Прелюдия для фортепиано f-moll, WoO 55

Время создания: 1803 год или раньше.

Gianluca Cascioli (фортепиано)

The date of this composition varies widely according to the source. It may have come as early as 1787, when Beethoven was a mere seventeen years old. Other sources fix the date at around 1803. It was published in Vienna, in 1805, which might indicate recent completion or that Beethoven, who was generally careful in approving early works for publication, found it acceptable to his standards. Both of these possibilities, however, seem unlikely: a patch of ungainly writing would appear to be a strong indication it is an early work. However, how early is the question. The piece is clearly based on Bach's keyboard style and can be played on either piano or organ.

The awkwardness referred to above is divulged by a highly questionable series of key changes that come in a span of just six measures, perhaps the idea of a brilliant student nearly grasping the subtleties of composition while overlooking his youthful tendency to flaunt. The music has a dark, serious character, reflecting Beethoven's personality more than Bach's, all right, but the sound world is from the Baroque era. It is also slightly mechanical-sounding and features little color. In the end, it is a decent minor piece of three or four minutes' duration that will occasionally be played primarily because Beethoven's name is attached to it.

(Robert Cummings, Rovi)


In his later years Beethoven, like many other composers, turned to the music of J. S. Bach for new ideas. However, Beethoven's admiration of the late-Baroque master began while he was still in Bonn, and he may have composed his Prelude in F Minor, WoO 55, as an homage to Bach's preludes and fugues. It is less successful than his later contrapuntal masterpieces, such as his Piano Sonata, Op. 101, the first movement of the String Quartet, Op. 131 or the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133.

There exists a printed copy of the Prelude in F Minor with the hand-written comment that Beethoven wrote the piece when he was fifteen years old. If this is true, this would place the origins of the work in either 1786 or 1787, because of the confusion surrounding Beethoven's birth year during the composer's lifetime. It is possible that the young composer wrote the prelude as a composition exercise for his teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-98). The work was published in 1805 by the Bureau des Arts et d'Industrie in Vienna.

Some have drawn parallels between Beethoven's F minor Prelude and Prelude No. 12 from Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, (The Well-Tempered Klavier) also in F minor. The similarity, however, ends at the key signature. Bach's prelude is in common time while Beethoven's is in an unusual 3/2 meter. The subjects of the two works have different shapes, although parts of them are somewhat related by inversion, and the two works visit different key areas. Both, however, feature a return of the opening measures before the close of the piece, but this, too, is handled differently by each composer. Whereas the first four measures of the Beethoven appear in full near the end of the prelude, only six beats from the opening of the Bach return, and these are metrically displaced and re-harmonized.

Beethoven's prelude is a tribute to, and exercise in, Baroque figuration. Generally in three voices, the prelude opens with subject material in the uppermost voice that is then played at different levels simultaneously with lines also drawn from the subject. Beethoven visits several keys throughout the work, although the relative major does not have as strong a presence as it does in Baroque models. Although he recreates the continuous rhythm of a Bach prelude, Beethoven's Classical-era sensibility hovers in the background, evident in the key relationships and the literal return of much larger portions of material than we find in related works by Bach.

(All Music Guide)