[Smt-talk] Finding a Beethoven anecdote

kos at panix.com kos at panix.com
Mon Oct 7 04:23:27 PDT 2013

On Mon, 7 Oct 2013, Timothy Cutler <timothy.cutler at cim.edu> asked:

> I stumbled across the following passage in Ferguson's *A History of Musical
> Thought*:
> [Beethoven] would not accept even the simplest rules of harmony until he
> had satisfied himself of their reasonableness. In his notebooks appears one
> single theorem of harmony worked out seventeen times to disprove an
> accepted rule; and at the end the unflattering comment on the authority who
> had propounded the rule, “*Du Esel!”*

> Does anyone know to what rule Ferguson is referring, who is the
> "authority," and if this material is published?

If I'm not mistaken, Ferguson was writing in 1940.  I've not done the research, 
but unless he studied the sketches themselves, there were not many sources 
around which Ferguson could have consulted.  There's Nottebohm, Paul Mies book 
on Beethoven Sketches; and earlier is Ignaz von Seyfried's 1832 "Beethoven's 
Studies in Composition."  There were a sprinkling of articles based more on 
Mies than any first-hand knowledge that appeared as reviews (I know Hanns Eisler 
wrote such an article).

Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
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