Public Lecture Demonstration: Beethoven and his Sketchbook

Beethoven - Autograph score of Sonata Op.109. Used by permission of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC

An informal lecture and music demonstration led by Jonathan Dawe, composer and Dr Robert Taub, pianist and Music Director at The Arts Institute.

Even though Beethoven changed his place of residence twenty-four times after his initial move to Vienna (not counting the thirty-nine different summer residences he occupied), most of the original pages of sketches that he carried with him to Vienna in 1792 were within his reach when he died. Many of these sketches have survived; we can view them today.

Beethoven often composed multiple works simultaneously. He used sketchbooks, both desk sketchbooks and pocket sketchbooks, to keep track of his ideas and to work on them frequently over a period of years. These sketchbooks - meant for his own eyes only - along with his autograph scores (copies of works in his own musical hand that he sent to publishers) provide insight into his creative processes. What were Beethoven’s primary creative motivations? How did a work evolve in structure and form? What changes did he make along the way? How did he advance the state of the art? And what can we bring to performing, sharing, and understanding these works by learning more about how and why Beethoven wrote them?

In this public Lecture Demonstration, composer Jonathan Dawe and pianist Dr Robert Taub discussed and illustrated ways in which Beethoven created his music by highlighting and playing specific Beethoven sketches and areas of creative evolution within his autograph scores, with a focus upon specific musical implications for us as interpreters and listeners. In addition, Jonathan discussed his composition for String Quartet that was performed in our concluding concert on 2 October, a new work that draws from Beethoven’s own sketches for his String Quartet Op.135.

Venue: Upper Theatre, Sherwell Centre, University of Plymouth
Date: Thursday 30 September 2021
Time: 19:30 – 20:45


More from Beethoven: Innovator – a 250th celebration

This public lecture demonstration was the first of four events, comprising the Beethoven: Innovator festival, 30 September - 2 October 2021.

The inspiring three-day festival explored some of Beethoven's most innovative works with host Dr Robert Taub, Music Director, The Arts Institute.

Discover more about previous events

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven