The minuets of Haydn and Mozart: goblins or elephants?
William Malloch tries to prove that Haydn's and Mozart's minuets are being played much too slowly and ought to be rendered at considerably faster speeds.(1)
This is a great oversimplification of what I said. Neumann, conveniently, attributes to me a generalization I did not make - then proceeds to refute it. What I did say was:
Modern performers, failing to appreciate the tremendous range of tempos covered by these dances [minuets], are giving us the bottom half only. The pedestal is there, but the statue is missing. We have been denied the exhilarating late |minuet' tempos of Haydn and Mozart ...(2)
I made it clear in my 1985 Opus article and in my 1988 Early music article(3) that |Metronome marks for the slower minuets also appear in the twelve earlier Mozart symphonies Czerny edited.' The additional list of tempos by Czerny for Mozart quartets and quintets in table 1, which appears here for the first time, also shows a similarly wide range of minuet tempos, from slow to fast (for quartets and quintets, dotted minim = 44-84; together with the list of tempos by Czerny and Hummel for the Mozart symphonies, dotted minim = 42-88 - see table 2 of my 1988 Early music article).
It is important to emphasize, however, that Czerny and Hummel give us no clearly determinable pattern of tempo differentiations as they relate to such tempo words as Allegro, Allegretto and Moderato.
Neumann goes on to say:
Malloch bases his case mainly on three pieces of evidence: 1) metronome markings by Carl Czerny for Haydn's Salomon Symphonies as arranged for piano (ca. 1845), and for twelve of Mozart's early symphonies (1847) and his last six symphonies arranged for four-hand piano (1835); [2)] metronome markings by Hummel for Mozart's last six symphonies in arrangements for flute, violin, cello and piano (1823-24) and for piano solo (n.d.); and 3) mechanical clocks built by Joseph Niemecz, for which Haydn wrote a number of pieces, among them several minuet-like movements.
No mention is made here of another category of evidence I touched upon: tempos derived from timings, namely those by J. C. Smith for the Earl of Bute's mechanical organ of 1762. These also lay out the range of tempos for minuets popular at the time, ones by Handel (slow, 3/4, dotted minim = 46; fast, 6/8, dotted crotchet = 68) and Geminiani (fast, 3/8, dotted crotchet = 59). Neumann tells us that |the French minuet ... by midcentury ... seems to have slowed considerably'and that |we can find scant references to fast minuets', but here is significant evidence that minuets both slow and fast were played in mid-18th-century England.
Since there is also other well known evidence collected by Sachs, Kirkpatrick, Zaslaw and others from L'Affilard, Pajot, la Chapelle, Marguet, Quantz, Pasquali, Choquel, Engramelle et al., indicating that from 1717 to 1775 minuets were danced both fast and slow, anywhere between MM 53 and 80 per bar,(5) is it really likely that it was only during the 1780s that musicians of the time just happened to slow down the minuet, playing only the bottom side of minuet tempos and not the top side-then to speed up again afterwards by the 1790s and 1800?(6) Is it not more plausible that the minuet was all along danced both fast and slow - and everywhere in between, that it was played'faster or slower, according to the tune that is played, which the dancer is obliged to follow'?(7)
Neumann again oversimplifies matters when he uniformly equates Tempo di Menuetto with Allegretto, or his conception of it, which he claims to mean |relaxed ease' and to have been 'anything but fast.' Allegretto for Czerny (and, arguably, Haydn) seems subject to no such restrictions. Its actual place often seems to him interchangeable with Allegro, both words indicating more about character than speed. Neumann's hanging on to a limited and personalized notion of what constitutes an Allegretto leads him to assume many things for which there is little foundation.
With respect to Beethoven, Neumann points out that the two metronomized instances of a Tempo di Menuetto by Beethoven are crotchet = 116 (Septet) and 126 (Symphony no. 8), calling these tempos |an ideal realization of the "Allegretto" idea. He forgets that Beethoven's Allegretto finale to the Pastoral Symphony (3/4, arguably a one-in-a-bar minuet) is marked dotted minim = 60 (crotchet = 180) and that the Menuetto allegretto of his String Quartet op.18 no-4, is marked dotted minim = 84 (crotchet = 252)! These too help us to understand the true Allegretto ideal. Neumann's 'relaxed ease?' Perhaps, but these tempos are anything but slow.
