Beethoven at Stanford

Five Beethoven manuscripts are part of Stanford’s Memorial Library of Music. The MLM collection was presented in 1948 by Mr. and Mrs. George T. Keating, in memory of Stanford men and women who lost their lives in WWII. These items were digitized in support of the Beethoven Project, a series of events celebrating the inauguration of Bing Concert Hall in 2013.

Beethoven’s works exemplify the spirit behind the MLM collection:

“… a living cultural monument which will testify to the joys and sorrows of man’s experience expressed as great music—a precious part of our human heritage.” – [Preface to the MLM Catalogue]

In questa tomba oscura

In questa tomba oscura

Beethoven and 45 other composers set this poem by Giuseppe Carpani 64 times. Publication of the collection was sponsored by Countess Constantia Rzewuska (b. 1763), and dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz. Paper analysis dates the autograph manuscript to the summer or fall of 1806. Bearing little resemblance to the published work, it is likely an early version. The shape of the opening phrase of the final version is recognizable in the manuscript.

[Elegischer Gesange, opus 118]

Elegischer Gesange, opus 118

This work commemorates the anniversary of Johann Pasqualati’s second wife’s death. Beethoven leased rooms periodically in Vienna from Pasqualati and his family between 1804-1815.  Pasqualati remained a good friend until Beethoven’s death, sending food and drink to the composer during his final illness.

[Sketch for a song]

Ne' giorni tuoi felici (fragment)

This duet dates to Beethoven’s studies with Antonio Salieri in 1801-2. These works may have been intended as concert pieces, or as exercises in setting Italian poetry to music.

The text is from Act I of Pietro Metastasio’s L’Olimpiade. The sketch here, “Veggio languir chi adoro, nè intendo il suo languir,” translates, “I see how my darling suffers, but I don’t understand why.”

Autograph note to Josef August Röckel from Ludwig van Beethoven, undated

Autograph note to Josef August Röckel from Ludwig van Beethoven, undated

Josef Röckel (1783-1870) sang Florestan in the 1806 version of Fidelio. Beethoven and Röckel frequently visited, strolled, and dined together during Beethoven’s years in Vienna. Röckel’s sister, Elisabeth Röckel Hummel, may have been the famous “Elise”; his son, August (1814-1876), also a musician, befriended Richard Wagner.

Beethoven mentions the Missa solemnis in this note: "Here, my dear [friend] I make you a little gift, an English dictionary. With regard to the vocal pieces, I think we should let one of the singers, who is going to sing for us, first sing an air, then we would do two numbers of the Mass, but with German words. Look about you as to who could do this for us, it need not be exactly a masterpiece, if it only suits the music well. Yours, Beethoven."

[Quintette in C, opus 29]

Quintette in C, opus 29 (fragment)

The Quintette was commissioned by and dedicated to Moritz Fries, Count of the Realm. Fries, for a time the richest man in Austria, was Beethoven’s friend, sometimes business partner, and dedicatee of several works including the Symphony  no. 7.

This sketch relates to the development and coda of the first movement.