Redoutensaal with masked ball, engraving by Weimann Photo (c) Julia Teresa Friehs
12 German Dances, WoO 13 for piano (1796, Beethoven aged 25
no.1 in D major
no.2 in B flat major
no.3 in G major
no.4 in D major
no.5 in F major
no.6 in B flat major
no.7 in D major
no.8 in G major
no.9 in E flat major
no.10 in D major
no.11 in A major
no.12 in D major
Dedication possibly Vienna Artists’ Pension Society
Background and Critical Reception
The general feeling among Beethoven commentators is that this set of 12 German Dances, like the previous ones we have heard, were written for orchestra. It is reasonable to assume they would have been a repeat commission for the masked charity ball of the Viennese Artists’ Pension Society, given the success of the previous year’s commission in 1795, but on this occasion no orchestral scoring survives; just a short score for piano.
These are lively pieces and good fun to listen to – and no doubt good fun in the ballroom too. Their full value would be revealed there, for to listen to them without the dancing means they start to blend in to one after a while.
Recordings used and Spotify links
Gianluca Cascioli (DG)
Jenõ Jandó (Naxos)
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 1796 Cimarosa – I nemici generosi
Next up Piano Sonata no.5 in C minor Op.10/1