- Title: UK: Unique Beethoven manuscript has sold for nearly two million U.S. dollars
- Date: 2nd December 2005
- Summary: (L!1)LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (DECEMBER 01 2005) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR VIEW OF SOTHEBY'S AUCTION HOUSE POTENTIAL BIDDER LOOKING AT A BEETHOVEN MANUSCRIPT VARIOUS VIEWS OF THE BEETHOVEN MANUSCRIPT AS MAN FLIPPING THE PAGES POTENTIAL BIDDER LOOKING AT MANUSCRIPT AUCTION IN PROGRESS BIDDERS TALKING THE PHONE TO POTENTIAL BUYERS BIDDERS LOOKING AT THE AUCTION CATALOGUE BEETHOVEN MANUSCRIPT PRESENTED AT AUCTION AUCTIONEER TAKING BIDS FOR THE MANUSCRIPT BIDDER ON THE PHONE AUCTIONEER ANNOUNCING THE FINAL PRICE FOR THE MANUSCRIPT SCREEN SHOWING LOT 11 WITH THE FINAL PRICE OF THE BEETHOVEN MANUSCRIPT MORE AUCTION IN PROGRESS BIDDERS LOOKING AT CATALOGUE OTHER ITEM AUCTIONED (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. STEPHEN ROE, HEAD OF SOTHEBY'S BOOK DIVISION IN EUROPE, SAYING: "Well the whole auction was very exciting, it was one of the most valuable music auctions we ever had in Sotheby's. And we had some really great prices, the Schumann symphony went for over 300,000 pounds and the great Beethoven manuscript made, well, 1,128,000 pounds so we are really pleased with that- it's a great result". PAINTING OF MUSIC NOTES ON THE WALL (SOUNDBITE) (English) STEPHEN ROE SAYING: "It was a lot manuscript, it was a very beautiful manuscript, that we could learn so much about, it was one of the pieces of Beethoven, it was a piano duet version of it, it wasn't the string quartet that everyone knows, but its certainly going to show us how Beethoven developed in his last years as a composer". EXTERIOR VIEW OF SOTHEBY'S
- Embargoed: 17th December 2005 12:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVA589OKLM9242NII2P7UTECKKJS
- Story Text: A unique manuscript by Ludwig van Beethoven that was
lost for more than a century was sold at auction on
Thursday for 1.13 million British pounds (1.95 million in
U.S. dollars) to an anonymous buyer.
The final price was at the low end of the pre-sale
estimates of up to 1.5 million pounds. The record price for
a Beethoven manuscript, of 2.13 million pounds, was set by
the composer's Ninth Symphony in May 2003.
"It was a lot manuscript, it was a very beautiful
manuscript, that we could learn so much about, it was one
of the pieces of Beethoven, it was a piano duet version of
it, it wasn't the string quartet that everyone knows, but
its certainly going to show us how Beethoven developed in
his last years as a composer," said Dr Stephen Roe, the
head of Sotheby's Europe book division.
Discovered in July at the bottom of a dusty filing
cabinet at a religious school in Philadelphia, the
manuscript sold on Thursday is a work in progress for the
Grosse Fuge in B flat major -- one of Beethoven's most
Not only is the 80-page document a working manuscript
for the only piano version of a major work by Beethoven, it
is one of his few compositions for a piano duet.
Sotheby's said it was the most important Beethoven
manuscript to have come to market in living memory and
would prompt a complete reassessment of the German
It is the second time very rare musical documents have
been found by chance at the former Eastern Baptist
Theological Seminary -- now renamed the Palmer Theological
Seminary. A Mozart manuscript was discovered there in 1990.
Beethoven, who continued to work as he went slowly
deaf, wrote the work in 1826 -- one year before his death
-- as the finale for his String Quartet in B flat major.
The piece is notoriously difficult to perform and,
because it was musically far ahead of its time, did not
immediately sit well with audiences either.
The manuscript is written in brown and black ink and
includes annotations in pencil and red crayon.
Music scholars have welcomed it as breath of fresh air,
clearly illustrating the working methods and thought
processes of a musical genius.
The document contains multiple deletions and
corrections and has places where the paper is rubbed
through as Beethoven continuously tried and rejected
Because it is so obviously a working document, it is
not easy to read and has no printer's marks. Sotheby's said
it was clear this was not the finished version and as such
would give deep insight when compared with the published
The manuscript was last at auction in 1890 -- first in
Paris in May of that year and then again in Berlin in
October, from where it is believed it was taken to the
United States and lost to view.
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