Beethoven's Folksong Settings: Chronology, Sources, Style
Beethoven composed far more folksong settings than any other type of work. Most are British songs, including Auld Lang Syne and The Miller of Dee, with texts by such authors as Burns, Byron, and Scott. Yet Beethoven's settings, commissioned by George Thomson of Edinburgh, have been neglected by performers and scholars alike, and nearly all accounts of them are both superficial and startlingly inaccurate. This book is based on a very elaborate study of a wide range of sources, and dispels the many myths that have been circulating about this music. Each of the 179 settings is dated to within a few weeks, and an account is given of the sources of the melodies and texts, the difficulties of sending the music across Europe during the Napoleonic Wars (smugglers were even called upon to assist!), the fees Beethoven received, and when and how the texts were added. By comparing Beethoven's settings with those of his predecessors Pleyel, Haydn, and Kozeluch, Cooper demonstrates that Beethoven comprehensively transcended the bounds of convention, producing settings of extraordinary quality and originality. He also suggests ways of overcoming the problems of performing these songs.
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