Other statements of Neumann puzzle me. He says that |The minuet of Mozart's G major Quartet, K387 ... has little affinity to a dance ...' Why? As tables 1 and 2 demonstrate, Czerny marks it dotted minim = 60. It is true that it is usually played more slowly, c.52, but certainly, at Czerny's tempo, the music dances. Moreover, Neumann fails to mention that Mozart marks this movement Allegro (Allegretto in the first draft). A relatively rapid dance-like tempo is essential here, for otherwise we will not sense the offbeat hemiolas (outlined by forte accents) in bars 3-6 and following. Czemy also calls for this tempo in the Menuetto in Canone of Mozart's String Quintet in C minor, K516b/406 (after the Wind Serenade, K384a/388), and for the same reason, so that we can feel the hemiola crosswinds blowing from its first bars onward. Hummel and Czemy also ask for the Menuetto Allegretto of the symphony no. 40 to go quite fast, again for the same reason (Hummel, dotted minim = 76; Czerny, dotted minim = 72).
Neumann also refers to the Landler's being |in three slow beats', reminding us that many Haydn minuets are rooted in folksong, |which itself is unhurried. Why make this latter statement? Folk music can be in any tempo, hurried or not.
Regarding the 'three slow beats, it is likely that Landler, like minuets, also had a much wider tempo range than we suppose (the range is still quite wide as they are danced today). Surely there, were many which went at a slow tempo, such as the first Beethoven Modlinger Dance I mentioned in my original article, the rapid-fire tattoos of its French horns ensuring a slow pace. And certainly, as Neumann mentions, the Landlerische, K606, of Mozart may be 'hard to distinguish from the leisurely minuet'. But how leisurely is that? A Landler on a Swiss musical clock dating from the late 18th or early 19th century (Claude Marchal collection, Switzerland) goes at c.66 per bar, and a Landlerische on one of Strand's mechanical organs Of 1790 goes at c.70.(8)
Neumanns assumptions about tempo are just that. They seem based on what is essentially a largely Viennese-inspired |received tradition - tempo assumptions which go back only to the later 19th century at the earliest. Neumann also cites Jean-Pierre Marty's deductions about Mozart tempos.(9) But these, too, though usually carefully reasoned, can only be assumptions.
One can argue with Czerny's and Hummel's metronome markings, but on no grounds can they be dismissed as irrational. As I mentioned in my Opus article, Czerny had an astute tempo memory and was in effect one of the most diligent and perceptive of early musicologists. Hummel was so concerned with tempo that he had it written into his contract that he was to have control over all tempos during his 18-year tenure at Weimar, Much of the history of music consists of often hotly argued opinions about what music actually consists of, arguments sometimes never to be resolved. Surely in this sense, though, as long as everybody is guessing, guessey closer to the time of a music's currency are at least as valid as those of any late 20th-century musicologist.
It must be emphasized that, like them or not, metronome marks and associated forms of measurement, including the perspective gained from automatic mechanical instruments, are all the hard evidence we have about actual tempos of the past. Neumann and other musicologists can, of course, build fanciful hierarchical tables associating tempos and tempo words. The problem comes when one tries to link such words with actual available historical tempo measurements, for the results are often quite obviously and inconveniently in conflict with each other and with many present-day assumptions.
The material means of music are rationally quantifiable - but not the mysteries of their application. As far as historical evidence is concerned, words about musical complexes can only reasonably be understood in their confluence with tempos we can actually measure. Alone, words are subject to a too great variety of interpretation. The available body of existing tempo evidence may appear to Neumann to be slim, but this does not mean that it is insignificant.
As regards the Niemecz mechanical organs bearing Haydn compositions: Neumann criticizes me for saying that the machines play within a narrow range, stating that the machines' air brakes can be set in such a way 'that the speed is either halved or doubled, and that therefore tie question of an absolute original tempo becomes pointless.'
Well, of course the question of an |absolute original tempo' is always pointless. Everyone knows that not even two metronomes can stay in synchrony, and certainly all human tempos, even when they might appear dose to absolute, continually vary. But the question of finding a valid tempo area is not pointless.
