Re-Contextualising Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Op. 61

Roy, Anupam. 2019. Re-Contextualising Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Op. 61. Other thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Op. 61, apparently composed in considerable haste towards the end of 1806 and
premiered in December of the same year, occupies a central but intriguing position amongst the output of his
oft-labelled Middle Period. This thesis is concerned with the Concerto from both analytical and aesthetic
standpoints. For the former, I study major contributions in the concerto genre immediately preceding
Beethoven, including the extensive repertoire of concertos by the late eighteenth-century French violinistcomposers
Viotti, Kreutzer, Rode and Baillot; Mozart’s keyboard concertos; the D Major Violin Concerto by
Viennese violinist Franz Clement, composed only a year before Beethoven’s opus; and some of Beethoven’s own
contemporaneous pieces. I trace the patterns in the above concertos—formal structure, texture, orchestration,
soloist-orchestra relationships et al—from the French works to Clement, and observe how the said patterns are,
in turn, realised and expanded in Beethoven’s work.

My second consideration takes the thesis in the realms of aesthetic values commonly ascribed by both past and
present scholars to the Op. 61 Concerto in particular, and to Beethoven’s Middle Period oeuvre in general.
Certain works from this time have repeatedly been advanced as containing music in the ‘heroic’ style—the Eroica
and the Fifth Symphonies and the Emperor Concerto, for instance. The Violin Concerto, however, in spite of
coming from the heart of the period when these pieces were composed, has been consistently marginalised in
such discussions. In this thesis, I explore opera such as those referred to above to ascertain specific
compositional devices and methods that, commentators argue, support this type of value judgement, and
subsequently show that many of the said designs are present in Op. 61 as well. In many ways, including formal
scheme, the role assigned to the orchestra vis-à-vis its interaction with the soloist, and so on, the Violin Concerto,
I contend, shares many similarities with other Middle Period works. In the light of the above inferences, I then
examine the grounds for systematic omission of the work from any discourse on Beethoven’s ‘heroic’ music. I
conclude by suggesting that the ‘heroism’ trope is, perhaps, in need of a careful re-evaluation, one that is flexible
enough to incorporate pieces such as Op. 61 that, on first look, do not seem to subscribe to the values, but
nevertheless contain subtle indications towards the presence of the same strategies that have been celebrated
in other works as heralding the ‘heroic’ style.

Item Type:

Thesis (Other)

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Additional Information:

This is an M.Phil thesis.


Beethoven, violin, concerto, Mozart, Viotti, Franz Clement

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31 January 2019

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Date Deposited:

05 Apr 2019 10:43

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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