3 Pieces for a Mechanical Clockwork (Drei Stucke nach Komposition fur ein mechanisches Laufwerk) by Ludwig van Beethoven
Edited for 4 C Flutes by Henner Eppel
Flutes 1, 2 and 3 read off separate parts; Flute 4 reads from a score.
These three pieces (Hess catalogue numbers 103, 104 and 105) were written in 1799 for the mechanical clockworks of Muller's Art Cabinet, which was maintained in Vienna by a certain Count Deym (Muller was his pseudonym). This “cabinet” was a sort of art exhibition containing wax figures made by Deym himself, plaster busts and statues patterned after ancient models, antique bronzes, pieces of carved ivory, easel paintings and – mechanical orchestras.
The heart of these musical automats is a roll covered with protuberances which, rather than tripping metal reeds (in the manner of a music box), open valves, thereby releasing the air supplied by a system of bellows and sounding one or more pipes.
Not only Beethoven but W. A. Mozart too received commissions to write music for these mechanical “objets d'art.” Far from shrinking from the opportunity, they may well have taken pleasure in the exact working out of their ideas.
In the present edition the pieces have been transposed in keeping with the range of the flutes (Adagio originally in F Major, Scherzo in G Major, Allegro in C Major). Slight deviations, octave displacements and the like have been made with great caution so as to obtain as unified a sound as possible.