BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van (1770-1827). Autograph music manuscript, [Vienna, c.1806], a sketchleaf for the slow movement of the String Quartet in C, op.59, no.3, the third 'Razumovsky' quartet, a densely-used leaf comprising a number of sketches and drafts of varying lengths, on one, two or three staves, with frequent cancellations and emendations, the sketches principally on the verso (two drafts only on the recto), one stave extended into the margin, two pages, 150 x 280mm, ruled with 11 staves, cut down from a larger leaf, probably of 16 staves (slight spotting, stitch holes at margin).
Provenance: the present leaf was quite likely amongst the material acquired at the posthumous auction of Beethoven's sketchbooks on 5 November 1827 by the Viennese publishing firm Artaria -- it was presented by August Artaria (1807-1893) in 1837 to the pianist and friend of Beethoven, Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858), inscribed 'to J.B. Cramer by his friend Auguste Artaria (of Vienna)'; also annotated by Cramer 'N.B. the whole of the following is in the hand writing of the Illustrious & Inspired Louis Van Beethoven -- J.B. Cramer'; subsequent cancelled inscriptions in French, reading in part 'Composé et écrit par la main de Louis Van Beethoven et presenté à Monsr D...t... par J.B. Cramer'.
One of Beethoven's most radiant works, the string quartet op.59 no.3 was, like the other two 'Razumovsky' quartets, written for the Russian diplomat Andrey Kirillovich, Count Razumovsky (1752-1836): the set was first performed early in 1807 at Razumovsky's palace in Vienna by the quartet led by Beethoven's friend Ignaz Schuppanzigh, who two years previously had put on the first ever public concert series of chamber music. Public reaction to the quartets focused initially on their unprecedent complexity, and only this, the 3rd quartet, was accorded a favourable reception, with the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung observing that 'it must please any educated music lover by its originality, melody and harmonic power' (27 February 1807). The third quartet is the only one of the group not to incorporate Russian folk themes in honour of the dedicatee, though commentators have identified an exotic flavour to this 2nd, slow movement, particularly in its use of pedal points and pizzicato accompaniments, which may be intended to evoke a Russian atmosphere: certainly, in its sonata form with reversed capitulation and its meditative, almost obsessive mood, in striking contrast with the exuberance of the preceding Allegro vivace, it is, in Joseph Kerman's words (The Beethoven Quartets, 1967, p.145), 'quite unlike anything else that Beethoven ever wrote'; it has been characterised by A.B. Marx as 'seltsam fremd' (quoted in Kerman, op. cit., p.149) and by Philip Radcliffe as 'exceptionally original' (Beethoven's String Quartets, 1965, p.76). The present sketchleaf relates principally to the middle of the movement, including the second subject (on the second stave of the verso), and the entries for viola, violin and cello between bars 45 and 59; the remainder of the leaf is given over to a characteristically thorough examination of the possibilities of the material -- much of it unused in the final composition, but giving us direct insight into Beethoven's compositional thought-processes.
The leaf is not recorded by Johnson, Tyson and Winter, The Beethoven Sketchbooks (1985): they record only two bifolia (relating to the 1st movement) and three single leaves for op.59 no.3 (divided between the Beethovenhaus, Bonn, the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the Royal College of Music in London and a private collection): although a number of the op.59 sketchleaves bear, like this one, rough stitching holes, it is surmised that these reflect a later organisation, and that at the time of Beethoven's composition of the quartets he worked on them as scattered leaves.