Critical Notes Series: Le Beau's Cello Music

Le Beau - Sonata in D major, Op. 17 (Urtext Edition)
Le Beau - 4 (5) Pieces, Op. 24 (Urtext Edition)
Le Beau - 3 Pieces, Op. 26 (Transcribed for Cello and Piano)

Cello Sonata

Luise Adolpha Le Beau (1850 – 1927) was a German composer. She studied with noted musicians Clara Schumann and Franz Lachner, but her primary instructor was Josef Gabriel Rheinberger. Like many other 19th-century female composers, Le Beau began her career in music as a pianist and later earned her living teaching, critiquing, and performing music.

Le Beau's Cello Sonata was completed on 12 October 1878, with the first two movements being completed on 17 September and 23 September, respectively. It was published in Hamburg by August Cranz in March 1883. The first movement of the Sonata is reminiscent of early Brahms (i.e. Serenade, Op. 11), and the finale of Mendelssohn's Cello Sonata No. 2, Op. 58. The slow movement is quite melancholy, with a reflective middle section reminiscent of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 58.

The cello and piano parts are equal in Le Beau's Cello Sonata. The piano part is not as challenging as Brahms or Mendelssohn, so an intermediate player would enjoy playing this work. The cello part is between grades 3 and 4 based on the ASTA syllabus. The cello part stays within the first 6 positions in the first two movements. The thumb is used on the middle harmonic in the finale. There is an F#5 near the end of the finale, approached by step.

Pieces, Op. 24

Le Beau composed five pieces for cello with piano accompaniment, four of which would be published as Op. 24. The pieces were composed in the following order: Romanze, Wiegenlied, Mazurka, Gavotte, and Barcarole. The Romanze was completed on 29 January 1881 and the Barcarole on 4 May 1881. The titling seems to have occurred after the composition of the set because the numbers appear at 1, 3, 4, 2, and 5 in the autograph without any erasures. The title page has "Fünf" (five) erased and replaced with "Vier" (Four).

The autograph of the cello part contains fingerings that were eventually published by J. Rieter-Biedermann in 1882. However, some of the fingerings were crossed out and/or replaced, making the autograph look like it was used for post-publication performances. Our edition favors the new fingerings. The Barcarole was eventually published separately in June 1886 in Cologne by P.J. Tonger (mentioned in Neue Musik-Zeitung). This Barcarole is sometimes assigned the catalog number Op. 65a, No. 5 because it was reused in Op. 65a for violin and piano. We believe it should remain Op. 24, No. 5 when played on the cello. The Romanze is included on the ABRSM grade 8 syllabus.

Our editions of the Cello Sonata and the Op. 24 Pieces are based exclusively on autographs as they are more detailed and do not contain pitch, rhythm, slurring, and articulation errors that made their way into the publications. The original Barcarole is included in the appendix of our edition. We thank Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin for providing the sources.

Pieces, Op. 26

Luise Le Beau published her 3 Pieces, Op. 26 for viola and piano in June 1883. The opus contains 2 Schumannesque works, Nachtstück and Träumerei, as well as the Chopinesque Polonaise.

The pieces are intended for an intermediate-level violist. Our transcription tries to adhere to that level for the cello. Around half of the music has retained the original octave and the other half was brought down an octave. Only a handful of notes were changed in the arpeggios of the Polonaise to make sense of the voicing. Otherwise, the original pitches were retained. The piano part may be considered urtext and played with the original viola part.

We used the C. F. Kahnt edition from June 1883 as our primary source. Any corrections in the piano part are marked with editorial marks. All of the slurring, dynamics, articulations, etc. in the cello part were retained from the viola part.

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