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Ludwig van Beethoven:
The secrets in his Violin Concerto Op. 61

The violin concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven, Op. 61, is one of the most frequently performed works for violin and orchestra today, and it was the first piece that I studied with Prof. Igor Ozim at the beginning of my master's degree at the Mozarteum Salzburg. Prof. Ozim somehow managed to get a copy of the manuscript and brought it into a class once. As I found out, a facsimile print had appeared in the 1960s, all of which were very detailed  Entries of the composer reproduced. When I received my first (and by far not the last) engagement to perform this concert with symphony orchestra in Albania with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra there, I began to meticulously compare the Urtext edition, which is usually used, with the manuscript.

Unfortunately, Urtext editions also make a lot of mistakes. If you  For example, if you want to trace back the current editions of the Mozart sonatas and concerts to the handwriting and the first edition, you would quickly be disappointed with the accuracy. The editors add dynamics (f and p) where they thought it would be useful, but do not indicate that these are not information from the composer. Suggestions are also changed.
I had already
investigated this when recording my Dialogue with Mozart CD - and recently also with the piano trios.

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Rehearsal work on the alternative version with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marta Gardolinska in September 2019 at Poole Lighthouse Photo: @bsorchestra

But compared to what I found in the Beethoven concert, the "Urtext" errors in Mozart's works were pretty insignificant. Although not mentioned in any edition, it turned out that Beethoven wrote an additional "Ossia" violin part in many places (especially in the first and second movements of his concerto). If Beethoven did not want to use something he had written, for example if he  a tune  began and decided to write it differently, he crossed it out. With a lot of passion. But in this concert he very often left two options at the end. This other version does not always offer new musical material - mostly it shows different possibilities for the same material. If you have a repeating arpeggio in A major c2 # -e2-c3 # as a triplet  or divided into 4 and playing c2 # -e2-c3 # -e2 makes no musical difference. So I suspect that Beethoven (who wrote this violin concerto for Franz Clement, concertmaster and orchestra leader at the Theater an der Wien)  has chosen together with the soloist which version is to be printed for the first time. Many passages would have been too high, too difficult. On the other hand, some alternatives actually offer new musical material - such as the beginning of the execution of the first movement (VIDEO) - where at one of the most transparent and magical moments in classical music  another scale, much more playful and curious, tense harmonic combinations follows. Different from what we are used to, a different atmosphere is created. Sometimes I have preferred the known version to the unprinted version - since it makes no musical difference and Beethoven's decision to print the other one has to be respected. My personal scores are full of little extra staves taped over the printed notes.


The upper red markings are the three tones that we are used to today, right at the end of the first solo violin entry.

The lower red mark shows another possibility - playing a scale from a to a instead of an arpeggio.

There was a third and fourth possibility for Beethoven, but he crossed them out very clearly. But two versions remain. Beethoven also implemented some of the alternative versions in his piano concerto version - as well as his own cadenza.

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