“A handwritten Beethoven score valued at up to £200,000 has failed to sell at auction, after a public row between music scholars over whether it was written in the composer’s own hand,” write Lydia Willgress and Patrick Foster in Tuesday’s (11/29) Telegraph (U.K.). “The manuscript for Allegretto in B Minor, thought to have been drawn up in 1817 … failed to find a buyer on Tuesday.… The scholarly dispute … centered around the style of the composer’s musical notation…. Barry Cooper, professor of music at Manchester University … insisted that there were ‘several aspects which prove absolutely that it couldn’t possibly be Beethoven’s hand.’ The expert cited a number of notes that had been wrongly transcribed, as well as a variety of differences to the composer’s normal style of notation…. ‘The natural signs are completely different from any natural signs in any genuine Beethoven script.’ He also disagreed with the ‘curves’ in the manuscript.” Cooper and Simon Maguire, director of books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, debated the issue Monday on BBC Radio 4. The news follows Sotheby’s Monday auction of the manuscript of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”) for £4,546,250.
Posted November 30, 2016
Image of Beethoven’s Allegretto in B Minor For String Quartet manuscript, courtesy Sotheby’s