The Grosse Redoutensaal (Grand Ballroom) of the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna Engraving by Joseph Schütz
6 Minuets, WoO 10 for orchestra (1795, Beethoven aged 24. Arranged by Franz Beyer)
no.1 in C major
no.2 in G major
no.3 in E flat major
no.4 in B flat major
no.5 in C major
no.6 in D major
Dedication not known
Background and Critical Reception
Beethoven’s six minuets of 1795, our first encounter with him working as a composer of dances ‘to order’, were written for an unknown combination of instruments. The only surviving version in his hand is for solo piano, so respected scholar Franz Beyer made an arrangement for orchestra, an imagination of what Beethoven might have written for the bigger stage.
The orchestrations are attractive, Beyer working with a small orchestra to deliver arrangements that sound to these ears like a close approximation of what Beethoven himself would have written. The lively third minuet comes off particularly well in its full arrangement, as does the genial fourth. The sixth is full bodied, like the minuet of a late Haydn symphony.
Recordings used and Spotify links
Philharmonia Hungarica / Hans Ludwig Hirsch (Warner Classics)
The performances here are nicely weighted, if a little slow at times. The celebrated Minuet in G in particular is given at a pedestrian speed, but after acclimatising the ear takes that as a graceful dance.
You can chart the Arcana Beethoven playlist as it grows, with one recommended version of each piece we listen to. Catch up here!
Also written in 1795 Gyrowetz – Three Flute Quartets Op.11
Next up Rondo in G major WoO129 ‘Rage over a lost penny’