’s manuscripts will be digitized and analyzed with the aid of annotations. The researchers estimate that there are 5,000 to 6,000 pages to work through.

A good visualization of how this work comes together is on the Beethovens Werkstatt website (link to demo): the Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 111, first movement, is amended with a critical commentary (“Erläuterung”) and a comparison variations (“Variantenabfolge”).

We are looking forward to the many discoveries and insights that will be gained from this project!

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