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Ludwig van Beethoven, Skizzenblatt zu den Streichquartetten op. 130 und op. 132, Autograph

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, HCB BSk 19/67

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Unusual leaf format

This bifolium with sketches for the late String Quartets op. 130 and 132 was originally part of a sketchbook from the summer of 1825, which is now in Moscow. The Moscow Sketchbook is a pocket sketchbook. The format of pocket sketchbooks was smaller and handier, so that Beethoven could carry them around in his coat pocket when he went out. The leaves shown here look as if they were once larger and cut up - one might almost think they are fragments. This is partly correct and partly incorrect. It is correct that they came from a larger collection, but incorrect as they are not fragments in the sense that they were damaged over time. When the sketchbook was put together, both of the bifolia were formed by folding in half a leaf with ten lines in upright format. After binding they were cut apart along the fold, so that each remaining piece only had five lines, giving the layout of the page a somewhat offset appearance. This is why the leaf looks like a fragment, although it has not changed since Beethoven's time. (J.R.)

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