Romance No. 2 in F Major, op. 50

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        By the late 1790s Beethoven had been in Vienna about six years, and was enjoying a growing reputation both as a virtuoso pianist and as a composer. While he had written some piano concertos for his own use, he had confined his compositional activities to more modest works. A dozen piano sonatas and chamber music constituted the bulk, including the famous Pathétique sonata. He also was hard at work on his first string quartets, the op. 18 set. The monumental symphonies and concertos lay ahead. But in keeping with his growing interest in writing for larger ensembles, and observing the growing interest in instrumental romances, Beethoven wrote two of them for violin and orchestra. The first one was probably composed around 1798, and—since it was published after its companion in G major from about 1802—is the Romance No. 2 in F major.

        The work is in a single movement and follows one of the two typical schemes for romances—a rondo, that is--a main section interspersed with two contrasting ones, ending with the original material. The soloist begins immediately with the winsome melody, soon taken up by the orchestra. Some strong dotted rhythms in the accompaniment mark the end of the first section, and it’s on to the contrasting material— a bit more active with a hint of the minor mode. The familiar opening solo soon returns, again ending with the dotted rhythms. The second diversion modulates to some fresh and interesting keys, taking its time to finally wend its way back to the main theme. Again, the dotted rhythms signal the end and the advent of a modest coda. All in all, it's a most delightful example of a Beethoven relatively young in years, but already sophisticated in musical style.

--Wm. E. Runyan 

© 2015 William E. Runyan