This is Part 1 in my series of articles in which I will describe, from beginning to end, the creation of my reconstruction of the unfinished Sixth Piano Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven.
There was music in the royal Lobkowitz palace on the 13th of January 1811. The evening began with an overture by Righini to be followed by an “exceptionally heavy, but artistic new concerto from Mr van Beethoven”. This citation from Nepomuk Chotek describes the music now known as the famous Fifth Piano concerto in E flat Major Opus 73 dates 1808/09. This was the evening of its world premiere.
The pianist playing that evening was archduke E.H. Rudolph. Beethoven conducted the piece. On November 28th that same year, this piece was performed in Leipzig by the pianist Friedrich Schneider. Somewhat later, on February 12th 1812, the official public performance took place in Vienna in the Wiener Kärntnertortheater and was played by his student Carl Czerny.
This work, that is difficult to play, was quite often performed during this period. This is perhaps the reason why the composer started to write a new concerto. In the first few months of 1815 Beethoven wrote the draft of his new composition. He was uncertain what form this concerto would take. We know that Beethoven had many fresh ideas in this period. Before this, he had written a concerto for piano with choir and a soloist (the Choral Fantasy in C minor, Opus 80 dated 1808) and he had further plans for an Overture with choir. At the same time he was also playing with the idea of giving his new concerto a new format. For example: he had thoughts on a concerto overture for piano or even a four part piano concerto.
We will never really know exactly what Beethoven planned for this concerto because all that remains are 256 bars of the first part and 114 pages of sketches and preliminary studies.
These sketches and the score (where each part is written under each other for the soloist and orchestra) are so interesting and extensive that I decided to reconstruct the Sixth Piano Concerto from Ludwig van Beethoven.
To be continued in Part 2.