“MORE AN EXPRESSION OF FEELING THAN A PAINTING”: FIRST EDITION OF BEETHOVEN’S “PASTORAL” (SIXTH) SYMPHONY
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van. Sixieme symphonie Pastorale en fa majeur… Oeuvre 68. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, . Royal octavo, early gray paper boards with vellum spine and corners. $8500.
First edition of the full score of Beethoven’s Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony—“What a cheerful, genial, beneficent view over the whole realm of Nature and man!” (Grove, Beethoven, 227).
The announcement of Beethoven's concert of December 22, 1808 appearing a few days earlier in the Wiener Zeitung referred to "A Symphony, entitled: 'A Recollection of Country Life." The word "pastoral" is first found in a violin part (now in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna) used at the first performance. Beethoven feared that the "program" aspect of the symphony would overwhelm the music, and he warned that the symphony was "More an expression of feeling than a painting." Despite the composer's admonition, the "Pastoral" is program music at its best, a vivid expression of feelings inspired by the natural world—especially the realistic birdcalls in the coda of the second movement, and the small-town brass band and "muttering of thunder" in the third movement (Sherman & Biancoli, 581). "To the end of his life Beethoven was a lover of the country. Thus he earns a good mark which history does not award to Bach, Handel, Mozart, Berlioz, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner and Brahms. It was a love that went deeper than the townsman's delight in pretty places and fresh air… In the presence of field, trees and hills Beethoven felt himself nearer to the spirit of divine things than he did among men and buildings; and his art responded in like degree, for it was during his lonely rambles that his inspiration came most fluently and his compositions most readily assumed their nature and course" (Grove I:556). Kinsky-Halm, 163. Fuld, 560. Hoboken, 304. Hirsch IV:311.
Occasional foxing; title page remargined. Corners slightly bumped, a bit of soiling to vellum. An attractive copy.