Beethoven’s manuscript discovered in Pennsylvania

Manuscript by Ludwig van Beethoven. Grand fugue. Estimate €1,700,000–2,600,000. Musical Manuscripts, Sotheby’s, December 1

On December 1 an auction house Sotheby’s will hold Musical Manuscripts sale featuring handwritten musical score by great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827). The unique document was found incidentally while inventorying a seminary library near Philadelphia.

The great composer created his «Grand fugue» during his last days, when he was already deaf. It was thought to become a final part for a string quartet. The musical score discovered in Pennsylvania is a fugue variation for two pianos. It is written in brown and black ink, and has a great number of Beethoven’s corrections and marginal notes made in red pencil. The fugue is scripted on different types of paper, and somehow reveals development and changes of the author’s thoughts. There are many scratches and scrapes on the paper – the composer, probably wanted to erase the previously written. One may notice fingerprints of Beethoven on the paper as well. Some fragments of the score are papered, and new variants are written over them.

The exceptional score was exhibited in public for a last time at an auction in Berlin more than 115 years ago. Allegedly, the musical score was acquired by an American businessman-industrialist William Howard Doan – an amateur anthems composer. In 1952 his daughter donated Doan’s musical score archive to Pennsylvania seminary.
According to Sotheby’s experts, the «Grand fugue» manuscript will fetch from €1,700,000 to €2,600,000.

The auctioned collection at the Musical Manuscripts sale will also feature other manuscripts by famous composers – for instance, a part of Bach’s «Cantata» that considered to be lost long ago. The pre-sale estimate of that lot is ₤40,000–60,000.

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Published in: on November 22, 2005 at 5:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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