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Ludwig van Beethoven, Skizzen zu WoO 18, WoO 3 und zur 9. und 10. Sinfonie, op. 125 und Unv 3, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB BSk 20/68

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Sketches for the "Tenth"

For 160 years the "myth of the Tenth Symphony" was one of the best and most popular of all Beethoven legends. It was supported by the report of one of Beethoven friends, Karl Holz, for whom the composer supposedly played the first movement of this symphony. It was, however, thought that it did not exist outside of Beethoven's mind. Today we know better: a large number of sketches for the Tenth Symphony exist, including those on the leaf shown here. It is quite clear that the music was written using two different pens, the one used for the upper staves is thicker than that used for the lower ones. The upper staves, which contain woodwind parts on the first page, are also cleanly and neatly written and do not resemble sketches. These lines are really part of an unfinished score, the music for which was already complete, namely the Trio from WoO 18, the so-called York March. The sketches for the Tenth Symphony were done underneath using a thinner pen and, as with many sketches, are accompanied by explanatory words. In the middle of leaf 1r (image 1) on the left (underneath the contrabassoon) it says "harmonie allein" (just wind), a note about the instrumentation (meaning just for woodwind instruments). Above the second line from the bottom on the right, Beethoven writes "ohne 2 theile" ("without 2 parts"), a note on the formal structure of the first movement of this symphony. There are further comments on the reverse, such as thoughts on further movements, "3tes Stück" (3rd piece), "fuga in B" (fugue in B flat) and "5tes Stück" (5th piece). As we know, Beethoven never finished his Tenth Symphony. But to claim it is a mere legend is certainly not correct, as this sketch leaf proves. (J.R.)

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