Autograph Musical Manuscript, 2 pp, oblong 4to (233 x 307 mm), [Vienna, early 1809,] ruled with 14-staves per page, notated in black ink, some minor darkening.
Provenance: Anonymous consignor, J. A. Stargardt, Berlin, 10 March 1988, lot 754 (first of two leaves).
BEETHOVEN'S EMPEROR CONCERTO, THE MOST FREQUENTLY PERFORMED OF HIS PIANO CONCERTI, AND THE FIRST OF THE GREAT 19TH-CENTURY ROMANTIC CONCERTOS.
The first page is a sketch for the second theme of the first movement. Orchestral exposition, beginning with bar 3 in E flat minor with the following major version in B flat major. The further course is noted in a very shortened form (partly within the bar line division no entries, partly pauses, partly obviously only bass tones). The second page contains ideas for the second and third movements. The material of the second movement (found on staves 1-7) is the earlier version of this movement which Beethoven wrote in theme and variations form. Time signature of 2/4 and in B major (but with only four sharps in the key signature). Including the autograph markings "pizz," "tutti" and "minore" (most likely referring to the envisaged minor-mode variation) and twice the notes "Solo" and "una corda." Staves 8-11 are a sketch for the transition to the 3rd movement, with a notation of the final theme - with a different rhythm and different metric at the end "dopo presto."
Beethoven began sketching this work in early 1809 and completed the composition and writing of the score in the same year. He composed the "emperor" concerto following the completion of his fifth symphony and the fourth piano concerto. It was first performed on 13 January 1811 at the Palace of Prince Joseph Lobkowitz in Vienna, with his friend, student and dedicatee of the work Archduke Rudolf of Austria as the soloist, followed by the first public concert on November 28, 1811 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. It represents both his final classical work and the first of the romantic period. Well known for its grandeur and heroic spirit, this piece stands as a bold declaration of artistic and moral freedom. The concerto, a contemporary newspaper reported, "put a numerous audience into such 'a state of enthusiasm that it could hardly content itself with the ordinary expressions of recognition and enjoyment" (Thayer). Today the work is Beethoven's most performed piano concerto and its influence on generations of composers (and audiences) cannot be overestimated. A phrase from the second movement for example forms the start of the melody of Leonard Bernstein's famous theme "There's a Place for Us" in his Broadway musical West Side Story. Very rare, according to American Book Prices Current only 3 other autograph leaves from the Piano Concerto No. 5 have sold at auction in more than 40 years. Kurt Dorfmüller, Norbert Gertsch und Julia Ronge, Ludwig van Beethoven. Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. Band 1 (Munich, 2014), p 460 (source I/1/7); Thayer, The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven (New York 1921). Bonhams thanks Marc Peloquin for assistance in cataloguing this lot.