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Rare Beethoven Manuscript Discovered In Greenwich Home

Mel Comberiati and Brendan Ryan worked together to authenticate a rare piece of Beethoven sheet music.
Mel Comberiati and Brendan Ryan worked together to authenticate a rare piece of Beethoven sheet music. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. -- An original sketchbook music sheet penned by Ludwig van Beethoven was discovered in a Greenwich home this past summer.

The rare piece of sheet music was discovered by Brendan Ryan of Butterscotch Auctioneers and Appraisers of Pound Ridge, who collaborated with Prof. Mel Comberiati of Manhattanville College in Purchase to authenticate the find.

“The handwriting was so vigorous and passionate I assumed from the start that it was Beethoven’s, as there are few other composers who can channel his intensity both as an artist and a personality,” said Ryan.

Ryan decided to consult with Comberiati, his old music professor, to help authenticate the sheet music. Comberati is a former Fullbright Scholar in Vienna who had come into contact with many of Beethoven's archived manuscripts and papers and has been teaching at Manhattanville since 1983. Ryan graduated with a degree in music education from Manhattanville in 2008.

The two began a careful authenticating process both online and in Comberiati’s home library.

Ryan first found historic examples of paper that matched the size and binding features of the single sheet in question, which had been framed as a souvenir.

Once they narrowed their search to a handful of works and a time period, Ryan and Comberiati determined that the piece was from Opus 117, commissioned by Emperor Francis I of Hungary for the inauguration of a new theater in Pest, Hungary. It was first performed on Feb. 9, 1812.

“A Beethoven sketch leaf of this magnitude is a very rare find,” said Comberiati. “Most are no longer in private hands.”

The sheet of music was purchased at auction in November for $120,000.

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