ideas from his treatment in choral music of words which themselves interpret the intention of the composer. There is so little but the music itself by which one can express Beethoven’s thought, that the utmost we can do here is to refer the reader, as before, to the articles on Sonata Forms, Harmony, Instrumentation, Opera and Music, where he will find further attempts to indicate in what sense pure music can be described as dramatic and expressive of emotion.
As our range of investigation widens, and thoroughness of analysis and study increases, so we shall surely find in ourselves an ever-deepening conviction that Beethoven, whether in range, depth and truth of thought, perfect sense of beauty, or absolute conscientiousness of execution, is the greatest musician, perhaps the greatest artist, that ever lived. There is no means of measuring Beethoven’s influence upon subsequent music. Every composer of every school claims it. The immense changes he brought about in the range of music have their most obvious effect in the possibilities of emotional expression; and so any outbreak of vulgarity or sentimentality can with impunity claim descent from Beethoven, though its ancestry may be no higher than Meyerbeer. Again, we have already referred to that confusion of thought which regards a series of works markedly different in form as containing less form than any number of works cast in one mould. Hence the works of Beethoven’s third period have been cited in defence of more than one “revolution,” attempted in a form which never existed in any true classic, for the purpose of setting up something the revolutionist has not yet succeeded in inventing. To measure Beethoven’s influence is like measuring Shakespeare’s. It is an influence either too vaguely universal to name or too profoundly artistic to analyse. Perhaps the truest account of it would be that which ignored its presence in the works of ill-balanced artists, or even in the works of those who profited merely by an increase of technical and harmonic resource which, though effected by Beethoven, would, after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, almost certainly have to some extent arisen from sheer necessity of finding expression for the new experience of humanity, if Beethoven had never existed. Setting aside, then, all instances of mere domination, and of a permanently established new world of musical thought, and omitting Schubert and Weber as contemporaries, the one attracted and the other partly repelled, we may, perhaps, take three later composers, Schumann, Wagner and Brahms, as the leading examples of the way in which Beethoven’s influence is definitely traceable as a creative force. The depth and solemnity of Beethoven’s melody and later polyphonic richness is a leading source of Schumann’s inspiration, though Schumann’s artistic schemes exclude any high degree of formal organization on a large scale. Beethoven’s late polyphony is carried on by Brahms to the point at which perfect smoothness of style is once more possible, and there is no aspect of his form which Brahms neglects or fails to realize with that complete originality which has nothing to fear from its ancestry. Wagner does not handle the same art-forms; his task is different, but Beethoven was the inspiring source, not only of his purely musical sense, but also of his whole sense of dramatic contrast and fitness. When he had shaken off the influence of Meyerbeer, which has so often been confused with that of Beethoven, there remained to him, pre-eminently in his music and more imperfectly realized in his drama, a power of combining contrasted emotions such as is the privilege of only the very greatest dramatic artists. Bach and Beethoven are the sources of the polyphonic means of expression by which he attains this. Beethoven alone is the extraneous source of his knowledge that it was possible. And it is as certain as anything in the history of art that there will never be a time when Beethoven’s work does not occupy the central place in a sound musical mind.
Annotated List of Beethoven’s Works
Up to 1823 we give in most cases the dates of publication, the date of composition being generally from one to three years earlier. Beethoven seldom had less than a dozen projects in hand at once, and their immediate chronology is inextricable; whereas publication generally means final revision. This list is purposely incomplete in order that unimportant works may not distract attention, even when they are late and on a large scale.
- Sonata = Pianoforte sonata.
Violin or violoncello sonata = for pianoforte, V. or Vc.
Pianoforte trio = Pfte., V., Vc.
Pianoforte quartet = Pfte., V., viola and Vc.
String trio = V., Va., Vc.
String quartet = VV., Va. and Vc.
Pianoforte or violin concerto = Concerto with orchestra.
- Sonata = Pianoforte sonata.
- 1785. 3 pfte. quartets, of which the third contains important material for the sonatas, op. 2, Nos. 1 and 3.
- (Thayer’s attribution of the masterly bagatelles, op. 33, published 1803, to this period can only be rationalized by some similar rough first idea.)
- 1790. 24 variations on an air by Righini (published 1801). A very remarkable work, anticipating Schumann’s Papillons in its humorous close. It was Beethoven’s chief early tour-de-force in pianoforte playing.
