If you thought Beethoven 250 was going to bring a glut of all the usual suspects to our concert halls… then you’re probably right! But amidst the profusion of symphonies, concertos and sonatas, a few orchestras and ensembles are looking beyond the obvious. For example, the LSO has just performed Christ on the Mount of Olives. So here, to demonstrate a bit more of Beethoven’s range, are ten of his more “unusual” compositions.

1Duo no. 1 in C major for clarinet and bassoon

You’ll see quite a few WoO numbers here – that’s “works without opus”, so unpublished during the composer’s lifetime. Grove describes Beethoven’s authorship of these three jolly duos for clarinet and bassoon as “spurious”, but don’t let that detract from some delightful chamber music.


2Sonatina for Mandolin and Piano in C major, WoO 44 no.1

Although best known as a fiery pianist, Beethoven also played the mandolin! He wrote six works for the instrument, including this perky sonatina.


3L'amante impaziente, Op.82 no.3

When Beethoven was studying with Salieri, he would sometimes be set composition tasks to write songs to texts by Metastasio. We don’t know if that’s how L'amante impaziente came to be composed but it’s interesting to hear Ludwig setting Italian text in buffo style.


4Birthday Cantata for Prince Lobkowitz, WoO 106

Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz was a great patron of Beethoven’s. Indeed, the Eroica Symphony received its first (private) performance at the Palais Lobkowitz. This cantata was composed to be sung by the prince’s children on their father’s birthday, 1816… a joyous occasion, you’d think, but it was never performed as Lobkowitz was taken seriously ill and died a few days later.


5Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage)

Whilst Mendelssohn’s overture Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt is relatively well known, Beethoven’s earlier cantata, based on a pair of poems by Goethe, is more rarely performed.


6March for Military Band no. 1 in F major, WoO 18 “Yorcksher Marsch”

This march is nothing to do with God’s own county, but is named after the Prussian general, Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg.


7“Joke” canon, Ta ta ta lieber Mälzel, WoO 162

Beethoven didn’t just wear a scowl. Here he is in jocular mood, with a canon that ticks away like the metronome, invented by Johann Nepomuk Maelzel. Recognise the tune? Beethoven used it in his Eighth Symphony.


8Funeral March no. 1

The most famous Beethoven work not composed by Beethoven? Played at King Edward VII’s funeral in 1910, and at the wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph every year on Remembrance Sunday, the Funeral March no. 1 was actually written by Johann Heinrich Walch.


9Symphony no.10 in E flat major

How many symphonies did Beethoven compose? Nine? He left sketches which were clearly destined to be employed in a tenth. Musicologist Barry Cooper assembled the first movement based on these 250 bars of sketches. How convincing is it? Judge for yourself.


10Wellington’s Victory, Op.91

Not exactly his rarest work, but often cited as one of Beethoven’s worst, Wellington’s Victory is a noisy “battle symphony” to commemorate the Duke of Wellington's victory not over Napoleon at Waterloo (as many people think) but over Bonaparte’s older brother Joseph at the Battle of Vitoria, Spain, 1813.