Beethoven's piano sonata Op. 2 No. 3, first movement, bars 179-180 (Henle edition). Beethoven Op 2 No 3 bars 179-180

The turn decorating each eighth note can be played literally. Except for the one on bar 179's A sharp, because there's no good candidate for that turn's lower auxiliary note. G natural is too low. G sharp is harmonically bogus. G double sharp is Chopin, not Beethoven.

So should the B - A sharp with turn be instead simplified into a B with turn, where A sharp is the lower auxiliary?

Should the dozen similar instances also be simplified thus?

I prefer arguments stronger than so-and-so recorded it like such-and-such.

Edit: A turn with a tiny sharp underneath occurs in bar 27 and in bar 161, both in the Henle and in the first edition (p. 32 bottom, p. 36 middle; although here the sharp is above, not underneath). Had Beethoven wanted the Casella interpretation, he would have notated it that way too: a quarter note B with a turn plus sharp. So we can't explain the Casella as a modernization of an archaic spelling.

  • 1
    Hehe... "G double sharp is Chopin, not Beethoven" made me smile. :-)
    – pr1268
    Dec 29, 2018 at 7:16

3 Answers 3


Take a look at the first edition: http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/b/b1/IMSLP51972-PMLP01414-Beethoven_-_Piano_Sonata_No.3_(Artaria).pdf

Beethoven Op2 n3 mvtI m179

Inverted symbol but of course it's not an inverted turn.

Now take a look at edition Casella 1919 http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/8/81/IMSLP68708-PMLP01414-Opus_2_no_3.pdf The figure is to be played as noted here.Beethoven Op2 n3 mvtI m179 edition Casella 1919

  • Camille it’s probably Beethoven’s shorthand for what Casella has notated. Dec 29, 2018 at 18:49
  • 2
    Why would Casella be a credible source? In 1919 Beethoven was long dead and HIP hadn’t been invented, leading to a lot of truly horrible editions. Why is Casella an exception? Additionally, the turn on the lower note being a shorthand is absolute nonsense since you get exactly what Casella notates if you turn the first of each four eighth note group into a quarter and put the turn on the second half which would be just as short (or arguably shorter) yet not ambiguous.
    – 11684
    Dec 30, 2018 at 9:48
  • (For some readers: HIP means en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historically_informed_performance) Dec 30, 2018 at 21:40
  • At first glance, to my ears I hear of what is in Henle and the 1st ed. as what you have described, quarter turn, eighth eighth. The chromatically altered lower neighbor has the turn symbol; the short hand we use today is a small accidental under the turn symbol. Next time I'm at the Beethoven Center I'll have to enquire about the figure. Dec 30, 2018 at 23:18
  • 2
    This is fascinating. I don’t know anything about the believability of Casella, but it’s intriguing that their version does create a textbook example of a turn, but it’s a turn ornamenting the first note rather than the second. It doesn’t seem like a completely implausible interpretation, but I agree that I’d want more documentation. Jan 1, 2019 at 17:57

Shai Wosner takes the turns as given by Casella. But Paavali Jumppanen treats each turn as if the note it's with is the turn's principal note. He plays G double sharp.


Beethoven goofed. It's up to individual taste whether to play Casella's triplets or literal turns. But at a fast enough tempo and with some pedal, the unbeethovenian G double sharp can be tolerably overlooked in the resulting flurry.

  • I'm letting this answer stand, merely to see how many downvotes it accumulates. The absence of comments suggests that the reason is nothing more than insulting Ludwig Van. Nov 1, 2019 at 2:56

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