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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Beethoven's Ninth fetches £2.1m
Manuscript for Beethoven's Ninth symphony
The manuscript was expected to fetch up to £3m
The working manuscript for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony has sold for more than £2.1m at auction.

Described as possibly the single most important musical work by the legendary composer, the document contains Beethoven's own handwritten revisions.

The manuscript is the only full score ever to be auctioned, and was bought for £2.133m by a private collector at Sotheby's in London on Thursday.

It had been expected to fetch up to £3m.

The BBC's Razia Iqbal said bidding went very slowly.

"We couldn't understand why it was going very, very slowly. In the end, it went to a telephone bidder - it didn't even go to someone in the room," she said.

The German composer's piece includes unpublished music that was not in the first edition.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven scribbled all over the manuscript
Dr Stephen Roe, head of the Manuscripts Department at the auction house, said it was "an incomparable manuscript of an incomparable work".

It was "one of the highest achievements of man, ranking alongside Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear", he said.

"The manuscript, which was used by the printer for the first edition, contains music apparently unpublished and is the only full score of the symphony ever likely to come on the market."

The work was prepared for Beethoven by two copyists, but the 575-page manuscript is marked throughout with thousands of scribbles and alterations by the composer, showing how it reached its final form in 1824.

The changing tempo and tune reflect the artist's frustration - including the written remark "du verfluchter Kerl" (you damned fool).

It apparently refers to the fact that Beethoven's favourite copyist had died, and his two replacements appeared to struggle with the composer's handwriting.

Beethoven received an invitation to write a new symphony - which became the Ninth - in 1817.

Hitler was fan

It has become a classical favourite and in the last movement is teamed with the words from Schiller's Ode to Joy.

Some suspect the manuscript was used as the conducting score for the music's world première attended by Beethoven in Vienna in 1824.

Fans of the work have included Adolf Hitler who had it played at a number of his birthday concerts.

It also featured in Stanley Kubrick's controversial film A Clockwork Orange.

The last movement of the symphony has been the anthem of the European Union since 1986.

The BBC's Razia Iqbal
"It strikes a chord with contemporary artists"

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