a working manuscript written in brown ink on sixteen staves per page, mainly on two-stave systems, containing several distinct passages, including a version of the main theme of the Finale of the Piano Trio Op.1 no.3, with, on the verso, a composing draft of the conclusion of the Wind Octet Op.103, a passage of some forty-four bars extending over ten staves, the lower half of the page also containing a series of intensively-worked sketches for an unidentified work, with revisions, deletions and alterations, the manuscript annotated by the composer with various titles and references ("Seite 1000"; "Mineur"; "h moll", "c moll", "3mal"; "imitation") and performance markings ("3mal"; "tremolo"; "cres")
2 pages, oblong 4to (c.23 x 30cms), 16-stave paper, watermarked "PS", with a note of provenance by the French composer Ambroise Thomas ("Cette feuille est de la main de Beethoven, elle m'a été donnée par Mr Fischof professeur du conservatoire de Vienne. Ambroise Thomas, Vienne 8bre 1845 [or 1849]", discreet stamp in mauve ink ("VS" in a circle), [Vienna, c.1792-1793], crease in lower left-hand corner, a little foxing, small holes in lower margin, right-hand edge irregularly cut, otherwise in good condition
This is an unknown and unrecorded sketchleaf dating from Beethoven's first year in Vienna; it is the earliest Beethoven manuscript to have appeared at auction for many years.
It contains the first known sketches for the wind octet and much previously unknown music possibly dating from his youth in Bonn. The manuscript contains a large number of unidentified themes and ideas, Beethoven using the leaf like a commonplace book for his early musical thoughts. It is thus a highly unusual and important source.
Beethoven's autographs from this early period are extremely rare. Many early sketches are lost: it was only in 1798 that Beethoven began to stitch his sketches together in order to preserve them. Many of the earlier, loose sketchleaves are lost: Johnson, Tyson and Winter estimate that fewer than half have survived. The manuscript is written on the earliest type of paper known to have been used by Beethoven in Vienna, one found also in the two main collections of surviving loose sketchleaves, the "Kafka" miscellany (British Library, Add ms. 29801) and the "Fischhof" miscellany (Berlin State Library, Autograph 28). This important new manuscript is connected with both miscellanies, suggesting that they once formed a single collection. A sketch in the present manuscript relates to a piece found in the "Kafka" miscellany, while Beethoven's annotations and references ("Seite 1000" etc.) connects with some in the "Fischhoff" miscellany.
The longest musical passage, some forty-four bars in all, comprises a single continuous draft in short score of the end of the Wind Octet in E flat Op.103, an early version of bars 182-223. This would appear to be the only known sketch for this work, which was previously thought to date from the end of Beethoven's Bonn period, although it was not published until after his death in 1830. On the verso, there is system-brace covering eight staves, prepared for a score of the Wind Quintet in E flat: i.e. with the clefs and appropriate key signatures for two horns, two oboes, two clarinets and two bassoons, an indication that Beethoven intended to score part or all of the Octet on this paper.
The other important work here is the Piano Trio Op.1 no 3, in C minor, the characteristic "stormy" key of early Beethoven. The Trio originated in a piece for piano solo sketched here, which already features the main theme of the last movement. The same piano piece is also found on folio 139 of the "Kafka" miscellany (there identified by Joseph Kerman as a "Rondo in C minor"). As in the Trio, the main theme modulates to the foreign key of B minor and then C minor. In the Piano Trio, this 15-bar passage can be found at Letter Cc (bars 358-365ff), still retaining the striking key change to B minor.
Beethoven moved from Bonn to Vienna in November 1792. Commenting on the surviving sketchleaves from the period 1792-1793, Douglas Johnson observes that there is an unusually high percentage of short ideas for dances, keyboard exercises and themes that Beethoven never pursued. "One suspects that the crowded entries on some of the early leaves may actually be compilations of material copied from elsewhere, a sort of salvage process which could account for the numbers of such leaves just preceding and following the move from Bonn to Vienna" (p.514). It is likely that some of the unidentified music here dates from this early Bonn period.
We are happy to acknowledge the assistance of Dr Nicholas Marston in our cataloguing of this manuscript.
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