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Ludwig van Beethoven, Konzert für Klavier und Orchester Nr. 2 (B-Dur) op. 19, Solostimme, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB Mh 4

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Beethoven as his own copyist

When a work was sent to the printers, the publisher received a clean handwritten copy of the work from the composer, the so-called engraver's model, which the engraver used to produce the printing plates. As a rule, Beethoven did not tend to inflict a score in his own handwriting on his publishers. His writing was too much of a scrawl, and thus the risk of mistakes was too great. This is why a professional copyist usually made a copy of the manuscript. It was only in exceptional cases, if the copy had to be made quickly, that Beethoven made a clean copy himself. He was only too aware of his "scrawl". So when he sent the Leipzig publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister the engraver's model for the solo part of the Second Piano Concerto on 22 April 1801, he wrote, "For instance, as is usual with me, the pianoforte part of the concerto was not written out in the score. I have only written it out now, so that, as I am in a hurry, you will receive that part in my own not very legible handwriting" (from the translation by Emily Anderson, 1961). Beethoven's comment that the piano part had, up till then, not been written out in the score is confirmed by contemporaries. Full of admiration they reported that he improvised the piano part of his concertos during performances or played from an empty sheet of music. (J.R.)

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