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Ludwig van Beethoven, Ouvertüre (c-Moll) zu Heinrich Joseph von Collins Trauerspiel "Coriolan" op. 62, Partitur, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, BH 63

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Carefully corrected and patched

The autograph score of the overture to Heinrich Joseph von Collins' tragedy "Coriolanus" is unusually cleanly written and carefully made. Together with a copy of the parts it served as the engraver's model. Before beginning to write it down, Beethoven prepared the music paper by drawing two bar lines on each leaf with a ruler. This meant that there were three bars per page, which could be subdivided further as necessary. At the start Beethoven endeavoured to replace corrected pages with clean copies: Leaf 2v (image 5) contained minor changes as can be seen from the deletions in the first bar. Beethoven sewed the following leaf on top of it with the corrections, thus providing a clean copy (image 7). Stitch marks can be quite clearly seen around the leaf (for research purposes the leaves were separated in the twentieth century). He also sewed a new leaf on top of leaves 5v (images 13 and 15) and 7r (images 18 and 20). After this Beethoven stopped doing so as it was too time-consuming. Although he still continued to make changes to the musical text, they were limited and Beethoven was still very concerned about legibility. Of the 16 staves on each page Beethoven only needed 13 for the score, so that the bottom three staves mostly remain empty. On several pages (increasingly throughout the score) Beethoven uses the lower staff to notate ideas, e.g. on leaf 12v (image 31) or leaf 25r (image 56). Here he sketched fleeting ideas for the composition as key words which he then took up in the score at the appropriate place.

Number entries can often be found in the manuscript, e.g. on leaf 5r the number 50 (image 12). These were not made by Beethoven but by his copyist Joseph Klumpar, who numbered groups of bars to prepare the copy of the parts for performance. The addition of 13 times 24 at the bottom of the first page of music was probably also added by Klumpar. It might well be a rough estimate of the amount of paper needed for the copy of the score. The total 312 is incorrect (the Coriolanus overture has a total of 314 bars) and was probably erased for this reason. (J.R.)

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