Beethoven's Folksong Settings: Chronology, Sources, Style

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Clarendon Press, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 270 pages
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Beethoven composed far more folksong settings than any other type of composition. Most are British songs, including Auld Lang Syne and the The Miller of Dee, with text by such authors as Burns, Byron and Scott. Yet Beethoven's settings, commissioned by George Thomson of Edinburgh, have beenneglected by performers and scholars alike, and nearly all accounts of them are both superficial and startlingly inaccurate. This book is based on a very elablorate study of a wide range of sources, and dispels the many myths that have been circulating about this music. Every one of the 179settings is dated to within a few weeks and an account is given of the souces of the melodies and texts, the difficulties of sending the music across Europe during the Napoleonic Wars (smugglers were even called upon to assist!), the fees Beethoven received, and when and how the texts were added.By comparing Beethoven's settings with those of his predecessors Pleyel, Haydhn and Kozeluch, the author demonstrates that Beethoven comprehensively transcended the bounds of convention, producing settings of extra-ordinary quality and originality. Suggestions are also made for overcoming theproblems of presenting these songs in performance.

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About the author (1994)

Barry Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Music, Manchester University.

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