Beethoven String Quartets in Manuscript (c.1860)

Ludwig van Beethoven

Quartetten fur 2 Violinen, Bratsche u. Violoncell. Opus 59: 1, 2, 3; Opus 75; 93; Opus 127; 130; 131; 132; 135 [Manuscript]

Date: c.1860

4 Manuscript Volumes containing all of Beethoven's string quartets from the Opus 59 'Rasumovsky' quartets onwards, owned by a leading string player who worked with the Beethoven Quartet Society, Louis Ries. The four volumes are uniformly bound in half sheepskin over marbled boards with grey spine labels detailing their contents: 'Drey Quartetten v. L. Van Beethoven Op 59'; 'Drey Quartetten von L.V. Beethoven Op 75. Op 93'; 'Zwey Quartteten von L. V. Beethoven Op 127. Op 130'; 'Drey Quartetten von L. Van Beethoven Op 131, 132, 135'. The bindings are rubbed especially to the corners with the lower half of the backstrip of the first volume (Op 59) missing. Ries has inscribed his first volume on the first blank: 'To my dear friend and enthusiastic Quartett companion Alfred C. Jordan in remembrance of many enjoyable hours spent together. August 1913 Louis Ries.' (Ries' work as a string quartet player is amply recorded in the last quarter of the nineteenth century - we've not been ale to locate Jordan.) This inscription would appear to be written about half a century after the copying of the manuscripts which was executed by a professional German or Austrian copyist who has provided title pages for each successive work. Comparison with a printed Urtext edition suggests the copyist achieved a high degree of accuracy with an early edition of the works although there also some interesting discrepancies as in the 'Lento' movement of Op 135 where a slightly later musician (possibly Ries himself) has interpolated two additional musical staves to take into account a revised reading of the first violin part which didn't appear until the second edition but had become (and remains) the preferred reading. Many of the quartet movements have rehearsal numbers noted throughout, suggesting that these manuscripts were used to facilitate quartet rehearsals and in this context it is interesting to note that the six Opus 18 quartets do not ever appear to have formed part of this sequence. Beautiful though they are, the are much simpler in musical form that Beethoven's middle and late period quartets and therefore the presence of a full score would be less significant for rehearsal purposes. Manuscripts of Beethoven's quartets in any form are most uncommon on the market


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