Two Historic Copies of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony Reunited in Morgan Library Exhibit

New York, NY, September 2013—As part of the Bicentenary celebrations of the Royal Philharmonic Society, the Morgan will display two historic manuscript copies of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Society’s most famous commission and undoubtedly one of the greatest works of classical music. The Morgan’s presentation marks the first time since its creation in 1824 that the Society’s manuscript, received as a result of its commission, will be reunited with the 1824-26 manuscript that now resides in the Juilliard Manuscript Collection, and was used by the printer to prepare the first edition of the work, from which all further copies were made. Beethoven’s Ninth: A Masterpiece Reunited will be on view October 8 through December 1, 2013.

As early as 1817 the Philharmonic Society tried to interest Ludwig van Beethoven in composing two symphonies for them, with the hopes that the composer would premiere the works in London. Not until 1822 was an agreement reached for the commission of the work that would become the Ninth Symphony. A copyist manuscript made its way to England in 1824 bearing on its title page Beethoven’s dedication, “Geschrieben für die Philharmonische Gesellschaft in London” (written for the Philharmonic Society in London).  Beethoven supervised the premiere of the symphony in Vienna on May 7, 1824, while conductor Sir George Smart, a founding member of the Society, used the copyist manuscript to direct the first London performance by the Philharmonic Society on March 21, 1825.

The copyist manuscript, annotated by the composer and probably used for the Vienna premiere, was sent to B. Schott in Mainz to prepare the first published edition of the work that appeared in 1826.

“It is impossible to overstate the significance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. A revolutionary musical work for its time, it is a monumental expression of joy and the brotherhood of mankind,” said Fran Barulich, Mary Flagler Cary Curator and head of the Morgan’s Music Manuscripts Department. “It’s been called upon to mark momentous occasions, including the famous 1989 Leonard Bernstein performance celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the last movement’s “Ode to Joy” has been used as an anthem for the European Union and for various Olympic Games. The work is a towering achievement of Beethoven's genius.”

The Royal Philharmonic Society and Beethoven 

The Royal Philharmonic Society enjoyed close links with Beethoven right from its foundation in 1813, giving first London performances of his 5th and 7th symphonies and 1st, 3rd, and 4th piano concertos. In 1827, when the Society learned that Beethoven was both ill and much in need of money, the Directors decided that a sum of £100 should be sent to him “to be applied to his comforts and necessities.” The money, held up en route, reached him only a few days before he died, but time enough for him to express his heartfelt appreciation to the Society. Schindler, his amanuensis, reported that “the Society had comforted his last days, and that even on the brink of the grave he thanked the Society and the whole English nation for the great gift, God bless them.”

The Juilliard Manuscript Collection’s Engraver’s Proof

The engraver’s proof of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony manuscript is part of the Juilliard Manuscript Collection of 140 priceless autograph manuscripts, sketches, engraver’s proofs, and first editions housed at The Juilliard School. It contains hundreds of markings and annotations in Beethoven’s hand, upon the work of at least two scribes, and shows edits in the music by Beethoven that therefore were never published, as well as re-orchestrations, dynamic, phrase, tempo, and rhythm markings, as well as other important compositional changes. Some sections were recopied and pasted over the original page, sealed with wax. Marginal notations include an epithet by Beethoven to the copyist, “du verfluchter Kerl.”  High resolution images of the manuscript are available for viewing at Beethoven 9 engraver's score.


Beethoven’s Ninth is organized by Fran Barulich, Mary Flagler Cary Curator and Head of the Department of Music Manuscripts and Printed Music at the Morgan.

The exhibition has been funded by and produced with the Royal Philharmonic Society as part of their Bicentenary celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic. New York celebrations in October 2013 include concerts, talks, and lectures at The Juilliard School and Avery Fisher Hall. Music Director Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in a program pairing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the U.S. premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Frieze, a new work that was written in response to that enduring masterpiece, co-commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society, New York Philharmonic and BBC Radio 3 (October 3-5, 8, 9, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center).

As part of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Bicentennial celebrations in the United States, The Juilliard School is collaborating in several events. On Sunday, September 29 the RPS Executive Director Rosemary Johnson and RPS Projects Coordinator Tom Hutchinson hold a public discussion with conductor, author, and teacher Joel Sachs, whose New Juilliard Ensemble performs the U.S. premieres of two RPS commissions, by Judith Weir and Magnus Lindberg, later that evening. Beginning the following day (until they move to the Morgan for public display) both manuscripts will be displayed side by side in the cases of Juilliard’s Scholars’ Reading Room, their markings and annotations an extraordinary educational opportunity for the students and faculty of Juilliard. On Tuesday, October 1, Juilliard hosts a doctoral forum with Dr. Nicolas Bell, curator of the Music Collections at the British Library in London. 

The RPS’s New York Bicentennial celebrations also include an exhibition exploring the pioneering spirit of the founders of both the Royal Philharmonic Society and the New York Philharmonic at the Bruno Walter Gallery at Avery Fisher Hall (September 25-November 23). Materials from both archives will be on display including materials relating to the 1846 U.S. premiere of the Ninth Symphony—the first time that the English translation of “Ode to Joy,” which was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, was performed. 

The original choral parts, hand-written translation, and printing plates—all of which are housed in the New York Philharmonic Archives—will be on view alongside correspondence, scores and memorabilia from the RPS Archive at the British Library. Dr Nicolas Bell, curator of the RPS Archive at the British Library, will give talks detailing the commissioning and creation of Beethoven’s great symphony.

Roger Wright, Director of BBC Proms and Controller of BBC Radio 3, offers his thoughts on the future of classical music in the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture (the first to be delivered outside the UK) on Wednesday, October 9, Kaplan Penthouse, Lincoln Center. Often controversial and always engaging, the RPS Lecture asks leading figures to reflect on the shape of music today and in the future. Previous distinguished speakers have included Master of the Queen’s Music Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and New Yorker critic Alex Ross.

For more information on the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Bicentenary celebrations, visit; for press enquiries about the Royal Philharmonic Society, please contact:

Ms. Sophie Cohen

00 44 (0)207 428 9850

00 44 (0)7711 551 787 (mobile)

For more information on The Juilliard School’s display and related programs, please contact:

(212) 721-0965

For more information on the New York Philharmonic performances, please contact:

Katherine E. Johnson


The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.


The Morgan Library & Museum

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