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Exhibitions | Past

Beethoven's Ninth: A Masterpiece Reunited
October 8 through December 1, 2013


Royal Philharmonic Society./ British Library.

As part of the Bicentenary celebrations of the Royal Philharmonic Society, the Morgan will display two historic copyist scores of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, marking the first time they have been brought together since their creation in 1824. The Morgan's presentation offers a rare opportunity to view these united scores of Beethoven's masterpiece, the Society's most famous commission and undoubtedly one of the greatest works of classical music.

As early as 1817 the Philharmonic Society tried to interest Ludwig van Beethoven in composing two symphonies for them, with the hopes that the composer would premiere the works in London. Not until 1822 was an agreement reached for the commission of the work that would become the Ninth Symphony. Although a copyist manuscript made its way to England in 1824—bearing Beethoven's dedication, "Geschrieben für die Philharmonische Gesellschaft in London" (written for the Philharmonic Society in London) on its title page—the composer did not. Instead, Beethoven supervised the premiere of the symphony in Vienna on May 7, 1824, while Sir George Smart used the copyist manuscript to direct the first London performance by the Philharmonic Society on March 21, 1825. The copyist manuscript, annotated by the composer and used for the Vienna premiere, was sent to B. Schott to prepare the first published edition of the work that appeared in 1826. The display is the first time that the Society's score—annotated by Smart—will be displayed alongside the printer's manuscript that now resides in the collection of the Juilliard Manuscript Collection.

This display has been funded by the Royal Philharmonic Society as part of their Bicentenary celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic. New York celebrations in October 2013 include concerts, talks, and lectures at The Juilliard School and Lincoln Center, and performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony alongside the U.S. premiere of a new work by Mark-Antony Turnage inspired by Beethoven's masterwork by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

For more information on the Society's Bicentenary celebrations, visit www.rps200.org

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.