Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770–1827)

Grand Concerto pour le Pianoforte avec Accompagnement de l'Orchestre compose et dedie a Son Altesse Imperiale Roudolphe Archi-Duc d'Autriche etc....[No. 5, in E flat major] . . . Ouev. [sic] 73.

Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel. [1811]. First German edition, first issue. . Upright folio [piano part only]. Disbound. 1f. (title), 3-42 pp. Price: "4 Rthlr." Engraved throughout. [PN] 1613.  Ticket of the Rotterdam publisher L. Plattner overlayed on title printed Breitkopf publisher identification. Tempo of last movement: "Allegro ma non troppo." Small stain along the upper edge throughout, small tears along left edge, occasional markings in (contemporary?) pen and red ink in blank margin, else a very clean copy. First German edition, first issue. Kinsky p. 196; Hoboken 2, 332; Hirsch, IV, 319. 

Kinsky considers the Breitkopf & Härtel edition to be the first, however, it is actually predated by the edition published by Clementi in 1810.  The present first issue of the German first edition is very rare. No copy of this piano part has appeared at auction in nearly 70 years. 

The Fifth Piano Concerto - the Emperor -  is  composed on a large scale, is the most ambitious in scope and longest of all the concertos by Beethoven, and is regarded by many as his finest essay in this form.  Unquestionably the best known of Beethoven’s piano concerti, it is perhaps the best known piano concerto by any composer.  One of Beethoven's great iconoclastic works, it is a composition in which the composer reinvents the piano concerto, demolishing the older structure of the eighteenth-century form and paving the way for the celebrated Romantic concertos of Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. With the appearance of the soloist after the stirring opening chord, Beethoven announces his unmistakable intention to make the piano an equal protagonist with the orchestra in the unfolding musical drama. The composer had anticipated this in the Fourth Piano Concerto, Op.58, a more reticent work, in the first movement of which the piano enters alone and the orchestra quietly follows. Here in the "Emperor", however, Beethoven introduces the solo piano in stark opposition to the orchestra by giving it a titanic flurry of arpeggios in alternation with thunderous chords from the orchestra.  Beethoven's radical approach is manifest in other ways too. Not only do its vast proportions dwarf those of any previous concerto, its harmonic reach is also enormous, encompassing remote keys scarcely used before, notably in the C-flat passage in the first movement, a kind of precursor to the famously remote key of B major used for the slow movement. This new breadth of vision is reflected too in the tonal scope of the piano, Beethoven employing the highest and lowest ranges of the keyboard as never before.  The shimmering, unearthly beauty of the slow-movement 'adagio', is scarcely paralleled in all Beethoven. The first edition was announced for sale in February 1811. (18222)

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