Growth and change in Beethoven's compositional style and approach
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While Vienna certainly served as the primary center for Beethoven’s music world, his hometown of Bonn left an indelible mark on the composer’s life. One of his original works—the Wind Octet, Opus 103—and its recomposition—the String Quintet, Opus 4—serve as model representatives for two completely different cities, times, and, in a sense, composers. An in-depth comparison of the Octet and Quintet reveals a great deal of change in Beethoven and his compositional style and approach from Bonn to his early time in Vienna. The arrangement of the Octet into the Quintet is a unique opportunity to gain insight into Beethoven’s development as a composer. The fact that the musical ideas from a completed unpublished work were allowed to freely gestate is remarkable. The differences found between the Octet and Quintet—particularly in terms of melody, harmony, structure, and motivic usage—effectively show the development of his compositional style during his formative years. Beethoven’s insatiable desire to reshape his music allowed the Quintet to serve as the perfect instrument to incorporate and adapt the Octet’s preexisting musical ideas. This music more aptly suited not only Beethoven’s tastes at the time, but also the very concepts that would go on to define him as one of the most remarkable and influential composers in the history of western art music. While there is extant research that uses the Octet and Quintet to compare Beethoven’s late Bonn and early Vienna compositional styles, a comprehensive comparison of each movement is currently not available. This document serves four purposes. First, it presents a detailed factual history of both works. Next, the paper details current scholarship and its trends regarding Beethoven’s arrangements, specifically the Octet and Quintet. Third, this dissertation provides an in-depth look into the differences between the two works in their entirety in order to more effectively focus on the specific musical changes Beethoven exhibited while arranging the Quintet. Lastly, this dissertation will present a guide to performing the Octet, specifically the work’s interpretational and logistical issues.