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View Full Version : Beethoven's 5th the finest 'romantic' concerto?


Serge
10-19-2000, 06:13 AM
While Beethoven's fifth piano concerto is composed in the classical style, it is very romantic in nature, at least to me. I was curious if anyone thinks that it is the best example of 'romantic' concerto in the repertoire. Other than the Schumann concerto and the two Chopins and the Liszts, there isn't very much out there that I'm aware of to choose from. As far as I'm concerned, the Beethoven is the finest example, followed very closely by the Schumann. Any thoughts?...

Peter
10-19-2000, 11:01 AM
When it comes to your Romantic Concerto list Serge, there are several major ones you left out - Brahms 1&2, Tchaikovsky 1-3, Grieg,Mendelssohn 1&2, Rachmaninov 1-5 and I could go on !! but this is really about the Beethoven 5th. To me the 'Emperor' Concerto marks the culmination of Beethoven's 'Heroic' style - it is typical of his middle period works and it is Classical !! Examples of so-called 'romantic' sounding music can be found in Mozart (slow movement of piano concerto no.21),Bach and earlier - but they are not Romantic with a capital R - The Romantics learnt more from Beethoven's first period works than his later ones (which were misunderstood well into the 20th century) - the Romantic movement as a whole didnot really come through Beethoven, but rather from Weber, Hummel, Schubert and Bach. Beethoven actually becomes more classical and even Baroque in his later works, and this development was not really picked up until the 20th century when the Romantic movement was at an end.
Having said all that - I do agree that the 5th is probably the finest Piano Concerto written and what really matters is as you say - how it feels for you and what it means to you rather than unhelpful labels such as 'Romantic' or 'Classical'.

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 10-19-2000).]

Rod
10-19-2000, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by Serge:
While Beethoven's fifth piano concerto is composed in the classical style, it is very romantic in nature, at least to me. I was curious if anyone thinks that it is the best example of 'romantic' concerto in the repertoire. Other than the Schumann concerto and the two Chopins and the Liszts, there isn't very much out there that I'm aware of to choose from. As far as I'm concerned, the Beethoven is the finest example, followed very closely by the Schumann. Any thoughts?...

I don't believe Beethoven wrote any music in the Romantic mentality, B was always a man of the Enlightenment era and this is apparent in any work of his you could pick at random. Hence I always group B with the earlier composers that influenced him rather than those that came after, who wrote music from a much different standpoint psychologically.

The 5th concerto I'm sure served as a model for many a subsequent third rate effort and is often played today in a very Romantic style, however if you were fortunate enought to hear the piece played on a piano from circa 1810/15 with an appropriately equipped orchestra playing in the style of the time, well, you might have a different impression of the piece!

If you have heard some of Weber's music from this time, then you will find the true Romantic sound in embryo. But don't go looking for it in Beethoven's output. B's 'subjective' dramatic style was not too different from that of Handel 100 years earlier, but who calls Handel a Romantic?

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Serge
10-23-2000, 03:25 AM
Thanks for your responses; this is a LOT of food for thought, esp. when I look back on the Weber and start seeing those influences you mention...
I also appreciate those other pieces that I'd completely overlooked; esp. the Tchaikovsky (!), which admittedly gives the B. a run for its money. I always thought Mendelssohn was considered a "Classicist", tho... oh well, like you said, such terms are restrictive and essentially unhelpful. This is good to know.

Peter
10-23-2000, 12:00 PM
Mendelssohn is usually classed as an early Romantic - definitely not Classical - He was however considered to be a very conservative and traditional composer. I'm not sure about the Tchaikovsy giving the 'Emperor' a run for its money. If I had to list the really great piano concertos in order, I'd place Beethoven's 5th and 4th at the top, closely followed by the Mozart C minor ,then another half-dozen or so by Mozart.Next would come Beethoven no.3.Then I'd place Brahms 1&2 followed by the Schumann.Then would come the Tchaikovsy and possibly Liszt's 'Totentanz' which is a concerto in all but name and certainly much finer than his other 2 efforts.

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 10-23-2000).]

Rod
10-23-2000, 01:27 PM
Originally posted by Serge:
Thanks for your responses; this is a LOT of food for thought, esp. when I look back on the Weber and start seeing those influences you mention...
I also appreciate those other pieces that I'd completely overlooked; esp. the Tchaikovsky (!), which admittedly gives the B. a run for its money. I always thought Mendelssohn was considered a "Classicist", tho... oh well, like you said, such terms are restrictive and essentially unhelpful. This is good to know.

Personally, I don't think Tchaikovsky is even remotely in Beethovens league!

Also personally, after Beethovens concertos, I consider only Handel's (op3,4,6,7) are up to this standard of good strucural balance, intelligence and invention, yet still being accessible. But these are not quite the same genre of music, I could accept. I rate B's 3rd above all of Mozart's efforts.

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
10-23-2000, 01:54 PM
Originally posted by Rod:


I rate B's 3rd above all of Mozart's efforts.

