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THE SCOOP | Rare Autographed Music Manuscript By Ludwig Van Beethoven Auctioned For $225K USD-

By Anya Wassenberg on June 21, 2024

Beethoven’s autographed early manuscript of “Neue Liebe, neues Leben” recently auctioned (Photo courtesy of RR Auction)
Beethoven’s autographed early manuscript of “Neue Liebe, neues Leben” recently auctioned (Photo courtesy of RR Auction)

An autographed music manuscript written by Ludwig van Beethoven has just sold at auction for $225,000 USD. The very rare find is Beethoven’s first draft of his Lied “Neue Liebe, neues Leben”, written to poetry published by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1775.

“Beethoven manuscripts written before 1800 almost never come to market,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, the firm which sold the item. “No other complete autograph manuscript of this version is known.”

Beethoven’s Song “Neue Liebe, neues Leben”, with English subtitles, performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore “Lively, but not too much”, the composer wrote in the score.

The manuscript consists of three pages across two sheets of paper. It’s unsigned, and dates back to 1798 to 1799. The manuscript shows a kind of rushed, hurried writing for the composer’s early version of the Lied. The melody and words are sketched out, with some of the bass sections, and the piano accompaniment at the end of each verse.

It’s notable also because there are elements that deviate from the version that was eventually published in 1810. The song as published belongs to Beethoven’s Opus 75, and is the second of the series. The original version of the manuscript is catalogued as WoO 127 (Day 113).

Goethe’s poem deals with themes that are common in the romanticism of the era. In it, a young man expresses the idea of love as a force that restricts the personality; the cult of individuality was gaining in popularity during the 18th century. The German poet was in his mid-20s when he wrote the piece about 17-year-old Lili Schönemann; the titled, translated, means “New Love, New Life”.

L: Engraving titled “Beethoven”, after a painting by Lemud. Copyrighted by Boussod-Valadon & Co. in 1892. (Library of Congress collection/Public domain); Beethoven’s letter to his servant of 1826 (Photo courtesy of RR Auction)
L: Engraving titled “Beethoven”, after a painting by Lemud. Copyrighted by Boussod-Valadon & Co. in 1892. (Library of Congress collection/Public domain); Beethoven’s letter to his servant of 1826 (Photo courtesy of RR Auction)

Remnants of the Past

RR Auction’s Art, Literature, and Classical Music auction began on May 22 and concluded on June 20. The Beethoven manuscript is one of several music and culture related documents at auction in Boston, including:

  • A signed letter Beethoven wrote to his secretary in mid-February 1826 sold for $75,000 (in it, he instructs his secretary in cryptic terms, “The matter must be handled cleverly…”)
  • A letter signed by author J. R. R. Tolkien on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, dedicated to an 8-year-old fan, sold for $38,750.
  • Charles Dickens signed book Sketches by Boz,, which had been presented to a London librarian, sold for $36,541.
  • A copy of Ulysses signed by (Limited Edition, 1936), sold for $24,079.
  • A postcard with a sketch the artist created while vacationing in France, signed by Pablo Picasso, sold for $22,000.

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