Beethoven’s Counterpoint Studies with Haydn

One of the largest groups of Unheard Beethoven works is the counterpoint exercises that Beethoven wrote for Haydn and Albrechtsberger while he was their student in Vienna. Long inaccessible to the public, the Beethovenhaus and G.Henle recently published a transcription of these exercises. At long last, we are able to present to you a full hour of Unheard Beethoven from his studies with Franz Josef Haydn–an hour and 45 minutes if you count the versions corrected by Haydn separately!

Be warned that these aren’t the most fascinating for the casual listener–they’re pedantic exercises based on ancient church modes. But they laid the groundwork for Beethoven’s lifelong obsession with the fugue and counterpoint, and as such they are important to understanding the Master’s compositional evolution. Our sincere thanks to the Beethovenhaus and Julia Ronge, who got that project going after it languished for many years.

Most of Beethoven’s work with Albrechtsberger is already available on the website, but we will be adding the exercises Beethoven did for him in strict and free counterpoint (Hess 234 and 235) in the near future. The vast majority of those exercises also were unpublished until recently.

The mp3 files here make use of some of the Vienna Symphonic Library solo string samples that we acquired thanks to the wonderful contributors to our GoFundMe. Please feel free to donate so we can acquire more of these improved samples!