Canon, 'Liebe mich, werter Weissenbach', Hess 300 (mp3)
The drafts for this canon can be found amidst the sketches for the Credo of the Missa Solemnis. Although these drafts have been known to Beethoven scholars for more than a century, apparently no attempt has been made to reconstruct the canon before. An interpretation of the notes as written by Beethoven is somewhat difficult, because both clef and key signature are missing. However, all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place if we assume a treble clef and the key of E flat major, a reading which is also totally satisfactory from a musical point of view.
The canon is scattered over four different places in the sketchbook. First we have a single line with the first 4 bars of the melody, and the word "Canon" written above the stave. Several pages later we find three attempts by Beethoven to work out the canon. The first of these is very sketchy, giving very few clues. The two last attempts on the other hand are more or less fully worked out, but differ from one another in detail. Three staves joined together in one system makes clear that Beethoven was working on a 3 in 1 canon (or actually a round, to be annoyingly pedantic). The present reconstruction is the result of combining the best elements from these last two attempts.
And isn't it typical of Beethoven that after begging his friend Weissenbach to love him in the most gentle way for three bars, he commands to be loved every fourth bar?
Liebe mich, liebe mich, werter Weissenbach, teuer Freund, liebe mich! Do love me, do love me, my dear Weissenbach, valued friend, do love me! Interpretation of the drafts and reconstruction of the canon by Willem.