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Thread: Did Beethoven compose Haydn's oboe concerto?

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Exclamation Did Beethoven compose Haydn's oboe concerto?

    Nobody's entirely sure who composed the oboe concerto long attributed to Joseph Haydn and a little hypothesis of mine is that it was composed by the baby faced Ludwig under the guidance of his teacher Herr Haydn. There are certain Beethovenian features (use of accented diminished 7th arpeggios and theme and variation last movement for example) and the work seems a little ameteurish (use of arpeggio and big leaps isn't very oboesque and is more a characteristic of clarinet music - there is also a cadence that is identical to one in Mozart's clarinet concerto) for Haydn, a composer of unparalleled experience.

    opinions on the theory?
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Though I am completely a non-scholar and merely a fan, it seems to me on listening to a lot of Beethoven and a little Haydn that Beethoven took more from Haydn then he let on. Beethoven is more Haydnesque (if I can mix root languages) than than he is Mozartian to me. So it seems reasonable that he might have gotten some of his musical gestures from Haydn.

    I have not heard this oboe concerto that I remember, so I will go look for it. This sort of thing is so interesting.

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    Senior Member SPR's Avatar
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    Very Interesting. I need to give that another listen...

    Haydn was not afraid to be very lighthearted and playful in his work - seemingly simplistic... so 'ameteurish' could be decieving in that context. On the other hand, Beethovens early work very much showed an exceedingly strong grasp of Mozart and Haydn musical textures and was heavily reflective of them.

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    Beethoven's minimal sketches for an oboe concerto in F have turned attention away from the impressive and powerful Oboe Concerto in C attributed to Haydn. But, as with sketches for an unwritten early symphony in C minor, there is no proof that Beethoven's oboe concerto was in F.

    The music itself gives the strongest indications that Beethoven wrote the attrib-Haydn work, about 1788-90. My unpublished paper cannot conclusively settle the issue, but the clear links to Mozart works, and to many of Beethoven's important early-mid period works are obvious, yet overlooked. I'm happy to provide a copy (it's written in easy layman's language) to anyone interested, no charge. Hopefully it will generate some long-overdue interest, and even lead to the discovery of the lost score of the Oboe Concerto in C.

    Warwick Pryce
    E-mail address: w.g.pryce@xtra.co.nz

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Am I to understand that I'm not the first person to have made the aforementioned assertion?

    Yes, I would be very interested in reading your essay.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Suggestions that the attrib-Haydn Oboe Concerto in C might be Beethoven's seemingly started about 1960 (see "The Gramaphone Oct '60, p214). And Haydn scholar, H C R Landon asserted Haydn wasn't the composer, that evidence being slight compared with what tells us that Beethoven was. In 1974 I gave a short talk on radio suggesting early Beethoven, but nothing eventuated and I let it lapse. When experts in The Netherlands recently "created" part of a so-called Beethoven Oboe Concerto in F from sketches, I rewrote my full essay and sent a copy to someone associated with these experts. But after a year, no acknowlegement has come back in spite of a reminder. I suppose that people clinging to a desperate hope (the nebulous F major work) won't want the C major concerto troubling them. Haydn had Beethoven's concerto in his hands in 1793. Did he send just the score to the Elector in Bonn, who when returning the bundle of young Beethoven's music imagined the parts HAD been sent, thus retaining score till said parts were located? Such is suggested by the C maj work surfacing in Haydn's works as parts-without-score. Has anyone bothered to search all the archives, relics, etc across Europe of Elector, Maximilian Francis to locate the lost score bearing its composer's name? Such a search is well beyond my capabilities.

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Very, very interesting. I came to the same conclusion completely independently due to the plethora of Beethovenian traits exhibited in the concerto. I think I'll devote some study to this next year, at university.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    In nearly 50 years since I became interested, little has been achieved to try and settle the question. The wonderful work remains an orphan, while the Beethoven concerto remains hidden. Personal opinion still rules -- some say the Oboe Concerto in C is indeed by Haydn, many others say, definitely not Beethoven, and nobody seems able to offer much reason other than instinct, gut feeling, even prejudice. I couldn't persuade anyone to take seriously what is a simple possibility. It is difficult for persons of high standing to concede they missed noticing the straightforward indications found in the work. A most fascinating question is, what Mozart works did Beethoven hear, and even play during his short stay in Vienna in April 1787? The oboe concerto, if it IS by him, may hold the answer.

    Another challenging suggestion is for an expert examination to be done of the style of music writing of the original parts, whichever they are, and the style in say, the score of the unfinished Violin Concerto in C. Back about 1790 Beethoven could well have been writing parts himself (with a copyist duplicating string parts). There must be possibilities that haven't yet been explored. One thing is certain -- a whole lotta talk aint gonna do nothin!

