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Manuscript Fetches $1.72M

Published: December 2, 2005 (Issue # 1127)


LONDON A working manuscript of Ludwig van Beethovens Grosse Fuge has been sold for $1.72 million to an anonymous buyer, Sothebys auctioneers said.

Sothebys described the manuscript, discovered in a Pennsylvania seminary library, as an astounding and important discovery and possibly the most substantial manuscript of a Beethoven work to come up for sale in more than a century.

The buyer, who bid by telephone, paid $1.95 million, including the buyers premium, Sothebys said. It declined to say where the buyer was based.

The manuscript was only known from a brief description in a catalogue in 1890 and it has never before been seen or described by Beethoven scholars, said Stephen Roe, head of Sothebys manuscript department.

Its rediscovery will allow a complete reassessment of this extraordinary music.

The 80-page manuscript is a piano duet version (opus 134) of the last movement of Beethovens string quartet in B flat (opus 130), which was first performed in 1826, a year before his death.

The Grosse Fuge, composed as part of a commission from Prince Nikolay Golitsyn of St. Petersburg, was originally published as the finale of the string quartet.

Because players found the music so difficult the publisher asked for a simpler version, and the Grosse Fuge was then published separately (opus 133).

The piano manuscript was rediscovered earlier this year by librarian Heather Carbo at the Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., just outside Philadelphias city limits.

The manuscript is full of clues to Beethovens composition process. It is written in brown and black ink, sometimes over pencil and includes later annotations in pencil and red crayon. There is evidence of deletions, corrections, deep erasures, smudged alterations and several pages pasted over the original.

The extent of Beethovens working and reworking on the manuscript suggests that the composer accorded it great significance and leads to the suggestion that he may have given the four-hand version equal standing with the better-known quartet version, Sothebys catalogue said.

University of Pennsylvania musicologist Jeffrey Kallberg, who authenticated the manuscript, said it was in pristine condition because it has not been touched or moved for so many decades.

Its a very important discovery, he said. This was a controversial and not understood work because it was so ahead of its time. It sounds like it was written by a dissonant 20th century composer.

The manuscript was last mentioned in an 1890 auction catalogue from Berlin. The buyer is not documented, but seminary officials believe it was industrialist and composer William Howard Doane.

His daughter, Marguerite Treat Doane, in 1950 donated a collection of documents, including musical manuscripts that likely included the Beethoven, to pay for the construction of a chapel.

In all the Beethoven literature, its described as lost, said Roe. There are lots of alterations, changes, revisions that no one has ever seen.

It was the second major musical discovery at the seminary, which is part of Eastern University.

Manuscripts by Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, Meyerbeer and Spohr, also given by Doane, were found in a safe in 1990.

The proceeds from the sale of the Grosse Fuge will be used to pay the seminarys debts, build up the scholarship program and expand programs, the school said.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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