- 1795. 3 pfte. trios, op. 1 (E♭, G, C minor).
- 1796. 3 pfte. sonatas, op. 2 (F minor, A and C, dedicated to Haydn).
- 1797. String trio, op. 3, 2 violoncello sonatas, op. 5, F and G mi., sonata, op. 7, E♭.
- 1798. 3 string trios, op. 9; G, D, C mi., 3 sonatas, op. 10 (C mi., F, D). Trio for pfte., clarinet and violoncello in B♭, op. 11.
- 1799. 3 violin sonatas (D, A, E♭), op. 12. Pfte. sonata (Pathétique not Beethoven’s title) C mi., op. 13, 2 pfte. sonatas, op. 14, E, G (the first arranged by the composer as a string quartet in F).
- 1801. Pianoforte concertos, op. 15 in C, op. 19 in B♭ (the latter composed first). Quintet for pianoforte and wind instruments, op. 16 (also arranged, with new details, as quartet for pianoforte and strings), composed 1797. 6 string quartets, op. 18 (F, G, D, C mi., A, B♭). 1st symphony (C), op. 21. 2 violin sonatas, A mi., op. 23; F ma., op. 24 (made into two opus-numbers by an accident in the format of the volumes).
- 1802. Pianoforte score of the Prometheus ballet, op. 24 (ousted by the F ma. violin sonata, and reissued as op. 43). Sonata in B♭, op. 22. Sonata in A♭, op. 26 (with the funeral march). 2 sonatas (“quasi fantasia”), op. 27, E♭, C♯ mi. Sonata in D, op. 28 (Pastorale not Beethoven’s title). String quintet in C, op. 29.
- 1803. 3 violin sonatas, op. 30 (A, C mi., G). 3 sonatas, op. 31, G, D mi., E♭ (the last appearing in 1804).
- Variations, op. 34. 15 variations and fugue on theme from Prometheus, op. 35.
- 1804. 2nd symphony (D), op. 36 (1802). 3rd pfte. concerto (C mi.), op. 37 (1800).
- 1805. The “Kreutzer” sonata, op. 47, for pfte. and violin (A) (finale at first intended for op. 30, No. 1).
- “Waldstein” sonata for pfte., op. 53 (C). First version of opera Leonore in three acts (with overture “No. 2”).
- 1806. Sonata in F, op. 54. Eroica Symphony, No. 3, op. 55 (E♭), written in 1804 in honour of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was just finished when news arrived that Napoleon had made himself emperor, and Beethoven was with difficulty restrained from destroying the score. It is still the longest extant perfect design in instrumental music. The finale glorifies the material (and much of the form) of the variations, op. 35. The scherzo is the first full-sized example of Beethoven’s special type.
- Leonore reproduced in two acts with overture No. 3. 32 variations in C mi. (no opus-number, but a very important work on the lines of a modernized chaconne).
- 1807. Triple concerto (pfte., V. and Vc.), op. 56, chiefly interesting as a study for the true concerto-form which had given Beethoven difficulty. Sonata, op. 57 (F mi., Appassionata, not Beethoven’s title). New overture, Leonore, “No. 1,” composed for projected performance of the opera at Prague (posthumously published as op. 138).
- 1808. 4th pfte. concerto, op. 58 (G). 3 string quartets, op. 59, F, E mi., C (dedicated to Count Rasoumovsky, in compliment to whom Russian tunes appear in the finale of No. 1 and the scherzo of No. 2). Overture to Coriolanus, op. 62.
- 1809. 4th symphony, op. 60 (B♭). Violin concerto (D), op. 61 (also arranged by the composer for pianoforte). 5th symphony, op. 67 (C mi.) (1806), the first in which trombones appear. 6th symphony (Pastorale), op. 68; violoncello sonata, op. 69 (A). 2 pianoforte trios, op. 70 (D, E♭).
- 1810. Pianoforte score of Leonore (2nd version) published. String quartet, op. 74 (E♭, called “Harp” because of pizzicato passages in first movement). Fantasia, op. 77, interesting as consisting of a long and capricious series of dramatic beginnings and breakings off of themes, as if in search for a firm idea, which is at last found and developed as a set of variations. This scheme thus foreshadows the choral finale of the 9th symphony even more significantly than the Choral Fantasia.
- Sonata, op. 78, F♯ (extremely terse and subtle, and a great favourite with Beethoven, who preferred it to the C♯mi.).