Beethoven Romance Nº 1 in G Op 40: Transcribed for Cello

Duration: 7-8 minutes
Difficulty Level: 6/10

In the original key, several passages of this violin piece lie quite high for the cello. But transposing it into a lower key is impractical because of the low-register double-stopped passages which constitute some of its main thematic material. These double-stops require the use of the open strings, which means that the only possible transposition would be down a fifth. But if we were to do this, those thematic doublestops would be played on the G and C strings, which would make the piece sound like a comical “elephant romance” rather than the beautiful and profound song that it is. Therefore we basically have no choice but to play this piece in its original key: the “Performance” version maintains the high passages whereas the “Easier” version takes them down another octave.

In the “Performance Versions,” some of the doublestopped passages have been slightly modified in order to make them more playable on the cello. These modifications are more significant in the “Easier Version”. To make an even easier version, we could remove the lower voice of the double stops and give those notes to the piano, but this has not been done here. Eliminating the double stops (as we have done in many other violin pieces by giving the lower notes to the piano) would be unreasonable in this piece for anything other than the very easiest cello version because here the doublestops constitute the principal theme and, what’s more, are played unaccompanied.

The opening theme sounds very much as though it starts on the first beat of the bar although it actually starts on the third beat. This curious situation, similar to that of a Gavotte (but with a totally different mood) continues until bar 21 and then returns again when the first theme comes back in bars 36-56 and again from bar 75 to the end. In fact, so much of this Romanza seems to have this characteristic that it could almost be written out entirely with the barlines displaced by two beats (so that it would start on the first beat of the bar).

  1.   Edited Performance Version
  2.   Clean Performance Version
  3.   Easier Version
  4.   Literal Transcription

The piano accompaniment part is identical to that of the original violin version, but it is offered here also:

  1.   Piano Score