Rod




I doubt that Beethoven would have agreed with you.Beethoven was known to have admired The Mozart C minor concerto - remarking to Cramer 'We shall never be able to do anything like that'



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'Man know thyself'

Chris
10-23-2000, 03:06 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
Personally, I don't think Tchaikovsky is even remotely in Beethovens league!

Rod



Perhpas not, but you have to admit that the 1ts piano concerto (not to mention the violin concerto) is excellent. Well...I guess you don't have to admit it (and you never will), but they ARE good!

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
10-23-2000, 03:38 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
I doubt that Beethoven would have agreed with you.Beethoven was known to have admired The Mozart C minor concerto - remarking to Cramer 'We shall never be able to do anything like that'



This was a (typically) humble remark from Beethoven towards M, but correct in that he produced nothing like it, but, instead, produced things much better, as you yourself admit: 'I'd place Beethoven's 5th and 4th at the top'!!. I would include the 3rd also.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Rod
10-23-2000, 03:40 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Perhpas not, but you have to admit that the 1ts piano concerto (not to mention the violin concerto) is excellent. Well...I guess you don't have to admit it (and you never will), but they ARE good!



I refer the honourable gentleman to my earlier remark!

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
10-23-2000, 08:52 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
This was a (typically) humble remark from Beethoven towards M, but correct in that he produced nothing like it, but, instead, produced things much better, as you yourself admit: 'I'd place Beethoven's 5th and 4th at the top'!!. I would include the 3rd also.

Rod



Well I'm not so sure about Beethoven being typically humble !
I do not regard Mozart's Piano Concertos (especially the really great ones) as being in any way inferior to Beethoven's - The 3rd is a fine work, but not as great as 4 and 5. I must admit that I find your antipathy towards Mozart puzzling - that you prefer Beethoven is one thing (and he certainly has the edge as far as I'm concerned) but not to credit Mozart's achievement is rather strange.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
10-24-2000, 01:09 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Well I'm not so sure about Beethoven being typically humble !
I do not regard Mozart's Piano Concertos (especially the really great ones) as being in any way inferior to Beethoven's - The 3rd is a fine work, but not as great as 4 and 5. I must admit that I find your antipathy towards Mozart puzzling - that you prefer Beethoven is one thing (and he certainly has the edge as far as I'm concerned) but not to credit Mozart's achievement is rather strange.



B was always humble with regard to Mozart, even after he recognised Handel's superiority. With respect, the remark I quoted from you somewhat contradicts your current statement regarding the respective quality of the two composers efforts. I do not discredit M's achievements, but a lot of his concertos are rather rambling efforts from what I've heard.


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
10-24-2000, 08:27 PM
I don't think there is any contradiction in my remarks - Firstly I said I would place B's 5th & 4th (Some people prefer the 4th to the 5th) at the top CLOSELY followed by a half dozen or so of Mozart's concertos - that is obviously a personal choice. Perhaps I should go further and say that K.491 and K.503 rank alongside with Op.73 and Op.58 as the greatest piano concertos ever written.
Beethoven was right in his estimation of Mozart, and that he came later to regard Handel as greater in no way diminishes Mozart.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
10-25-2000, 03:34 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

I don't think there is any contradiction in my remarks - Firstly I said I would place B's 5th & 4th (Some people prefer the 4th to the 5th) at the top CLOSELY followed by a half dozen or so of Mozart's concertos - that is obviously a personal choice. Perhaps I should go further and say that K.491 and K.503 rank alongside with Op.73 and Op.58 as the greatest piano concertos ever written.
Beethoven was right in his estimation of Mozart, and that he came later to regard Handel as greater in no way diminishes Mozart.



OK, I think I've pushed this semantics argument far enough. You rate M on a par with B re concertos. If I thought you were talking about fortepianos I would have more sympathy with your position (as you know my position re M and Steinways). But I regard B as simply a more advanced pianist stylistically. Whereas pianists after B offer no advance over B's output, in fact the contrary is the case.

With Handel I suppose the debate would be re his and Bach's concerti grossi. Of which I would say the latter's are on occasion a little too fussy for my taste (I prefer H's more simple style). But that's another issue.

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
10-25-2000, 08:09 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
You rate M on a par with B re concertos. If I thought you were talking about fortepianos I would have more sympathy with your position (as you know my position re M and Steinways). But I regard B as simply a more advanced pianist stylistically. Whereas pianists after B offer no advance over B's output, in fact the contrary is the case.


Rod





I'm not talking about pianofortes or fortepianos or modern v's authentic here at all - simply the notes written down on the manuscript ! So hopefully you do have more sympathy with my view - I actually have more with yours re. the fortepiano argument having been listening to the Mozart Concertos with your comments in mind .I don't agree that pianisitically there is no advance after Beethoven or as you say the opposite.
Yes Beethoven's piano music is more technically advanced than Mozart's, but so is Liszt's more than Beethoven, and Bartok more than Liszt - it doesn't make it better though. Your argument for Fortepianos is also my defence, because the stylistic advances you refer to in Beethoven are in direct relation to the advances in the instrument itself - Mozart cannot be blamed for not writing for an instrument that did not exist !

