Ludwig van Beethoven
Instrumentation: Harmoniemusik (2 oboe, 2 clarinet, 2 horn, 2 bassoon, cpntrabassoon)
Difficulty: Level 4, Medium
Beethoven’s publisher, Steiner, when given a new work by Beethoven would usually advertise that they had the new work for, as in this case, orchestra but they would at the same time advertise that they had this work available for piano, piano four-hand, string quartet, Harmoniemusik, etc … many versions. None of these existed but if a customer came to the store and wanted the string quartet version, Steiner would have someone make such a version and sell it to the customer. So the original advertisement for the 7th Symphony mentioned a version for Harmoniemusik. Since no one had found such a printed set of parts in any library in Europe it was supposed that this was just another phoney ad and that no such version was ever made.
Then an engineer in the Netherlands, Willem Middelhoven, an amateur horn player and amateur musicologist, was one day reading old newspapers in a library in Berlin when he saw a brief notice that the town band in Essen was going to perform an original wind version of the Beethoven 7th. He goes to Essen, checks the state library there — nothing. Then to the university library — nothing. But this last conversation at the music desk was overheard by a janitor sweeping the floor. He came over and said that he had a friend, now dead, who was the conductor of this old civic band and that his son still lived and might know something.
So Middelhoven goes to the address of the son — no one home. The next door neighbor says the son works until 5:00pm and so Middelhoven parks in front of the house and waits until the son returns. The son, himself now 70, said yes, his father was the conductor but upon his death the family threw out his entire collection of band music, saving only one early work as a souvenir. “May I see it?” Out comes the only surviving Steiner publication of the parts for the 7th Symphony arranged for Harmoniemusik. They were unquestionably done from the autograph score of Beethoven.