12 немецких танцев для оркестра, WoO 8

Время создания: ноябрь 1795 года

No.1 in C
No.2 in A
No.3 in F
No.4 in Bb
No.5 in Eb
No.7 in C
No.6 in G
No.8 in A
No.9 in F
No.10 in D
No.11 in G
No.12 in C

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,
Neville Marriner


The Twelve Minuets WoO 7 and Twelve German Dances WoO 8 were written for the ball of the Pension Society of Viennese artists on 22 November 1795. Beethoven had composed them free of charge "out of love for his fellow artists". After all the ball (a masked ball) was a benefit event by the Pension Society "to enhance the financial basis of its fund for its valued members, widows and orphans". Two years later on 26 November 1797 the dances and minuets were repeated at the same event on account of their great popularity. Already three weeks after the ball in 1795 they appeared in a piano reduction, as it was a well-known fact that they "had been received with applause", as emphasized in the publisher's advertisement. Beethoven revised the Minuets WoO 7 for the ball in 1797, fine-tuning the sound and its effect. As far as WoO 8 is concerned, it is more difficult to prove whether there was a revision due to the different situation with the sources. However, we can assume that Beethoven also brought his new knowledge and experiences into the composition.


Beethoven, as was his practice with most of his dances in his early years, scored these pieces for orchestra first, then transcribed them for piano. The instrumentation he employed in the orchestral rendition of the Twelve German Dances here was piccolo, posthorn, pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets, and strings and a sizable percussion battery, including timpani and triangle. From this array, it is easy to see that he favored both a greater wind presence and much color in this sonic arena.

All in all, these are generally well-crafted dances, even if they are not always revealing of the composer's more inventive side. One advanced feature they share is in their expanded coda, clearly foreshadowing his ideas in the realm of the symphony. The last dance here, in fact, ends with the splendor of a glorious symphony, with brass delivering grandiose fanfares and percussion underpinning with power.

The Third and Fourth Dances here are also notable efforts, the former for its deft polyphonic writing and the latter for its attractively-conceived trio. There are also many brilliantly scored passages for the various instruments, including a posthorn solo in the Twelfth Dance and some enchanting solos for clarinets and horns in No. 5. The rhythms in No. 6 have great appeal in their quirky accenting, and the Eighth and Ninth are both charming in their thematic wares and bright atmospheres.

These dances will offer more color and substance in their orchestral version, though the piano rendition delivers a crispness and charm of its own.

(All Music Guide)