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Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 4: The Score

By Brooke Szymusiak

Complete scan

Portrait of Beethoven


Joseph Karl Stieler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 


The Riemenschneider Bach Institute (RBI) received this concerto generously from the Martin Collection. The score is kept safely in a bound book cover to try to preserve it for as long as possible. The collection consists of a piano score and a score for each of the parts. The specific score kept in the RBI is not Beethoven’s original copy, but the piano score has what looks like rehearsal markings from a musician of the past. It is unknown whose markings these are, but they suggest this may be a conductor’s score. It is unknown if these are Beethoven’s markings. Knowing what his handwriting looks like, we do not believe it is his. The written-in rehearsal letters do not correspond with a modern score you may purchase today.  

The score contains no metronome markings, as it was composed before the metronome was invented in 1816. Instead, it is marked Allegro Moderato, meaning a little slower than fast. This is interesting because conductors at the time had to guess what tempo to project to their orchestra, unless they personally knew Beethoven. A modern conductor’s score lays out each part visually vertical on each page. This score has a separate “book” for each instrument. Most of today’s sheet music is re-organized digitally to fit the needs of the musician using it. You can find revised and updated versions of the score from musicians who have made minor revisions to make it more modern and fit digital screens. A musician can purchase their instrument’s part digitally and download it to their tablet or it can be printed.