I read about a Beethoven manuscript found in a monastery in the United States in Beethoven's hand called the Grosse Fugue. What happened to it? Was it auctioned? Who bought it? For how much?

I read about a Beethoven manuscript found in a monastery in the United States in Beethoven's hand called the Grosse Fugue. What happened to it? Was it auctioned? Who bought it? For how much?

— Dora K., Medford

Beethoven wrote the string quartet in B-flat major, op. 130, and its original finale, the Grosse Fugue, or Fuge, op. 133, in late 1825, Dora. In it he pushed melody and harmony into regions where, according to biographer Philippe A. Auxtexier, "he had only Mozart and Bach as companions."

The introspective piece was so difficult few musicians could play it, audiences didn't like it, and 19th century critics hated it. Now it's seen as a classic. P.D.Q. Bach once produced a spoof he called the "Grossest Fugue."

"Grosse Fuge," an 1827 one-piano, four-hands version, was found two years ago by a librarian cleaning old stuff from a cabinet at the Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Penn. It had been missing for 115 years.

And you're right about it being in the composer's hand. The 80-page manuscript had notes and edits in brown ink scattered across the pages. Some cross-outs are so deep the paper is punctured. It was done just months before Beethoven's death.

It was auctioned by Sotheby's in December 2005 for the equivalent of $1.95 million to an unknown buyer who turned out to be Bruce Kovner, a publicly shy billionaire. He donated it along with 139 other rare pieces of music to the Juilliard School of Music in February last year.

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Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.