Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770–1827)

Autograph Musical Manuscript, including sketches of a Ninth Symphony

Fine, early partial autograph working musical manuscript sketch-leaf, including sketches of a Ninth Symphony. 2 pages, apparently the upper right portion of a larger oblong folio, notated in brown ink on paper with twelve-staves visible, the staves drawn with a single rastral, comprising on the recto sketches for an unidentified work or works, containing a number of separate thematic ideas, one marked "sinfonie" and evidently in D minor, another marked "V[iolon]c[e]llo"; on the verso sketches for his Elegischer Gesang, op. 118 (for four voices and string quartet), including the words "Sanft", "Sanft wie du", "Sanft wie du lebte[st]" and "hast du", written in brown ink on systems of varying lengths, with twelve staves visible, numerous cancellations and revisions, 2 pages on one leaf, a fragment (evidently comprising the top right-hand quarter of an oblong 4to sketch-leaf with untrimmed deckle edge to the right), no watermark visible (possibly a blank quadrant from JTW Paper-Type 25), traces of mount on the left-hand border of the verso, diagonal crease, c.166 x 148 mm., [Vienna, c.1814].

Beethoven's autograph sketches for a Ninth Symphony. The drafts for the Elegischer Gesang on the verso would indicate that this leaf dates from around 1814, two years after Beethoven had finished his Eighth Symphony. While there does not seem to be a direct link with the Ninth ('Choral') Symphony as it came to be written, the fact that the present sketches for a "sinfonie" (as it is here marked) are seemingly in D minor is significant - for this of course is the key of the Choral Symphony as it was to be eventually realised (and much has been written on the struggle therein between D minor and major). Furthermore, the symphony sketch appears to be in 2/4 time, as is the first movement of the Ninth. This period also saw the composition of Beethoven's overture Namensfeier. This, too, had a role in the genesis of the Ninth; as Lindsay Kemp has observed: "Ever since the 1790s Beethoven had entertained thoughts of setting to music Friedrich Schiller's 'Ode to Joy', and by 1811 he was closing in on the idea of a choral overture. When plans for a four-movement symphony with choral finale eventually superseded (even if they were not realised for more than a decade), music from the abandoned work was salvaged to find its way into this apparently general purpose overture" (programme note to the BBC Prom 69, 6 September 2005).

The Elegischer Gesang sketched on the verso was composed in memory of Eleonore, wife of Baron Johann Baptist von Pasqualati, who had died in childbirth in 1811. The author of the words is unknown, although it is generally assumed that they were by Pasqualati himself. It dates from the period that saw Beethoven's final revision of Fidelio: "there are some telling parallels between this tribute to Eleonore and the opera celebrating the similarly named heroine. The subject of 'Die eheliche Liebe' (Conjugal Love), as the subtitle of the opera runs, also prompted the new work's composition, and its key, E major, is that associated with Leonore" (David Wyn Jones, note on the Richard Hickox Chandos recording). Further sketches for the Elegischer Gesang are to be found in the Dessauer Sketchbook in Vienna, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (datable to between March and September 1814), although the present fragment does not appear to be from that book; a further single leaf with sketches for op. 118 is split between Stanford University and the Newberry Library in Chicago.