Neumann's statement about the air brakes is anyway very misleading, for they in fact can be set on a sliding scale, so that the speed of the machines can be gradually modified either up or down. The slowest speeds, however, are already quite fast and there is little practical room for manipulation beyond them. The most musically sensible choice is to record the machines at their slowest, for soon enough any significant increase beyond this makes the notes begin to jumble together unintelligibly. This is the narrow range' I was talking about.
As I related in my Opus article, in 1979 I indeed recorded two of those three mechanical organs, the undated organ (Teubner) and that of 1793 (Veyder-Malberg), at their slowest speeds.(10) It is possible that due to replacement of ageing springs and ropes the organs originally went somewhat slower,(11) but they could not have gone slower by much because the bellows are linked with the barrels' rotation - too slow a pace means that insufficient air circulates for the pipes to speak.
As regards finding more'absolute'tempo area indications for automatic mechanical instruments: there are mechanical noises on the recordings I made of the 1793 and undated Niemecz mechanical organs associated with the turning of these instruments'flywheels. The flywheel of the 1793 instrument appears to rotate at c.63 turns per minute. As Arthur Ord-Hume has pointed out, organ makers would rather avoid fractions when laying out their calculations. One can postulate that Niemecz calculated the flywheel of the 1793 instrument to go at c.60 revolutions per minute (a good and traditional clockish pace).(12)
But whether or not I am right about a Niemecz onpaper 60 rpm for the machine's flywheels, the tempo relationships of the pieces on all three machines' barrels are a constant - and it is interesting to see that the tempo range for pieces either minuet-like, in character or specifically called minuets (in available manuscripts or because of the music's original sources) roughly corresponds to the ranges of minuet tempos metronomized by Hummel and Czerny for Mozart - and by Czerny for Haydn.
For example, if we go from the 1792 clock's slow (perhaps spurious) Quail minuet' (a 'traditional' title, no manuscript source is available) to the 1793 clock's fast Minuetto allegretto from Haydn's'Clock'symphony, the ranges on the Niemecz mechanical organs, flywheel going at 6o, go from dotted minim = 36 to 72. The metronome marks of Czerny and Hummel for Mozart minuets go from dotted minim = 42 (Symphony no.29) to 88 (Symphony no-41).
The proportions remain the same - both Haydn-Niemecz and Mozart-Czerny increase from slowest to fastest by a factor of two, and there is no getting around the fact that both pieces of information describe a considerable range for minuet tempos - including quite fast Allegrettos.(13)
It is surely significant that at c.6o rpm for the 1793 machine's flywheel, the tempo of the Haydn Clock' Symphony's Menuetto Allegretto (Czerny marks it Allegro) is dotted minim = c.72, certainly reasonably close to Czerny's 76 for the same music. Even at 63 rpm the MM still comes out only to be 78, quite close to Czerny.
In his article Neumann cannot avoid having to deal with the Menuetto from Beethoven's Symphony no.1, which goes at a lively dotted minim = 108. He excuses it by calling it a scherzo in minuet clothing. Why not call it a minuet in minuet clothing?
Neumann further excuses this fast Beethoven minuet tempo, referring to the fast verbal tempo indications by Haydn for the minuets of his last eight quartets, by calling attention among other things to Beethoven's accompanying words to this Menuetto,'Allegro molto e vivace" saying that when Haydn [and, we presume, Beethoven] wanted a minuet to be played faster than the unhurried Allegretto, he unfailingly indicated his intentions with eloquent tempo words.But how do we know this to be so? (What about the 'hurried Allegretto'?) We have no way of telling whether a simple Menuetto marking by Haydn or anyone else indicates that a movement is to go slow, fast or somewhere in between.
There is no substance to Neumann's remark that the many minuets [of the classical masters] without tempo indications were understood to be in Tempo di menuetto - or in Allegretto - and that, we have seen, was anything but fast.' His statement is misleading: Tempo di menuetto'may have been anything but fast, but as we have seen, Allegretto tempos are a different matter.
Beyond the Czerny and Beethoven examples for quick Allegrettos I have cited above, Beethoven further gives us, in the 6/8 Allegretto agitato fourth movement of his F minor String Quartet, op.95, a tempo of dotted crotchet = 92, surely rather close to the dotted minim = 108 of the Menuetto of his Symphony no.l. However peculiarly Beethoven's seemingly contradictory words may strike us now, the tempos are nevertheless his - and are, again, anything but slow!
