[God Save The King] Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770–1827)
Variations pour le Piano-Forte sur le Thême God save the King...No. 25. [WoO 78]
Offenbach s/M: Jean André. [ca. 1805].
Oblong folio. Disbound. [i] (title), 3-9, [i] (blank) pp. Lithographed. [PN] 2097. Price: "45xr." Ownership signature to title lower right "Sendor," and stamp "ER" below publisher's imprint. Title and final leaf separated, heavily worn around the edges, small worming holes through score to upper right corner, scattered foxing and light staining. An early edition, published the year following the first edition. Uncommon. WorldCat recording only two copies, both in Germany.
The Variations on God Save the King and on Rule Britannia were written in 1803 and offered to Breitkopf und Härtel and, by Ferdinand Ries, to Simrock. They were published the following year by the Kunst- und Industrie Comptoir. Apparent reference to these variations is made in a letter written by Beethoven, in French, to an unknown correspondent, thought to be either Pleyel in Paris or George Thomson in Edinburgh, publishers with whom he had business. Je vous envoie ci-joint, he writes, des variations sur 2 thèmes anglais qui sont bien faciles et qui à ce que j'espère auront un bons succès (I send you herewith some variations on two English themes that are very easy and which, as I hope, will have good success). The intention of providing something suitable for the amateur market is clear. In 1803, the year of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, there was an uneasy lull in hostilities between Britain and France, after earlier enforced Austrian agreement with Napoleon. It was in the following near that the First Consul had himself crowned Emperor, to Beethoven's dismay. Soon hostilities were to be resumed with a coalition of countries ranged against the new Emperor, whose forces were to occupy Vienna. The Variations on God Save the King, a work that had impressed Haydn in London and inspired his own Emperor's Hymn, presents its theme simply enough and continues with a variation of running notes, followed by rapider treatments of the material in semiquavers, syncopated and broken up. The fifth variation moves into an expressive minor key, followed by a brisk march and a final extended variation that breaks off into an Adagio, before the display of the concluding Allegro.