Whose arrangement is it anyway? Coming to terms with Carl Czerny’s use of extended instrumental range in his 1805 Harmoniemusik of Beethoven’s Septet Op. 20.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In 1805 the 14-year old Carl Czerny, fresh from his studies with Beethoven, made a Harmoniemusik arrangement of his teacher’s Septet Op. 20 which lay apparently unperformed until 2018. One reason for this neglect may be the extreme nature of the instrumental writing: for instance, the first clarinet part incorporates much of the original violin line, and thus poses a particular challenge to the player because of its unusually high tessitura. While preparing this arrangement for performance and recording, I had to make a number of decisions: is Czerny’s writing that of an inexperienced boy, betraying a poor understanding of the wind music idiom, or an insight into contemporary attitudes to the instrument? Should the part be edited to make it more ‘idiomatic’, or should our notions of the idiom of clarinet playing be altered to account for this arrangement? And if the latter, how could it be realised convincingly in performance, given the gap between the sound-worlds of the violin and clarinet?

This paper discusses how a ‘collaboration’ can take place between a composer, arranger, editor and performer separated by two centuries. It considers the status of an arrangement as ‘evidence’ of past musical practice, and the ways in which notions of trust and authority operate in a situation where creative practice and scholarly enquiry sit side by side.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 24 Nov 2022
EventKunstuniversität Graz Harmoniemusiktage 2022 - Kunstuniversität Graz, Oberschützen, Austria
Duration: 23 Nov 202224 Nov 2022


ConferenceKunstuniversität Graz Harmoniemusiktage 2022

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