Beethoven’s cataloguer-in-chief

Posted on: December 16, 2013

In Sunday’s (12/15) Los Angeles Times, Chris Kraul writes about Michael Ladenburger, the musicologist who “heads the Beethoven-Haus museum” in Bonn, Germany “and is custodian of its collection…. His job over the years has evolved into that of detective, applying his considerable forensic skills and his vast knowledge of the composer and his times to track down, verify and if possible acquire Beethoven documents and personal effects.… This year, Ladenburger the ‘gumshoe’ acquired an 1811 letter that Beethoven wrote to friend and patron Count Franz von Brunswick, who was the dedicatee of his famous ‘Appassionata’ piano sonata.… ‘You have to know the right persons, you have to have a good nose, and you have to have luck,’ he said.… Recent buys include the drafts of two of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas—Opus 90 and Opus 101—and the original handwritten score of the Diabelli Variations…. An indication of the devotion some classical artists feel to Beethoven and to the museum was revealed in how Ladenburger financed the Diabelli Variations’ multimillion-dollar purchase price. (Ladenburger won’t disclose the amount.) The manuscript was paid for in part by a series of benefit concerts by world-class musicians including [pianist Andras] Schiff, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and conductor-pianist Daniel Barenboim.”

Posted December 16, 2013