Canon for 4 voices in C, Hess Anh. 60

Canon for 4 voices in C, Hess Anh. 60
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Performer: Willem
Length: 0:45
Canon for 4 voices in C, Hess Anh. 60
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Author: Armando Orlandi
Length: 0:42
Three Canons, Hess Anh. 60, 61 and 62.

After Beethoven's death his friend and fellow-composer Ignaz von Seyfried (1776-1841) went through his papers. Seyfried, like Beethoven, had studied counterpoint under Albrechtsberger. In 1832 he published a book, "Beethovens Studien im Generalbass", in which he included a great many of Beethoven's contrapuntal exercises and fugues. Indeed, for several pieces Seyfried's book is the only source available, even today ! See for example the fugues Hess 236 nr.12, Hess 237 nr.5, Hess 238 nr.6 and Hess 239 nr.3, which can be found on this site.

However, Seyfried was by no means a scholar in the modern sense of the word. He had no problems changing Beethoven's music if he thought he could improve it, or when he felt that Beethoven had made a mistake. Therefore the music in Seyfried's book has to be viewed with great suspicion.

Apart from these wilful changes, Seyfried also made honest mistakes. The present three canons (Hess Anhang 60, 61 and 62) are possibly examples of this. Seyfried believed probably sincerely that they were by Beethoven. (Seyfried, p.333-6). In the 20th century, however, Willy Hess demonstrated that at least the canons Anh. 61 and 62 are not genuine Beethoven compositions, because they originate from an earlier source: Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg (1718-1795), the famous music theorist. Very likely the same is true for the canon Anh. 60, although in this case there is still a chance that it is by Beethoven, since no earlier source has been discovered as yet.

All three canons are intelligent as well as beautiful, and testify to great musical skill. It's therefore easy to understand that Beethoven felt the need to copy them out for study purposes.


Addendum, March 2013

Thanks to a communication from Ferenc M. we now know that the Hess Anh.60 canon is indeed not by Beethoven, but by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749). Here you can see Stölzel's book from 1725, with the Hess Anh.60 canon.

So, that's one riddle solved !

Thanks Ferenc !

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