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    Senior Member Saturnus's Avatar
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    I played this concerto in a competition at my college and one of the jurist thought he heard a theme from a Beethoven song ("lied") in the concerto (the 1st movement). Also, my accompanist (exceptionally skilled and educated professional pianist) said after our first rehearsal "This is not Haydn". Neither the jurist nor the accompanist had heard the piece before so it was only their gut feeling I guess.
    Beethoven wrote a little known sonata for anglohorn and piano early in his career, it would be interesting to check it for any similarities with the concerto, I haven't been able to find any recordings or sheets though.

    @Bach, it's simply false that big leaps and arpeggios aren't oboesque, just listen to Rosetti's concerto in C and Mozart's oboe quartet or concerto. In later chamber repertoire they're also all over the place. I can understand your assumption though, since the oboe's role in orchestras doesn't really represent this.

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    I am an oboist. Clarinets are better at jumps. Fact.

    Mozart's concerto isn't particularly jumpy. I've performed it.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    I am an oboist. Clarinets are better at jumps. Fact.

    Mozart's concerto isn't particularly jumpy. I've performed it.
    I didn't know you played oboe, Bach. That's awesome. Have you ever played R. Strauss' "Oboe Concerto"? Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" will also give you a workout on oboe.

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    Senior Member Saturnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    I am an oboist. Clarinets are better at jumps. Fact.

    Mozart's concerto isn't particularly jumpy. I've performed it.
    I was talking about Mozart's quartet.
    About clarinets being better at jumps: I think clarinets are only better at jumps because most clarinetists get more training at them going through the orchestral repertoire. But in many conservatoires and music colleges the Telemann flute Fantasias are standard pieces every oboe student has to go through, and you can't really pass through them without becoming adept at jumps. Overall the clarinet seems better in every aspect concerning technique, I believe that's only because there's a lot more competition between clarinetists, and because of oboe reedmaking clarinetists have more time to spend on their finger-training.
    But nevertheless this discussion is irrelevant since soloists and their strengths can differ greatly, and we this concerto was most likely composed for a particular soloist but not for general publication.

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    Senior Member wolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    Nobody's entirely sure who composed the oboe concerto long attributed to Joseph Haydn and a little hypothesis of mine is that it was composed by the baby faced Ludwig....opinions on the theory?
    This interesting thread unfortunately died, perhaps because the mysterious 'W Pryce' surfaced, ahum, lol...

    Nevertheless, this is something totally different than the crazy theories about Luchesi, there IS something 'un-Haydnesque' about this work...

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    Thanks Wolf for the best laugh I've had for a long time! ME mysterious?
    Hey, I joined this supposed debate because of the narrow focus of the title, "Did BEETHOVEN compose Haydn's Oboe Concerto?" (I'd prefer it to say attrib. Haydn). Having seriously studied the issue for a long time, I believe I have something tangible to contribute. My 1st post has my e-mail address, and sincere offer to send to anyone a copy of my paper containing details of links to Beethoven works. So far nobody has sent for it. I'll go further and assure all that I'll keep their real identities and whereabouts secret. My only interest is in solving the mystery of whether Beethoven is the composer. If any of you actually desire to see this remarkable orphaned work reuited with its true parent, then simply get acquainted with the substantial aspects that almost prove who that parent was.
    However, if the purpose of this forum is just to generate endless talk about a mystery that participants would rather see left unsolved, then I'll quietly unsubscribe and disappear as mysteriouly as I supposedly surfaced. Thanks again, Wolf -- I'm still chuckling!
    Perhaps I should publish the paper on the web, with free download offer.
    Warwick Pryce

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W Pryce View Post
    Beethoven's minimal sketches for an oboe concerto in F have turned attention away from the impressive and powerful Oboe Concerto in C attributed to Haydn. But, as with sketches for an unwritten early symphony in C minor, there is no proof that Beethoven's oboe concerto was in F.

    The music itself gives the strongest indications that Beethoven wrote the attrib-Haydn work, about 1788-90. My unpublished paper cannot conclusively settle the issue, but the clear links to Mozart works, and to many of Beethoven's important early-mid period works are obvious, yet overlooked. I'm happy to provide a copy (it's written in easy layman's language) to anyone interested, no charge. Hopefully it will generate some long-overdue interest, and even lead to the discovery of the lost score of the Oboe Concerto in C.

    Warwick Pryce
    E-mail address: w.g.pryce@xtra.co.nz
    YES, I'm definitely interested! Can you not post it in this thread or email it to me?
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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