The Effect of Beethoven's Original Broadwood Pedal Registrations on the Formal Envelope of Piano Sonata in C, Opus 111

Stephen Husarik, University of Arkansas Fort Smith

Despite pioneering work by Schenker, Drabkin, Kinderman and others few commentators have addressed the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32 in C, Opus 111 in light of the instrument for which it was composed. This presentation is based upon experiences recording the original instrument in Budapest. Specific pedal registrations available on Beethoven's fortepiano no longer exist on modern instruments and as a result the dramatic form of Opus 111 has become obscured by the veil of modern acoustics and criticism.

iThis presentation compares brief recordings of Opus 111 on a modern piano with the composer's original Broadwood instrument, and contemporary fortepianos at Beethoven House (Bonn), the American Beethoven Center (San Jose). Acoustical differences are weighed against formal consequences (also shown in the sketchbooks) to illustrate how historical misgivings have arisen about the form of this work.

Conventional analyses identify the second movement of Opus 111 as an air and doubles or a theme and five variations. However, both the pedal registrations of his Broadwood instrument and the formal manipulations expressed in his sketchbooks show that Beethoven's second movement is divisible into a three-part dramatic envelope known as a "resurrection drama,"where a theme (or character) is presented, nullified and then brought back to life in a final apotheosis. Expressed on the fortepiano as a shift from bell-like to harp-like sounds in variation four, thematic nullification and other coloristic effects are shown to arise from the split-pedal damper available on Beethoven's original instrument. These mechanisms give new insight into how form is rendered in this music.