Beethoven Treasures in America

Beethoven Treasures in America

The major repositories of Beethoven manuscripts in the United States include the Library of Congress, the Pierpont Morgan Library, and the Juilliard School of Music. Others are scattered in public and private collections around the country. In 1927, Oscar G. Sonneck published Beethoven Letters in America, a book issued by the Beethoven Association in New York that included facsimiles and commentaries on the manuscript letters then known to be in this country at the time. Then in 1978, Otto Albrecht published a list of "Beethoven Autographs in the United States" (in: Beiträge zur Beethoven-Bibliographie, ed. Kurt Dorfmüller (G. Henle Verlag), pp. 1-11, which was an update of his Beethoven list in the Census of Autograph Musical Manuscripts by European Composers in the United States that apeared in 1953.

By the end of the twentieth century, many Beethoven manuscripts had been discovered, sold, inherited, or donated, requiring a massive revision of both Sonneck and Albrecht's lists. Patricia Stroh, Curator of the Beethoven Center, undertook this project in 2000. To provide more complete descriptions of the manuscripts, she attempted to examine each one first hand and learn more about its provenance from the current owners. Although the project is still under review, she offers a preliminary draft of the complete list as she works through the revisions. She encourages anyone willing to provide additional information or revisions to the list to contact her. Eventually, all descriptions of the "Beethoven Treasures in America" will be added to the Beethoven Gateway.

The treasures list includes the following categories:

I. Beethoven Letters and Other Biographical Manuscript Sources

  1. Letters
  2. Conversation leaves, household account leaves, and other notes
  3. Receipts
  4. Letters to Beethoven
  5. Letters about Beethoven

II. Music Manuscripts

  1. Sketchleaves
  2. Autographs of Beethoven’s works
  3. Correction lists and corrected copies
  4. Autograph copies of other composers’ music
  5. Contrapuntal studies
  6. Copies of Beethoven’s music in other hands

III. Other Documents and Artifacts

  1. Autographed first editions
  2. Miscellanea

Appendix I: Manuscripts listed in Sonneck no longer in U.S. collections
Appendix II: Manuscripts listed in Albrecht no longer in U.S. collections
Appendix III: Manuscripts listed in Sonneck or Albrecht, current location unknown

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