Rejecting what he considers to be the uncomfortably fast Czerny metronome mark of 96 per bar for Haydn's Symphony no.99, Neumann states that'this is certainly a fast minuet, beaten in one[; but] it seems [only] to call for a tempo of ca.66 for the dotted half-note to convey its commodious gemutlich spirit.' The fact is, though, that no one at present performs this minuet anywhere near 66. The common way with it is c.52 or slower, three-in-a-bar, as demonstrated on many commercial recordings. It appears that Neumann's conversion is taking place incrementally: he quietly begins to accept the concept of a one-in-a-bar tempo for a Haydn minuet marked Allegretto, and here he steps ten significant MM degrees ahead of Marty, whose fastest-ever tempo for a Menuetto Allegro is 56:
Neumann says that Czerny obviously' wanted to "Beethovenize' Haydn's minuet. Why? Looking at the proportional evidence from the Niemecz organs, one might just as well say that Beethoven's Symphony no.1 Menuetto had been 'Haydnized' - and one could say so the more properly chronologically, since Haydn was the earlier of the two composers to start describing quick tempos for his minuets.
But as long as Neumann has started his way upwards, why not climb all the way to 96? How is he ever otherwise to be able lo contemplate what Haydn's piece might sound like - how gemutlich the piece might or might not be - at Czerny's pace?
And must it be gemutlich? Is it obvious' that it must be so? It was obvious' to the speaker in the film version of Howard's End (who was talking about Meaning in Music') that Beethoven was depicting Goblins in the third movement of his Fifth Symphony. But perhaps Beethoven wasn't. Perhaps Haydn's Menuetto Allegretto isn't gemutlich after all - just diabolically spicy. We'll never know if'we don't try it at Czerny's tempo - which
also happens to be Beethoven's for his Scherzo.
Throughout history, otherwise unmarked minuets have been written in a number of time signatures, including 3/4, 6/8 and 3/8. Bach wrote all his in 3/4, though they are by no means all meant to go at one tempo. The same is true for the 3/4 minuets of Haydn and Mozart.
Contrarywise, Beethoven and other composers wrote music both in 3/4 and 6/8 meant to go at very similar tempos. Beyond the similar tempos for the 3/4 Menuetto of his Symphony no.1 and the 6/8 op.95 mentioned above, Beethoven has the Scherzo and Trio of his op.18 no.1, in 3/4, dotted minim = 112, go at the same tempo as the final 6/8 Prestissimo of op.18 no.6, dotted crotchet = 112. The rapid bowed quavers of the former become the rapid staccato semiquavers of the latter.
I mentioned in my original article that at its upper end the Minuet spills over into the very fast dance the Viennese called a Deutsche' or Teutch' (Mozart: Teitsch'). Gradually, not chronologically but simply musically, there is a point at which 3/8 and 3/4 draw close together. Why not then call the late Haydn and Mozart symphonic minuets and the fast minuets in the Mozart Quartets and Quintets, as metronomized by Czerny and Hummel, Teutches in minuet clothing' - if the word |minuet' alone is felt insufficient to stretch over the tempo area it covers?(14)
Overall, my object is not to build a system fully linking up tempos and tempo words. I simply wish to testify for the legitimacy of the kind of hard tempo evidence I have brought forward and to put it into practice, so that we can begin to renew a sensitivity to areas of stylized feeling from the past which have gradually dropped from view.
My essential points are that (1) to judge from a variety of sources including pendulum marks, timings, metronome marks and evidence from automatic mechanical instruments, the minuet, like the waltz and many other dances, has gone through history at a variety of simultaneous paces, some of which have been indeed quite fast. The point at which a minuet is no longer a minuet, but becomes a waltz or scherzo, is ultimately indefinable. Such words cover a wide tempo area, and pace Neumann, minuets have the right to express themselves as they see fit! especially since (2) actual speeds associated with any given set of tempo words also cover a large tempo area. Words such as Menuetto and Allegretto can mean a variety of things; it is often up to context alone to let us know what a specific set of words is telling us.
