Hearing complaints these days about the Classical scene being inundated with centennials and bicentennials. Another common complaint is the central place Beethoven is given in the Classical canon. In response to those two complaints I think it’s safe, in 2013, to point out that the opportunities for Beethoven bicentennials over the last 10 years have been largely ignored. Consider all the pivotal works and warhorses that poured from his pen in the early 1800s:
- 1803: Kreutzer Sonata, Waldstein Sonata
- 1804: Fidelio
- 1805: Eroica Symphony
- 1806: Fourth Symphony, Appassionata Sonata, Fourth Piano Concerto, Razoumovsky Quartets, Violin Concerto
- 1807: Coriolan Overture
- 1808: Fifth Symphony, Pastoral Symphony
- 1809: Emperor Concerto, Les Adieux Sonata
- 1810: Egmont Overture
- 1811: Archduke Trio
- 1812: Symphony No. 7, Symphony No. 8
Considering the attention that was paid to the Sacre and Pierrot centennials, it seems a number of well-known Beethoven works were given short shrift – I certainly didn’t hear any fanfares about these bicentennials. And now we have five relatively fallow years before the next wave, when we reach the 200th anniversaries of Beethoven’s late works.
Not that I’m complaining: I’ve had enough of the centennials myself. I’m just pointing out that things could be far worse.
While I’m at it, though, here’s a pet peeve: How can it be that we still don’t have a comprehensive chronological numbering of Beethoven’s completed works? Opus numbers are charming, of course, but relatively meaningless. Who really cares, at this point, in what order the works were published? Wouldn’t it be far more illuminating to name them by the order they were completed? And yes, I know all about the Biamonti catalogue, but that includes every sketch and aborted idea – it’s so cluttered as to be almost as useless from a practical standpoint.
Oh, by the way: happy birthday, Ludwig.