Ludwig van Beethoven

Canon in 4 parts in C major ("Gedenket heute an Baden"), WoO 181/1

    Description by John Palmer

    In Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm's Das Werk Beethovens: Thematisch-bibliographisches Verzeichnis seiner sämtlichen vollendeten Kompositionen (Beethoven's Work: A Thematic and Bibliographic List of his Completed Compositions) of 1955, "Gedenket heute an Baden!" is grouped with "Gehabt euch wohl" and "Tugend ist kein leerer Name" as WoO 181, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively. All three were most likely composed in 1820. "Gedenket heute an Baden!" was first printed in 1888 as part of the Complete Edition of Beethoven's Works, published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel as the fourth of Fünf Canons (Five Canons). Sketches for the three canons are among those for the Missa Solemnis.

    Although Beethoven studied the composition of canons with Albrechtsberger in 1794-5, the vast majority of his canons date from after 1813, at which time contrapuntal procedures seem to have become something of an obsession for Beethoven. None of them was intended for publication; rather, there were generally gifts for friends, usually of a humorous nature. Many of the humorous texts were by Beethoven himself; this was probably the case with "Gedenket heute an Baden!" (Remember Baden Today), which is a puzzle canon. Baden is a small town just south of Vienna where Beethoven occasionally enjoyed the sulfur baths.

    It seems Beethoven's friends enjoyed puzzle canons, in which the composer writes only one voice and leaves it for the performer to discover where the other voices should enter. There may be several solutions, as is the case with "Gedenket heute an Baden!"--one or more of which the composer may not have anticipated, so it is difficult to know exactly how many voices Beethoven intended. The published solutions for "Gedenket heute an Baden!" however, seem quite clear, for they produce a strict canon at the unison. Beethoven's composition of a predictable, rhythmically repetitive melody with a narrow range makes the solution a little less difficult.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    1996 Berlin Classics 0091322
    Brilliant 93525/79
    Cascade Records 2268