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Name of Work

Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827)
Sextet for two Clarinets, two Bassoons and two Horns in E-flat Major, Op. 71

Menuetto: Quasi allegretto
Rondo: Allegro


Oct 15, 1989

Larry Combs, Clarinet
Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Bruce Grainger, Bassoon
Deborah Sobol, Piano
Gail Williams, Horn
Felicia Foland, Bassoon
Daniel Gingrich, Horn
Jerry Grossman, Cello
Bradley Opland, Double bass
Gregory Smith, Clarinet
Susan Synnestvedt, Violin

BEETHOVEN - Sextet for Two Clarinets, Two Bassoons, and Two Horns in E-flat Major, Op71

Composed in 1810

If, in the second part of his life, Beethoven concentrated heavily on chamber music for strings, much of his early chamber music involves woodwinds—sometimes with strings, like the Septet, one of his most popular works during his lifetime, and sometimes with piano, like the Horn Sonata and the E-flat Quintet. Works for winds alone include an Octet and a Rondino for pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons; a Trio in C for two oboes and English horn; and one further work for that rather odd combination, a set of variations on "Là ci darem la mano" from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Another all-winds work dating from the 1790's—when Beethoven was in transi¬tion between his apprentice years in Bonn and his first achievements in Vienna—is a Sextet in E-flat for two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons. It was not performed until 1805, at which time a reviewer cited its "lively melodies, unaccustomed harmonies, and a wealth of new and surprising ideas."

The Sextet was published in 1810, Beethoven describing it at that time as "one of my earlier things, and moreover written in a single night… it is the work of an author who has done at least a few better things." The subsequent discovery and study of his sketchbooks has shown that the Sextet was by no means written in one night, and that, like other music of the first Vienna years, it probably had its origins quite a bit earlier. As for the claim of "better things," there are certainly many Beethoven works on a much larger scale, with more intricately plotted thematic, harmonic, and contrapuntal relationships. The Sextet, even without the full measure of these attributes, has to recommend it a congenial sense of dialogue among friendly instruments, and a number of those delightful tunes noted by the anonymous critic.

Program Notes by Andrea Lamoreaux

Performed Oct 15, 1989

Performance Audio

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