Beethoven Manuscript Sells for Nearly $2 Million
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We have an update now from the auction world. A select group of people with a few million dollars to spare gathered at Sotheby's in London today to bid on a rare piece of music history.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: The handwritten manuscript for this piece was found earlier this year in a forgotten cabinet in a library near Philadelphia. It is by Beethoven, a piano duet version of "The Grand Fugue in B-flat," one of his last and most audacious works.
Mr. STEPHEN ROE (Sotheby's): It is in brilliant condition. And, I mean, there is absolutely no doubt that this is all in Beethoven's hand.
INSKEEP: Stephen Roe is head of the manuscript department at Sotheby's.
Mr. ROE: Well, after 25 years in the business, one cannot be blase about holding these things that--when I first saw it, I just couldn't get over how beautiful it was. But also there's the other thing, that it is absolutely full of information about performance.
INSKEEP: Full of information about how Beethoven wanted things done. Roe says the composer was deaf when he wrote this piece but still knew exactly what it should sound like.
Mr. ROE: The emphases that he gives to things and certain notes and also, you know, ...(unintelligible) alterations and that sort of thing, you see him sort of getting to the final version, but you can also infer from it that he was rather shortsighted because there are quite a number of mistakes that he's made which are actually mistakes, just putting things on the wrong line and that sort of thing. So you learn that as well.
INSKEEP: Today in London that Beethoven manuscript, once lost, now found, was sold to an anonymous buyer for $1.95 million.
If Beethoven's manuscript is to pricey for you, there is still a chance to bid on the artifacts of another late composer, from The Grateful Dead.
(Soundbite of "Truckin'")
THE GRATEFUL DEAD: (Singing) Truckin', got my chips cashed in...
Mr. HARRY COLTIS(ph): We're going to be auctioning the items that once belonged to Jerry Garcia.
INSKEEP: But Harry Coltis will not be selling Jerry Garcia's guitars or cars or clothes later this month. He will be selling on eBay bits and pieces from Garcia's former home in Nicasio, California. Coltis bought that home from the Garcia estate in the late '90s. He doesn't own it now, but he still owns a lot of its fixtures and now he's ready to sell any Deadhead with a disposable income
Mr. COLTIS: They might be able to get a mirror, OK? They could get a drawer handle, the drawer pull, a trash compactor, or kitchen sink, you know.
INSKEEP: Coltis says he hopes to raise as much as $100,000 from the eBay auction, and that money will go to a non-profit in San Francisco.
Mr. COLTIS: Yeah, granted, his guitars auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but this is a way for the average person to spend, you know, a hundred bucks or 200 bucks to pick something up. The idea is, well, this actually was owned and used by Jerry.
INSKEEP: The household fixtures go on sale December 18th, everything from the doorknobs to the trash compactor. And no doubt if Jerry Garcia's trash compactor could talk, it could take us on a long, strange trip.
(Soundbite of "Truckin'")
THE GRATEFUL DEAD: (Singing) Truckin', I'm a goin' home, whoa, whoa, baby, back where I belong, back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin' on.
INSKEEP: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.