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Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1: RBI Score & Obtainment

By Jessica Jonczyk and Brendan Moir

Full Score

RBI Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, First Edition

Provenance

The RBI's Score

The RBI's copy of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 is a first edition collection of parts, containing the piano solo as well as all orchestral parts. It was printed by the Leipzig Industrie Comptoir, which is surprisingly most well known for their contributions to the playing card community. For this specific score, however, they used copper plates that were custom engraved by hand and then layered with ink before being pressed onto the page. If one were to look closely at the score, one could even see the various outlines of the plates.

What is even more interesting about this printing process is how it was conducted. For these scores, there were four plates that would be impressed upon one large sheet of paper, which then would be cut up and folded on top of itself so the new pages could be sewn together and be combined with the other "booklets" to provide a double sided, 17" score. The benefits of working in this way are threefold: printing it all page by page is time consuming and tedious; it was much more cost effective; and most of all it provided consistent readability.

One will also notice that the title page is in French. The main reason for this is because of the fact that many scores of the early 1800's were great sources of income for composers—and what greater way is there to enlarge one's earnings than by widening the range of exposure? Many publications of the early 1800's would be printed in three different languages (German, French, or Italian) in order to appeal to their respective markets.

For many more interesting observations about this specific score, visit the "Interesting Tidbits" page. 

Provenance

This particular score was most likely donated by Emmy Martin. According to the accompanying note (Left), it was an anniversary gift from her husband, George (most likely referencing himself as "father" in the note). It reads: 

"From father on our 45th Wedding Anniversary, June 4th 1939, Cleveland Ohio. 12725 Lake Shore Blvd., from Scribner's Book Store,  N.Y."

Since Emmy Martin was 62 in 1939 and was also known to have had a steady rapport with Scribner when buying scores, it is probably safe to assume that this was part of the donation that she provided to the RBI. The only question now is, what does the insignia on the note mean?