Rare Beethoven sheet music sells at auction for £67,000

The manuscript was discovered at a house in Connecticut

A rare manuscript belonging to composer Ludwig van Beethoven has sold for $100,000 (£67,000) at an auction.

The handwritten piece of sheet music known as ‘King Stephen’ was recently discovered at a house in Connecticut. It has been sold to a German antiques dealer.

Professional appraiser Brendan Ryan spotted the sheet, covered with notes in German, behind glass at the home of a woman in the US town of Greenwich.

The piece’s authenticity was later confirmed by Carmelo Comberiati, who had been Ryan’s professor at college, and had studied Beethoven manuscripts.

Three holes in the side of the paper showed the sheet had come from the notebook in which Beethoven worked on ‘King Stephen’ in 1811.

Comberiati said Beethoven, unlike most composers, kept his workings. “Beethoven would write out his ideas. With most composers, we just have the final product – they threw the rest out. Beethoven didn’t throw anything out,” he told Greenwich Time. “I found the sketchbook and referenced the exact piece; we put it all together.”

‘King Stephen’ is among Beethoven’s minor works, and only its overture is performed with any frequency today. It was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra in 2011. You can watch a clip of the that performance below.

It was composed for a play written by August von Kotzebue for the opening of the Hungarian theatre in Pest, and tells of the life of the founder of modern Hungary in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. Beethoven also wrote music for another von Kotzebue play, The Ruin of Athens, written for the same theatre.

Although Beethoven manuscripts go to auction regularly, the page from ‘King Stephen’ was unusual for being unknown.

Earlier this year, an invitation to Beethoven’s funeral went up for auction.