Lost Beethoven quartet movement reconstructed


A string quartet movement composed by Beethoven in 1799 will be heard for the first time in over two centuries thanks to meticulous research conducted at Manchester University.

Professor of music, Barry Cooper, has reconstructed the original slow movement from Beethoven’s String Quartet, Op 18 No 2 in G. When the 28-year-old Beethoven revised the movement a year after its completion, the original manuscript was lost. Although detailed sketches of the work survived, it was only recently established that the drafts for 74 bars amounted to a complete movement.

‘With other works that Beethoven revised, like his opera Fidelio, discarded movements still survive more or less intact,’ said Professor Cooper. ‘So the prospect of hearing a Beethoven work that has been absent for over 200 years should be of much interest to anyone who loves his music, even if my reconstruction may differ slightly from what the composer wrote.’

The original manuscripts for Quartets, Op 18 Nos 1-3 were sold for 200 florins to Prince Lobkowitz in October 1799. Revisions for the first and second quartets were completed a year later, along with an entirely new slow movement for No 2, which retained little of the earlier material.