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Ludwig van Beethoven, 33 Veränderungen über einen Walzer von Anton Diabelli op. 120, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, NE 294

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Manuscript with a history

The autograph of the Diabelli variations gives a detailed insight into Beethoven's working routine. It nicely illustrates how the composer worked, how he strove for a perfect final version by adding, crossing out and pasting over notes, by inserting sheets and so on. Beethoven's handwriting gives evidence of the conflict between producing a well-readable copy and giving way to spontaneity and unrestrained expression. His way of writing says much about his musical intentions, and the manuscript also mirrors his complex personality.

His handwriting had always been quite attracting. Anton Diabelli, who ordered the variation cycle, wanted to own the autograph by all means and claimed that he as the publisher needed it as proof of ownership. And indeed, he managed to obtain it. Later, it came into the possession of two well-known autograph collectors: Heinrich Steger from Vienna and Louis Koch from Frankfurt. Thereafter, the manuscript remained in private possession for many years. Thanks to the contribution of many supporters, among them the public authorities, public and private foundations as well as music aficionados from all over the world, the manuscript could be acquired in 2009 and be added to the collection of the Beethoven-Haus. Last but not least this important achievement is owing to the efforts of outstanding Beethoven interpreters who gave charity concerts. Thanks to this common commitment artists and laymen can now enjoy this unusual master composition.

A detailed description (German only) of every page will help readers to understand the partially unintelligible manuscript with its various writing layers.

Facsimile edition published by Beethoven-Haus

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