The Impossible Note (II): a theoretical explanation

The Impossible Note (II): a theoretical explanation


In our recent article The Impossible Note in Beethoven’s Sonata n.14 opus 27.2” we examined the first edition of Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano sonata n. 14 by the Viennese publisher Johann Cappi. We specifically pointed out the DD# in the bass — and thus a DD#-E# interval — in measure 20 of the first movement, the Adagio Sostenuto. This note has universally been labeled as an engraver’s error, and even as an error possibly made by Beethoven himself and taken over by a copyist who would have written out an engraver’s copy of the composition.

In Part I (June 2015) we provided a number of substantive arguments which led us to propose that the note DD# in the low bass of bar 20 is in fact not a publisher’s error, but intended by the composer. Beethoven himself wrote it down firmly in the surviving autograph. Pointing to a number of distinct references, musical and biographical, we have indicated a parallel with the composer’s sonata n.31 opus 110. Musically however, this note has not yet proven itself. The label ‘impossible’ still clings to it.

What is clearly apparent is that the note in bar 20 is deemed ‘impossible’ by many, from a musical and theoretical point of view. This article aims to change that perception.

ARTICLE by Birgitta Arts and Sietse Kok, available for download below.

click here