A Discography of Beethoven Rarities
UPDATE (December 2019): This section has expanded significantly, and will continue to expand, with the seemingly nonstop release of rarities by the major labels for Beethoven’s 250th birthday year. In particular, the Naxos Beethoven Complete Edition has brought to light a great many previously unrecorded Beethoven works, and even more are available on DG’s New Complete Beethoven Edition. We have nonetheless continued to use the 1997 Deutsche Grammophon Complete Beethoven Edition as a baseline, in order to make it clear what new rarities have appeared since the inception of this website 20 years ago. Many of these pieces, we are extremely proud to say, have been recorded at last in part due to our efforts to make The Unheard Beethoven heard. We are very grateful to the scholars, musicians and record company executives who have heard our cries in the wilderness. Gone are the days when it was impossible to assemble a library of even Beethoven’s works with opus numbers. Now nearly all of the Kinsky-Halm catalogue, most of the Hess catalogue, and large chunks of the Biamonti catalogue have seen the light of day at last. But there is always more work to be done, so we are not going anywhere!
While this site is devoted to Beethoven works that have not been recorded, there are a number of the Master’s works which have been recorded only on rare occasions. This list was made much shorter thanks to the issuance of the “Complete Beethoven Edition” by Deutsche Grammophon in December of 1997. A great many previously unrecorded works can be found in that immense set, which is invaluable to anyone seeking the complete Beethoven on record, but is lamentably out of print. That wonderful set is occasionally available here, but be prepared to open the checkbook wide. At least portions of it are available for download from various sources. Two more mostly complete sets are available from Brilliant Classics and Cascade at an attractive price for the thrifty, though there are some serious quality issues with the latter (the beginning of the First Symphony having gone missing from the first CD being a sign of things to come), and some licensors have complained that they were never paid by the disc producers, throwing that set’s legitimacy into question. The Brilliant Classics box set has been reissued at least twice, with differing contents each time, making any sort of cataloguing effort futile.
In any event, the DG Complete Beethoven Edition (the “CBE”) and the Brilliant Classics and Cascade sets are by no means complete; there are still a great many works which are excluded from their scope, as can be seen from this website. In addition, there are a significant number of Beethoven pieces which have on occasion been recorded, but which are for one reason or another omitted (in whole or in part) from the CBE. The following list is designed to aid in tracking down those elusive pieces. We are highly gratified that a significant number of these recordings date from after this website was founded in 1999, and that we are beginning to succeed in our original mission of making the Unheard into the Heard. Our sincere thanks to the performers and producers who have helped bring this about.
We do not pretend to have provided a comprehensive list of all such recordings; where there are both LP and CD versions of pieces, we have typically listed only the CD unless there is a particular significance to the LP version. LP versions are denoted as such; if no indication otherwise is given, then the catalog information refers to a CD.
Those seeking a comprehensive look at recordings of the works of Beethoven should visit the website of our friends at LvBdb, a Beethoven database, where details of recordings both rare and common, in and out of print, can be found.
In many cases, these LPs and CDs are out of print, making a truly complete Beethoven collection a task for the determined if not foolhardy. The principal exceptions are the CDs issued by our good friends at Monument Records, who have valiantly kept many rare recordings of Beethoven compositions in print, often collaborating with The Unheard Beethoven for obtaining scores and background information. Monument’s CDs can be ordered directly from their website. Otherwise, we are unable to help in tracking down copies of any materials on these lists, beyond the links provided. We also respect the intellectual property of others, so please do not contact us requesting copies. We would appreciate any corrections or additional information which can be provided on these or other elusive recordings, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks are due to Frank en Janneke, to Leon Krejci, to Vincent Chang, to Rob Ritchie, to Gerald Dault, to Holger Hilsenitz, and to James F. Green of Monument Records, who provided recording data on several of the entries within.