Braunschweig Scores - Felix Weingartner and Erich Leinsdorf on the First Four Symphonies of Beethoven

Author: Mitchell, Jon Ceander


“Jon Ceander Mitchell has done all conductors a great service by bringing this volume to fruition. The annotations from this set of scores are at once a wonderful window into the past and provide a thought provoking challenge for contemporary performers. They have been transcribed here with considerable care and clarity. Dr. Mitchell’s insightful comments in the introductory material display his usual attention to details both of the material at hand and its historical context. Most important, this book prompts modern conductors to revisit the ideas of two of the greatest musical statesmen of a past generation; ideas that have recently been neglected in the effort to pursue an often elusive authenticity.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Dr. Jeffrey Bell-Hanson, Associate Professor of Music, Pacific Lutheran University

“Felix Weingartner and Erich Leinsdorf were among the most respected orchestral conductors of the first and second halves of the twentieth century, respectively. They were particularly noted for their concern with the Viennese Classical composers, above all Beethoven. Both were also more thoughtful and literate than many musicians, each responsible for a number of influential published writings to place alongside his numerous recordings. Thus it is of great interest that there survives a copy of the standard nineteenth-century edition of Beethoven's first four symphonies in score with numerous additional markings in the hand of Erich Leinsdorf.

The present work, by Dr. Jon Ceander Mitchell, chair of the music department and conductor of the orchestra at the University of Massachusetts Boston, documents Leinsdorf's markings. The sheer number of Leinsdorf's annotations is an indication of the thoroughness with which the conductor examined and impressed his musical personality on Beethoven's work; of 130 pages in Mitchell's manuscript, no fewer than 88, or just under 75%, comprise a detailed listing and description of Leinsdorf's interpretive markings. Mitchell's transcription is accompanied by biographical accounts of both Weingartner and Leinsdorf and a short general discussion pointing out some of the chief features of the latter's markings in the four scores. Also included are fifteen plates reproducing pages from the Beethoven scores, with Leinsdorf's handwritten annotations.

The biographical chapters are particularly valuable for their accounts of concert programs and, for Leinsdorf, contemporary newspaper reviews, which make fascinating reading whether or not one is familiar with the recordings or actual performances of either musician. Mitchell refrains from extensive commentary on the annotations, allowing these to speak for themselves. But conductors and students of twentieth-century performance traditions will spend many instructive hours reading the list of Leinsdorf's markings against their scores of the four symphonies. In doing so they will find themselves recreating the interpretive processes of a strong musical personality and intellect. They will also catch a glimpse of the innumerable small creative decisions and the detailed technical preparations that a great conductor puts into any performance. In this regard it is especially interesting that Leinsdorf apparently collaborated with his concertmaster at Boston, Joseph Silverstein, in some of the directions for string bowing. (Mitchell discusses their musical relationship.)

Today, when performers on both modern and historical instruments tend to hew much more closely to the composer's original version of a score, students and teachers alike will be surprised by the extent and freedom of Leinsdorf's annotations. This is so despite the fact that by comparison with many contemporaries, Leinsdorf was what Mitchell terms a “literalist.” Mitchell neither praises nor condemns Leinsdorf's approach, leaving it to the reader to judge whether his manner of dealing with Beethoven's always challenging music should now be emulated or avoided. But in any case he has provided scholars and orchestral directors alike with a unique document of twentieth-century orchestral practice. Mitchell's work will take its place as a resource for studies of twentieth-century performance practice, alongside Robert Philip's studies of early recordings and Jose Bowen's examinations of the relationship between conducting, analysis, and historical performance practices.” – Dr.David Schulenberg, Chair, Music Department, Wagner College, New York

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
2. Felix Weingartner, the First Modem Conductor
3. Erich Leinsdorf, The Composer's Advocate
4. The Braunschweig Scores
Guide to Abbreviations used in the Tables
Table 1: Symphony No. 1 in C, Op.
Table 2: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.
Table 3: Symphony No. 3 in EFlat, Op. 55 "Eroica"
Table 4: Symphony No. 4 in BFlat, Op. 60