The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 May 2003

Ode to acquisitiveness

Sotheby's recently auctioned off Beethoven's working manuscript of his Symphony No. 9, bringing in £2.1 million (about $3.2 million US).

Lynn is not impressed in the slightest:

I do not deny that this manuscript, which contains the actual handwriting of Beethoven himself, is worth over $3 million. Its actual worth is beyond any amount of money. However the people who pay huge sums of money for such artifacts do not love music as much as they love the idea of owning something rare and unique.

Which is true as far as it goes. But it's not like the Ninth is being locked up forevermore, just because someone with a hefty Visa limit is stashing the manuscript in his vault. What's really precious is not the paper with the notes on it, but the sounds that play in our heads, and no one's ever come close to putting a price tag on those.

(Note to RIAA surfers: Don't get any ideas. And if you do, send the check first.)

Posted at 9:31 PM to Tongue and Groove


I have a friend in the recording industry who told me he was reposible for originally recording "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." I paid him $5.00 to never tell me that again.

Posted by: Tiger at 10:06 PM on 22 May 2003

Oh, I suspect that the person who bought it probably was/is a big Beethoven fan.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at 12:36 AM on 23 May 2003

Somehow, this doesn't seem like the second coming of Gilbert Kaplan.

(Kaplan, a New York financial adviser, was utterly obsessed with Mahler's Second Symphony; not only did he acquire the manuscript, but he studied it, published notes on it, and eventually conducted it with major orchestras.)

Posted by: CGHill at 7:02 AM on 23 May 2003