Lot 1
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Beethoven, Ludwig van

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • Remarkable autograph sketchleaf for the String Quartet in C, op.59 no.3, the second movement, [1806]
  • paper
a closely-written and intensively-filled leaf, notated in dark brown ink on sixteen staves per page, with many alterations, deletions and revisions, including music written in the margins on hand-drawn extensions to the printed staves, comprising around a hundred bars of music in all, all apparently for the second movement of the string quartet, mainly in single instrumental lines, occasionally with two staves running together, representing an evidently very early stage of composition, with a few annotations ("Vi...de"; "2te[s] mal Vcello [?]morendo"),

2 pages, oblong 4to (c.22.2 x 30cm), 16-stave paper (total span=190mm), top part of a fleur-de-lis watermark visible [Tyson (1982), paper 4, quadrant 2], [Vienna, 1806], margins trimmed, slightly affecting text, three tiny pin-holes, apparently relating to the stave-drawing rather than stitching


Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858), who is known to have acquired similar leaves at the auction of Beethoven's effects in 1827 (cf Beethoven Werkverzeichnis, p.329, no.8).


A. Tyson, 'The "Razumovsky" Quartets. Some Aspects of the Sources', in Beethoven Studies, volume 3 (1982), pp.107-140; D. Johnson, A. Tyson & R. Winter, The Beethoven Sketchbooks (1985), pp.524-526; K. Dorfm├╝ller, N. Gertsch & J. Ronge, Ludwig van Beethoven. Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis (2014), p.329, no.9.


Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This is a remarkable and spectacular manuscript. It shows Beethoven working intensively on one of the most significant chamber works from his celebrated "middle" period. The Third "Razumovsky" quartet, op.59 no.3, appears amidst the epoch-making series of works represented by Beethoven's opus numbers from op.55 to op.61, comprising the "Eroica" Symphony, the Triple Concerto, the "Appassionata" Sonata, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the three "Razumovsky" Quartets, the Fourth Symphony and the Violin Concerto. Few sketches survive for this lengthy slow movement and this one has been little studied (although mentioned by Alan Tyson in 1982). All the music appears to relate to the second movement ['Andante con moto quasi Allegretto'], foreshadowing throughout the style and rhythms of the final version, in 6/8 time, but with few exact concordances (and not at the same pitches). There are rarely any instrumental designations, except for occasional clefs. It is as if Beethoven is thoroughly exploring the figurations and melodic shapes of the movement, before arriving at the harmonic and overall tonal scheme, or even the opening melodies. For example, the chromatic viola part at bars 28ff can be found at the beginning of the first page, immediately following some particularly intense crossing-out, but not at the same pitch. Six staves below this, extending into the right hand margin, there is an early sketch of the first violin's semi-quavers (bars 118-124). At the beginning of the second page we find a sketch of the repeated cadential figure in semiquavers (cf. bars 21ff.) and, three staves below, the syncopated figures found in the violin and cello at bars 85ff, but without the instrumentation being specified.  

Beethoven seems not to have used a sketchbook for his work on the "Razumovsky" String Quartets, but instead worked on single leaves like this one. Johnson, Tyson and Winter record some twenty-five loose sketch-leaves for the op.59 quartets in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, observing that none ever formed part of a sketchbook. Nearly all those for op.59 no.3 are on similar 16-stave paper with a fleur-de-lis watermark, as here. However, "the slow movement is poorly represented" (Tyson, p.121): a single page at the Royal College of Music in London, and a cut-down leaf sold in these rooms (21 May 21 1999, lot 24; and at Christie's 21 November 2012, lot 35), the script of which looks rather similar to the present manuscript.