A letter in which Beethoven literally just asks for some sheet music back has sold for $275k.

17 November 2020, 11:03

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

LVB, still raking it in 250 years on...

A letter in which Ludwig van Beethoven asks a pianist to send his music back has gone for $275,000 (£207,780) at auction.

Signed and written by the man himself, the extremely rare letter was sold at the Heritage Auctions’ Historical Manuscripts Auction in Texas, US.

The Ludwig Autograph Letter Signed ‘Beethoven’, previously thought to be worth around $60,000, eventually went for four times the estimated prize.

$275,000 is the most money paid for a Beethoven-signed document in the last decade.

It’s a short letter, to a Mr von Bauman, in which the composer requests the return of a piano trio and writes he will return soon with a violin sonata.

“It came as a complete surprise because it’s beyond the norm for what his letters sell for,” said Sandra Palomino, director of Rare Manuscripts at Heritage Auctions. “[Beethoven] rarely comes on the market, but people got excited about this because he was talking about his music.”

Read more: So if Beethoven was completely deaf, how did he compose? >

Beethoven letter to Mr von Bauman
Beethoven letter to Mr von Bauman. Picture: Heritage Auctions

The anonymous, winning bidder is a US pianist who has researched and given lectures on Beethoven and intends to donate the letter to the conservatoire where she studied.

She said it was close to heart because “it refers to a trio sonata, which I played so I knew where he was coming from”.

Read more: Was Beethoven black? Twitter debates German composer’s true heritage >

“It was my idea that I am getting older and, besides enjoying in enormously, I am going to give it to my alma matter in my will,” the buyer said. “This was a last-minute purchase, but I feel it is something that will be important for young people to feel.

“It means a lot to me, and Germany has always been so welcoming to me. Beethoven was my refuge growing up.”