Octavo. Title lithographed, engraved music. Title (v.b.); 1–182 pp. [PN] 4302. Original period boards and marbled flyleaves, nicely rebacked in brown leather with gold titling. Somewhat browned with scattered foxing throughout. Small tear along right edge of title page, else fine. Kinsky-Halm, 160; Fuld, 557; Hoboken, 302. 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.
This is the first edition of the score of arguably the most famous symphony in the entire repertoire. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony has been known variously as the Fate Symphony and the Victory Symphony, and played as the signature work in the inaugural concerts of several symphony orchestras since its famous première in a four-hour concert in Vienna on December 22, 1808. “Beethoven struggled for over four years with The Fifth Symphony in C minor (op. 67), the most loved & widely performed symphony of all time. The work seems to exemplify the defiant spirit of the human race to continue to strive against adversity” (Duval, Essential Canon of Classical Music).
The present copy of the first edition of Beethoven's Fifth 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.