But a key part in the telling should be the small but significant number of actual past tempo measurements which have come down to us. we should put these marks to use, at least experimentally, as keys to a composer's, and a time's, expressive intentions. For otherwise how can we ever be sure whether Beethoven intends for us to see a horde of goblins - or a host of elephants?(15)
(1) F. Neumann, |How fast should Classical minuets be played?, Historical performance, iv (1991), pp-3-13. (2) W. Malloch, |Toward a "new" (old) minuet', Opus, i/5 1985), pp.14-21, 52. (3) W. Malloch, |Carl Czerny's metronome marks for Haydn and Mozart symphonies', Early music, xvi (1988), pp.72-82. (4) W. Malloch, |The Earl of Bute's machine organ: a touchstone of taste', Early music, xi (1983), pp.172-83; Malloch, |Toward a "new" old minuet', p.16. (5) C. Sachs, Rhythm and tempo (New York, 1953), pp.311-21; R. Kirkpatrick, |Eighteenth-century metronomic indications', Papers of the American Musicological Society, in (1938), pp-30-50; N. Zaslaw, |Mozart's tempo conversions, IMSCR II (Copenhagen 1972), p.720. (6) We might note that in the Mozart letter of 1770 cited by Neumann, the young composer was surprised that the Italians were dancing the minuet as slowly as they were. (And how slowly was that? Slower, in any case, than he was used to hearing it at home.) (7) Kellom Tomlinson, The art of dancing (London, 1735), p.106 (quoted by Neumann). (8) L'art de la musique mecanique, in, Collection Claude Marchal, face 2, band 10b; the Peter Strand organ is in Utrecht, Nationaal Museum van speelklok tot pierement. Historical metronome marks for waltzes are not as easy to trace as one might imagine. It would be interesting to find the earliest for Landler: they might not be as slow in many cases as the received tradition would have us believe. Today, for example, the German performing tradition for the Walzer from Act 1 of Weber's Der Freischutz (1821) is usually given to us at a |Landler-is' tempo of dotted minim = c.42. But this was not always the case. Weber's cataloguer, Friedrich Wilhelm Jahns, was given tempos for the opera in 1871 by Frau C. Seidler, the first Agathe, who sang it 91 times under Weber from 1837 on. Jahns's tempo is dotted minim = 80. (9) J.-P. Marty, The tempo indications of Mozart (New Haven, 1988). Neumann cites Marty's |very sensible' proposition that the Don Giovanni minuet be taken at crotchet = 96. What Neumann fails to point out is that this is the metronomization of Tomaschek, quoted in 1839 by the AMZ's editor Fink, based on the former's memory of the early Prague performances of Mozart's opera. Marty's tempo (he relegates Tomaschek to an appendix) is the same as a historical metronome mark of long standing - which he, too, finds sensible. However, Marty too easily determines that this tempo, derived from Tomaschek's for the associated Don Giovanni |Teitsch', now one-in-a-bar, is also appropriate for Mozart's German Dances, K509 - for it is almost impossible to play the music at this pace. (10) At present there is no way to check the slowest speed of the 1792 (Urban) instrument since it is in the hands of an unknown owner. My calculations for the tempo proportions of this instrument come from the Vox Turnabout recording of 1974 (TV 37085S), as in all probability do those of the Joseph Haydn-Institut, Cologne: see Haydn, Stucke fur das Laufwerk, ed. S. Gerlach and G. R. Hill, Joseph Haydn Werke, xxi (Munich, 1984). (11) In 1979 Wolfgang Teubner, owner of the undated organ, then in his seventies, told me he believed that when he was a boy the machine went somewhat more slowly than it does today. (12) The bellows of the undated instrument have deteriorated and must be operated by hand. At present this organ takes the pieces it has in common with the 1793 organ somewhat faster than they play on the latter instrument, The bellows of the 1793 instrument have been replaced. It is always possible that the replacement may have affected the machine's playing speed. It is true, though, that the organ of 1793 now plays no faster, in some cases somewhat more slowly, than it did when excerpts from it were originally recorded in 1932 (78 rpm Parlophone R1164; American Decca 20424). In its present state the undated Teubner organ must be rewound about every three pieces. The mechanism is much more unstable than that of the 1793 machine, and the flywheel goes at an initial 72-6 per minute, gradually slowing to c.58-60; It is likely that very similar sets of musical standards were used in the organs' construction. If one lines up the flywheel noises of the undated organ and the 1793 organ both to go at C.60 rpm, using a variable-speed tape recorder for the purpose, the tempos for the six pieces which they have in common are for all practical purposes the same (see table 3).