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
10-26-2000, 12:35 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

I'm not talking about pianofortes or fortepianos or modern v's authentic here at all - simply the notes written down on the manuscript ! So hopefully you do have more sympathy with my view - I actually have more with yours re. the fortepiano argument having been listening to the Mozart Concertos with your comments in mind .I don't agree that pianisitically there is no advance after Beethoven or as you say the opposite.
Yes Beethoven's piano music is more technically advanced than Mozart's, but so is Liszt's more than Beethoven, and Bartok more than Liszt - it doesn't make it better though. Your argument for Fortepianos is also my defence, because the stylistic advances you refer to in Beethoven are in direct relation to the advances in the instrument itself - Mozart cannot be blamed for not writing for an instrument that did not exist !



I chose my words with care in my last post - I said B was 'stylistically' superior, as opposed to 'technically' or whatever. With this in mind I stand by my words - Beethoven wrote the finest quality piano music in the largest quantity. If I thought otherwise I wouldn't be here.

Regarding the fortepiano, B used virtually the same 5 octave instrument as M for all of his early period compositions. It wasn't until after 1800 that the instrument started to develop. I think (but could be wrong) they can all be played up until the Waldstein (by which time B was now influenced by the new extended keyboards as possessed by his Erard piano) using such instruments. Think about the volume of quality music this entails (more if one includes the chamber music). I don't think Rachmanillow or Mozart could come up with such good musical invention used in such disciplined and self critical a manner, regardless of how many notes are on paper or how difficult they are to play.

I just believe B was more of a natural piano writer than M, perhaps just because he was the product of a marginally later age and nothing more (and yes, assisted somewhat via M himself), but I stand by these words. If others differ I can live with it.

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
10-26-2000, 07:43 PM
I agree with much of what you say - When it comes to the piano, yes Beethoven is overall a superior and more consistent composer than Mozart - however it does not alter the fact that there are out of the 19 odd Sonatas ,5 that are great works, and out of the 27 Concertos around 12.
Mozart had been brought up with the Harpsichord, but you have to remember that he was probably one of the first great composers to actually write for the piano - and his concertos certainly provided a model for Beethoven.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
10-26-2000, 07:57 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
I agree with much of what you say - When it comes to the piano, yes Beethoven is overall a superior and more consistent composer than Mozart - however it does not alter the fact that there are out of the 19 odd Sonatas ,5 that are great works, and out of the 27 Concertos around 12.
Mozart had been brought up with the Harpsichord, but you have to remember that he was probably one of the first great composers to actually write for the piano - and his concertos certainly provided a model for Beethoven.



All fair enough. I am not trying to deny M his dues, but I was searching for an absolute position, one whereby when all things are considered a 'winner' is selected, by whom all others are thus to be judged. For some the task is less complex than for others, but B himself partook of such games, and why not.

Rod



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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

BobLombard
10-26-2000, 09:36 PM
I think your comparisons between Mozart and Beethoven are the result of too much education. Irregardless of how much Beethoven respected Mozart and was influenced by him, even borrowed from him, Beethoven's piano sonatas don't *sound* like Mozart's. Even B's 1st two piano concertos don't sound like anything composed by Mozart. The closest to 'similarity' I can think of is Mozart's K.475 fantasia to early Beethoven. What else is there (not on paper, but in the ear)?

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AKA "The Hill Troll"

Peter
10-27-2000, 12:21 AM
I don't know what you mean by too much education - surely you can only form an opinion if you are familiar with the two composers' works - as you obviously are ! and I agree with you, they don't sound anything like each other - but that was not my point. I am simply saying that Beethoven (though in my opinion, the greatest composer of all) was not the only composer to write 'Great ' works - I simply do not see it as a competition.

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'Man know thyself'

BobLombard
10-27-2000, 06:28 AM
By 'too much education' I mean comparing scores. An accomplished reader of multi-staff music notation (which I am not) can doubtless see similar patterns. Maybe that's where the Handel relationship comes in too? Although I just remembered that, in the 3rd mvt of Op. 132, B goes Baroque so obviously that even I notice.

On the 'sounds like' matter, Mozart's K.397 fantasia is the one I actually was thinking of. I first heard it unidentified, and thought it was a Beethoven work, maybe a WoO.

Chris
10-27-2000, 08:10 AM
Hm. I can see where you might get that idea, actually.

Peter
10-27-2000, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by BobLombard:
Although I just remembered that, in the 3rd mvt of Op. 132, B goes Baroque so obviously that even I notice.



I'd say B goes beyond the Baroque even in this movement - back to Palestrina with its modal qualities.

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'Man know thyself'