a densely-used two-sided autograph sketchleaf containing music to opus 117, "König Stephan" or "Ungarns erster Wohltäter" ("Hungary's first Benefactor"), the front showing, among other motifs, the opening cello/bassoon line for the beginning of the first movement chorus, "Ruhend von seinen Thaten", and the verso with material from the end of the movement, all over with various freely written passages in ink and pencil, mostly on single staves, some with text underneath, containing many holograph corrections and instances where ink is written over pencil, on sixteen-stave paper, 9-1/8 x 12-5/8 in., with two folds and three punched holes on the left margin; accompanied by two autograph letters from William Künzel in Leipzig to Fred M. Steele of Chicago, dated July 16th, 1886, discussing the acquisition and authenticity of the present sketchleaf.
Provenance: William Künzel, Leipzig, Germany, before 1886; Collection of Fred M. Steele, Chicago, purchased from the above, 1886; (Probably purchased before the sale of the Collection of Important Autographs in the estate of Mrs. Ella P. Steele, widow of Mr. Fred M. Steele, Philadelphia, 1918); By descent to the current owner, Greenwich, CT
CATALOG NOTE: The present sketch leaf, apparently unknown to scholars prior to this sale, belongs to a book of sketches that Beethoven used while writing his stage music "König Stephan" in 1810. Dr. Carmelo Comberiati, author and professor of Music History at Manhattanville College explains: "He [Beethoven] created his own book from various paper on hand and used it while at the spa in Teplitz from late 1810 into mid 1811. He finished King Stephan between 8/25 and 9/13 in 1810. The sketches are of the first chorus (after the overture). It was commissioned for the opening of the new theater in Pest (as in Budapest) along with The Ruins of Athens. First performed 2/9/1812, it was published as op. 117. King Stephan I founded Hungary in 1000. Emperor Francis I of Austria commissioned the new theater, and Beethoven made most sense as the composer to honor the occasion of the opening. The Austrian emperor was honoring Hungary's loyalty, thus the subject matter on a text by August Von Kotzebue."
The Beethoven-Haus in Bonn holds four other sketches from this sketchbook (viewable in their digital online archive, as entries HCB Bsk 2/50, 3/51, 4/52, and Mh 81), all of which share the same three-holes punched on the left-side margin of the present sketch.
RELATED LITERATURE: For an in-depth discussion of the pages this sketch belongs to, see Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson and Robert Winter, "The Beethoven Sketchbooks", p. 201-206
We would like to thank Dr. Carmelo Comberiati for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.