The Double Reed Archaeologist

Chamber Music and Concertos for Oboists and Bassoonists
Charles-David Lehrer, General Editor

Volume III - No. 18b

No. 18b. Ludwig van Beethoven:
Oboe Concerto in F Major, Hess 12:
2nd Movement Reconstruction

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During the last years that Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was in the employ of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne at Bonn, he composed an oboe concerto in F major. We do not know the occasion for which it was written or who was the first soloist. But we do know that it was played at the court in Bonn about 1792; and after the elector sent Beethoven to Vienna for studies with Haydn, Beethoven continued to modify this work. There is ample documentation of this activity from both Haydn and the Elector himself.

Unfortunately, the only parts of this work that remain today are the incipits for each of the three movements, and the entirety of the first draft of the second movement known as the Kafka source. Hopefully the drafts of the outer movements will surface in time, making a complete restoration of the work possible. The fact that the completed score and parts have disappeared is a mystery; but one should not discard the fact that Beethoven may have purposely suppressed this modest concerto. As it comes from the same period as the Octet (composed 1792-93 and published in Vienna in 1830 as Op. 103) the style of the remaining central movement is cast a similar light style, perfectly suited for life at a court before the effects of the French Revolution had been felt.

My reconstruction carries the Kafka source at the top of the score. To be sure, Beethoven is quite up to date insofar as his use of tonal relationships in ritornello-sonata form is concerned. The greatness found in Beethoven's violin concerto and the last three piano concertos is not present here in this early work; but that fact should not detract in any way from the composer's unique contribution to the repertory of the oboist.

For further information on the Beethoven Oboe Concerto, the following article may be consulted: Double Reed of the IDRS: Fall 1982, pp. 36-37. An oboe-piano reduction with full documentation was published in 1983 by Nova Music.

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