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Ludwig van Beethoven, Quartett für zwei Violinen, Viola und Violoncello (a-Moll) op. 132, Stimmen, Überprüfte Abschrift

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, NE 275

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Writers without practice

After Beethoven had finished the string quartet in A minor as the second composition for the quartet series deemed for prince Galitzin, two members of the Schuppanzigh quartet, Joseph Linke and Karl Holz, copied the voices based on Beethoven's handwritten score. As can be seen from the entries in Beethoven's conversation booklets and less from the copy itself, both musicians were overwhelmed with copying such a large composition consisting of six numbers. Linke got a headache because of the exhausting writing task. Holz helped him and finished the work, copying the last two compositions. Upon delivery he remarked: "Ich bin nicht gewohnt, zu copiren, sonst könnte ich beynahe für die Correctheit garantiren." [I'm not used to copying, otherwise I would be able to guarantee correctness.]

Beethoven reviewed the copy meticulously. Not only did he correct writing errors (for example picture 3, "ritardando") but also changed the sheet music (for example picture 4, row 3, end) and added performance indications (picture 15, "accellerando") that were missing in his own score. Not all corrections in the copied text were done by Beethoven himself. The headings for the third movement (picture 11) are from his nephew Karl. Beethoven summarised his change requests in a letter (HCB BBr 22) to Holz, thereby also letting him know that his "voice had become hoarse from all the swearing and stomping".
But after all, the efforts proved worthwhile in three ways. Based on the copy, the composition's successful spread started: Using the copy from Linke, Holz and Beethoven professional copyist Wenzel Rampl made a copy for customer Prince Galitzin (BH 91). The voices were also used for the first private performances organised by publisher Maurice Schlesinger in September 1825 Finally, Schlesinger used the copy as engraving model for the Parisian original edition published in August 1827. (F.G.)

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