Arrangements of Beethoven piano sonatas for orchestra?
September 16, 2017 3:29 AM   Subscribe

ClassicFilter: are there any well-known/well-regarded orchestral arrangements of Beethoven's piano sonatas, especially the late ones?

As an (amateur) orchestra geek, I always find myself thinking "but this is a symphony" when listening to the later Beethoven piano sonatas. You would think somebody would have arranged them for orchestra, but I've never heard of any famous arrangements (like the Bach/Stokowski Toccata and Fugue from Fantasia, or the Brahms/Schoenberg G minor quartet), and a cursory google doesn't come up with much.
Is this a matter of "if Beethoven had wanted them to be for orchestra he would have written them that way himself, don't mess with sacred things"? Or what?
If you do happen to know of any decent arrangements/recordings thereof, point me to them! Not for any specific purpose, I am just interested in hearing how they would sound. Thanks!
posted by huimangm to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Weingartner's arrangement of the Hammerklavier is the only one I can think of. A cheap recording seems to be available on Naxos.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 5:10 AM on September 16, 2017

Isn't this what Stokowski built his career on? Search Leopold Stokowski on Spotify and enjoy the abundance of orchestral arrangements of classical piano sonatas.
posted by annathea at 7:32 AM on September 16, 2017

Oh! I misread your post - you've heard of Stokowski. He only does 2-3 Beethoven arrangements that I know of, but they're definitive.
posted by annathea at 7:33 AM on September 16, 2017

Best answer: Historically, the reverse was the common thing, that is, to arrange music that was written for more instruments so it could be played on a piano, or with only few instruments. It helped disseminate orchestral music before the recording era. Haydn's London publisher Solomon made arrangements of some Symphonies for string quartet, flute and piano, for example.

Then again, I have also heard a string quartet version of a Haydn piano sonata made by the Offenbach music publisher André (I think around 1800), so here it works the other way round.
I have not, in two decades of Beethoven research, come across an orchestral version of a piano sonata, other than Stokowski (if you google Stokowski Beethoven arrangement, you'll find a version of the Moonlight sonata...), but I can't say I have been looking very hard.
posted by Namlit at 8:04 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: IMSLP is helpful here. They have an online collection of public domain scores (and recordings, though not for the relevant pieces I found). They list 567 scores arranged for orchestra.

They don't list any arrangements of any complete Beethoven sonatas. And they don't have any recordings of what they do have. But there are some movements.

The first movement of No. 11, Op. 22 was arranged by Pablo Fernández Rojas for orchestra. He also did the first movement of No. 15, Op. 28 for orchestra.

The second movement of No. 8, Op. 13 was arranged by Sean Franklin Brown for string orchestra.

There are a few other Beethoven piano pieces arranged for orchestra, such as the Bagatelle in g (Op. 119, no. 1) by Rob Peters and Für Elise by Michel Rondeau.

There are additional arrangements of Beethoven sonatas for chamber ensembles, such as Frédéric Brisson's arrangements of slow movements from six of them for violin, cello, piano/harp, and organ/harmonium.

Again, none of these are recordings, but it may help you find some recordings. It also seems to confirm that there are no (public domain) major arrangements.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:46 AM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Weingartner's 1930 recording of his Hammerklavier orchestration.
posted by in278s at 1:35 PM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you very much, everyone--I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond. All answers appreciated, will check out the information given. (I'm still curious why there aren't more, but maybe everyone was in fear of the Curse of the Ninth....). Best.
posted by huimangm at 5:43 PM on September 22, 2017

« Older Helping partner through sudden pet death   |   I need book recommendations for a teenager Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.