“THE INSTRUMENTS TAKE THEIR PART BESIDE THE CHORUS ALMOST LIKE LIVING CREATURES”: FIRST EDITION OF BEETHOVEN’S MASS IN C MAJOR, THE GORE-OUSELEY COPY
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, early three-quarter brown calf, raised bands, marbled boards and endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $3500.
First edition of the full score of Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Op. 86, the copy of music prodigy and noted collector Sir Frederick Gore-Ouseley, signed by him.
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… 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… every movement of the mass has wonderful beauties” (Scherman and Biancolli, 778-79). Kinsky states that the first edition should have the “Anmerkung” pertaining to page 71 of the score on the verso of the title page; however, there are several variants, of which this copy is one. Here the “Anmerkung” is on the verso of page 69. Engraved title page and music text. Kinsky-Halm, 239. Hirsch IV: 338. This copy is from the famous music library Sir Frederick Gore-Ouseley assembled at the choir school he endowed, St. Michael’s Tenbury. Gore-Ouseley, 1825-89, a music prodigy and professor of music at Oxford, put together the best private music library in England, which included the autograph manuscript of Handel’s Messiah. In addition to Ouseley’s signature, this copy also bears the signature of Francis Dickins of Magdalen College, Oxford, from whom Ouseley acquired many pieces of music, and presumably this piece as well. Engraved title page and music text. Owner signatures to title page and front free endpaper. Ink-stamp from the music publishers Boosey and Hawkes to title page.
A very clean, fresh strike, suggesting an early impression from the engraved plates. Only light wear to near-contemporary calf binding. A most desirable copy with exceptional provenance.