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Beethoven’s Tempo Indications by Marten Noorduin

January 29, 2017

Marten Noorduin has published an extensive study of Beethoven’s approach to tempo in Beethoven’s Tempo Indications, a thesis submitted to the University of Manchester for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Humanities, 2016. 


Abstract: Beethoven’s Tempo Indications

Beethoven’s tempo indications have been the subject of much scholarly debate, but a coherent understanding of his intended tempos has not yet emerged. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, some of the discussion has been based on unreliable sources, or an unrepresentative sample of sources. Secondly, the substantial differences between tempo preferences in the early nineteenth century and now has made these tempo indications difficult to approach for musicians in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Thirdly, discussions of Beethoven’s tempo have typically focused on works in one particular genre.

This thesis overcomes these limitations by incorporating all of Beethoven’s works, and rooting the whole research in a wide variety of sources from the eighteenth and nineteenth century that have a plausible relationship with Beethoven’s practice. In particular the metronome marks by Beethoven, as well as those from his close contemporaries Carl Czerny, Ignaz Moscheles, and Karl Holz, provide great insight into the composer’s sense of tempo. By using as many sources on Beethoven’s tempo as possible, this approach makes reasonable estimations of the actual speeds that Beethoven had in mind for his works. Furthermore, it also allows an exploration of the musical intuitions that are the root cause of these speeds.


The thesis can be downloaded from

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