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Ludwig Van Beethoven. Symphony No. 5 (Violin I part, 1809; Score, 1826)

The Music Library holds many sets of orchestral parts printed in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Among them, not surprisingly, is a set of parts for Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, but among that set there is a surprise. One of the Violin I parts looks older than the rest, and on closer examination it proves to be from the first edition, published in 1809. The very earliest copies of this edition failed to incorporate some of Beethoven’s changes to the score. When he discovered this he wrote an angry letter to the publisher, who had to make alterations to the already engraved plates. Only three copies of the unaltered state are known (and only that in the British Library has the violin I part); later copies such as this show signs of alteration as early as the rather untidy 3 rd, 4 th and 5 th bars, where an extra bar has been inserted.

It was not until 1826 that the full score was published. Recently a copy of this First Edition was discovered in the Music Library, bound at the end of a more recent edition of the Sixth Symphony. It can be identified as part of the first issue by the absence of additional text added to the title page when it was reissued in the 1830s.

Click on thumbnails to see larger images.

Title page of Violin 1 part.
First page of music (top) of Violin 1 part.
First page of music (top) of score.
Title page of score.


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