“THE INSTRUMENTS TAKE THEIR PART BESIDE THE CHORUS ALMOST LIKE LIVING CREATURES”: FIRST EDITION OF BEETHOVEN’S MASS IN C MAJOR
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van. Messa a quattro Voci coll’ accompagnamento dell’ Orchestra… Drey Hymnen für vier Singstimmen mit Begleitung des Orchesters, in Musik gesetzt und Sr Durchlaucht dem Herrn Für von Kinsky zugeeignet… 86s Werk. Partitur. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, . Oblong quarto, modern three-quarter green morocco, marbled boards. $3500.
First edition of the full score of Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Opus 86.
Composed in 1807 at the request of Beethoven’s last patron, Prince Esterházy, in celebration of his wife’s name day, the mass was designed for normal liturgical use. Although “his setting followed the words and painted their ideas with extraordinary fidelity… Beethoven strove for a musical design that should evolve logically, without depending on the verbal clauses to make it intelligible. The Mass, in fact, was to be as self-sufficing as a symphony or sonata. It was planned on a noble scale for a quartet of solo singers, chorus and full orchestra-a decision justified by the ample resources of the Esterházy musical establishment… The orchestration is beautiful. The instruments take their part beside the chorus almost like living creatures. It is possible that the loveliness and depth of Beethoven’s intentions were a little greater than the thematic material in which he expressed them, but every movement of the mass has wonderful beauties” (Scherman and Biancolli, 778-79). This copy has the “Anmerkung” at the end, on page 71. This accords with the description of the Hoboken copy and the copy in the Beethovenhaus, Bonn, and calls into question Kinsky’s assignment of priority to the issue with the “Anmerkung” on the verso of the title. Engraved title page and music text. Kinsky-Halm, 239. Hirsch IV: 338. Early owner stamp to title and pages 3, 26, 39, 72, 91. A few performance notations.
Title reinforced at hinge, price almost invisibly rubbed out. Lower margins with light dampstaining. Very good condition, attractively bound.