Sixième / SINFONIE / Pastorale / en fa majeur / F DUR / de / Louis van Beethoven / Oeuvre 68. Partition. Octavo. Title lithographed, engraved music. Title (v.b.); 1–188 pp. [PN] 4311. Price given as 3 Thlr. Ownership stamp in lower margin of first page of score: Bibliothèque de E. de Coussemaker. Book plate to inner front board, from the library of Percy Digby Hawker, dated by hand April 1877, with initial A., possibly for auction of Coussemaker's library that year in Brussels. Light foxing throughout, mostly affecting the margins. Instrumentation lightly written in pencil in unidentified hand on second page, else clean. Original period boards and marbled flyleaves, nicely rebacked in brown leather with gold titling. A generally fine copy. Kinsky-Halm, 163; Fuld, 560; Hoboken, 304; Hirsch IV, 311.
“The Sixth Symphony… was composed almost wholly in 1808, and was completed by late summer of that year. Like the Fifth Symphony, it was jointly dedicated to Lobkowitz and Razumovsky…The return to Nature is on the surface of this “characteristic” or genre symphony, which is entitled “Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life” on the autograph score… This innocent work is exceptional in Beethoven’s output… As many have observed, in composing the Pastoral Symphony Beethoven was not anticipating Romantic program music but rather was continuing in the Baroque pastoral tradition, as manifested in many works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and more particularly in Haydn’s two oratorios.” (Solomon: Beethoven, pp. 205-206) Few premières have acquired the fame of Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, a famous four-hour concert in Vienna on December 22, 1808. The first movement, entitled Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the countryside (‘Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande’), emphasized Beethoven's statement that the symphony is “more an expression of feeling that a painting.” But the symphonic effects evoking birdsong, the small-town brass band, thunder, lightning, and shepherd's song, represent program music at its best.“To the end of his life Beethoven was a lover of the country. Thus he earns a good mark which history does not award to Bach, Handel, Mozart, Berlioz, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner and Brahms. It was a love that went deeper than the townsman's delight in pretty places and fresh air.… In the presence of field, trees and hills Beethoven felt himself nearer to the spirit of divine things than he did among men and buildings; and his art responded in like degree, for it was during his lonely rambles that his inspiration came most fluently and his compositions most readily assumed their nature and course” (Grove I, 556).
The present copy of first edition of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony formed part of the personal library of over 1,600 items—including first edition print scores, manuscripts, and musical instruments—of the prolific medievalist and musicologist Charles-Edmond-Henri de Coussemaker, whose scholarship encompassed chant, liturgical drama, early polyphony, the history of music notation, and music theory.