Octavo. Engraved throughout. Title (v.b.); dedication (v.b.); 1–231 pp. [PN] 1973. Original period boards and marbled flyleaves, nicely rebacked in brown leather with gold titling. Instrumentation written in ink in left margin of left pages, roughly first half, else fine. Kinsky-Halm, 131. 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.
The present first German edition is the first edition of Beethoven's Eroica as an independent work, and the first edition authorized by the composer; it follows an edition printed in London 1809, in which the work was included among a collection of symphonies by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
This particular score 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.
The "Eroica" is one of Beethoven's greatest and most epoch-making works: it changed the nature of the symphony forever. The first movement alone is the length of most entire symphonies by Haydn and Mozart. Hence Beethoven's preface to this edition, advising placing the work near the beginning of a concert rather than near the end..."Questa Sinfonia essendo scritta apposta più lunga delle solite, si deve eseguire più vicino al principio ch' al fine di un Academia e poco doppo un Overtura un' Aria ed un Concerto; accioche, sentita troppo tardi, non perda per l'auditore già faticato dalle precedenti produzioni, il suo proprio proposto effetto." Beethoven originally intended to dedicate the work to Napoleon, whose republican ideals he espoused - he even titled the work "Bonaparte" at one stage. Ries describes how the composer mutilated his autograph title-page bearing the dedication, but an echo of it can be found in the present title to the work, which Beethoven describes as having been "composed to celebrate the memory of a great Man."