While Mozart seems to have written down his compositions fully formed, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) continually examined, refined, and reworked his musical ideas. His music manuscripts often reveal many revisions—sometimes taking the form of a turbulent swirl of deletions—and his sketches document his creative process, demonstrating a continual exploration of motivic ideas that the composer would later flesh out into complete scores.
Pierpont Morgan purchased the first Beethoven music manuscript in the library’s collection in 1907 from Florentine dealer Leo Olschki. Other autograph manuscripts by the composer have come into the collection by gift, purchase, or deposit. To mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, this installation brings together a range of the composer’s autograph manuscripts from the Morgan’s collections.
The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Carnegie Hall’s “Beethoven Celebration,” January–June 2020.