[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
(13) See the tempo spread for the proportional measurements of minuets in the tables of the Joseph Haydn-Institut, Cologne, under Tempo-relationen (Stucke fur das Laufwerk, p.64). Compare A.3, the |Quail' |minuet' on the 1792 organ - tempofaktor 1, 8 - with II.3, the Menuetto Allegretto from Haydn's |Clock' Symphony on the 1793 organ - Tempofaktor 3, 5: a 1.94 relationship. Were this range to be expanded to include other pieces on the three machines which could be construed to be one-in-a-bar minuets, including the Deutsche-like II.1, Allegretto, in 6/8 (dotted crotchet = 81), and I-5, Presto, in 3/8 (dotted crotchet = 84), the relationship could be expanded to 2.3. (14) As mentioned in n.9 above, Czerny's 96 to the bar for the Menuetto of Haydn's Symphony no.99 also happens to be the tempo Marty, via Mozart's Menuetto, via Tomaschek, chooses for the |Teitsch' in Don Giovanni - a tempo he then attempts to apply to Mozart's German Dances, K509. Though Neumann disputes Czerny's tempo for the Haydn he seems insensitive to Marty's applying the same tempo to the Mozart. Neumann calls Czerny's tempo |irrational', but one is no more so than the other. The probable reason he objects to Czerny's Haydn tempo is that the Haydn minuet is in 3/4, whereas the Mozart German Dances are in 3/8. This is not a solid enough reason for letting Marty's tempo pass and refusing to accept Czerny's. As I show in the main text and elsewhere, though one often thinks of 3/8 as being faster than 3/4, there are places where music in either time signature can be virtually identical in pace. (15) Some contrary material does come from c.1824 via Dr Crotch, who characteristically, in his search for |the Sublime', generally opts for slow tempos. His extremely slow paces for Handel were said by him to be typical of his period, a time well into mounting monster Handel performances. His paces for classical minuets are generally of the |Tempo di Menuetto' variety. For example, his mark of dotted minim = 53 (crotchet = 160) for Mozart's K593, though faster than it is often played today, is still a far cry from Czerny's 80! However, even Crotch, in his pendulum mark for the Menuetto from Haydn's Symphony no.74, at the equivalent of dotted minim = 66 (crotchet = 198), gives us an example of what Rudolph Kolisch (|Tempo and character in Beethoven's music', Musical quarterly, xxvii (1943), p.302), calls the |waltz-type minuet.' This is a particularly provocative tempo since the first part of the movement is full of reverse dots. It is ironic that it is just this minuet which Roy Goodman, in his 1990 period-instruments recording with the Hanover Band (Hyperion CDA 66520), has chosen to take at a |Crotch-like' pace (crotchet = 144; dotted minim = 48) - especially in view of his statement in the accompanying booklet that |The tempo markings which Hummel and Czerny gave to several Haydn symphonies have prompted me to reassess particularly the speed of Andante arid Minuet movements, which are nowadays ofteh performed much too slowly.' It is pleasant to report, on the other hand, that in Goodman's 1991 recording of the Clock' Symphony (Hyperion CDA 66528) the tempo of the Menuetto (dotted minim = c.72) is very close indeed to Czerny's and Niemecz's, something done for the first time on records. Crotch's tempos for Haydn minuets (Specimens, 1824, Lbm): Symphony no.69 in C, |Loudon': Minuetto. Allegro [Haydn: Menuetto], crotchet = 152 Symphony no.74 in E [character no conversion]: Minuetto. Allegretto [Haydn: Menuetto], dotted minim = 66 (crotchet = 198) Symphony no.76 in E [character no conversion]: Minuetto. Allegretto [Haydn: Menuetto], crotchet = 152 Quartet, op.2 no.2, in E: Minuetto. Allegro moderato [Haydn: Menuetto], crotchet = 116 Crotch's tempo for a Mozart minuet (London: L. Welsh, 18 - ): String Quintet in D, K593: Allegretto [Mozart: Menuetto Allegretto], crotchet = 160 [Czerny: dotted minim = 80]
William Malloch is on the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles. His interest in historical tempos led him to investigate mechanical instruments of the Baroque and Classical periods, a subject on which he has frequently published and broadcast.