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Not heard since 1792--Until now


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Sound Not Heard Since 1792--Until Now

By Cathryn Conroy, CompuServe News Editor

In the 1960s, musicologists found something in the papers of Ludwig van Beethoven that puzzled them: a sketch of a single movement from an oboe concerto they had never before heard. What makes this mystery even more tantalizing is that this is the only oboe concerto Beethoven ever composed. The Associated Press reports that two Beethoven enthusiasts from The Netherlands have pieced together the musical clues, put them into 18th-century orchestral context, and reconstructed the second movement with full orchestration. It was performed in what was billed as a "world premiere" on Saturday night in Rotterdam by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

We say "world premiere" in quotes because the Oboe Concerto in F Major was performed at least once before some 210 years ago. "Premieres happen all the time. But a Beethoven piece that's never been heard?" Conrad van Alphen, conductor of the Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra, said to AP. "To have a Beethoven premiere is really special." The piece--called the Largo movement--was just eight minutes long and was played without fanfare as part of a larger concert that featured works by Mozart and Bach.

AP reports that the movement was written in 1792 when Beethoven was 22 years old, which was still several years before he officially announced himself as a composer with his Opus No. 1. This oboe concerto was written as an exercise when he was still very much influenced by Mozart and his teacher, Franz Josef Haydn. The only known copy of the concerto disappeared in the 1840s from a Vienna publishing house, but its existence was confirmed in 1935 when researchers found letters written by Haydn and Beethoven's sponsor.


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