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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

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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