Anton Schindler spent much of his life riding on the coattails of Ludwig Van Beethoven. After Beethoven's death, not much changed. In 1844, Schindler made claims to the world that Beethoven, shortly before his death, had completed a sketch of a tenth symphony in E flat. If this were true, it would undoubtedly once again restructure the face of symphonic music. Indeed, if it were true is the main matter of our speculation here.

Since 1844, evidence supporting Schindler's claim has come to light here and there: a letter in Schindler's hand but signed by the maestro mentioning in detail a completed sketch of a tenth symphony; Karl Holz (another secretary of Beethoven's) claiming to have heard Beethoven play through a piano reduction.

However, much of the emerging information has also gone against what Schindler put before antiquity. Gustav Nottebohm dismissed the sketches Schindler lauded as nothing but passing thoughts. He was qualified to do this, being widely considered as the leading Beethoven scholar of the 19th century.

Apparently, Beethoven had sketched the openings of dozens of other "symphonies" throughout his life. Being a composer myself, I can support this line of thinking because there are always pieces of staff paper scattered hell to breakfast with mad scribblings on them.

Beethoven's notes in and of themselves are often a mystery. They are difficult to discern as anything but scratching and usually consisted of a single line without a clef, key signature, or time signature.

The debate went on for decades. In 1977 Robert Winter, through a systematic dating process of Beethoven's more than 8,000 pages of notes, insisted that with no major gap in Beethoven's productivity after the Ninth Symphony, there could be no missing major notebook containing a tenth symphony. Research and perserverance would prove him wrong.

While there was no secret notebook, the twentieth century and the technology that came along with it allowed for a greater level of deciphering and understanding of Beethoven's notes.

Several researchers either doing incidental research on his ninth symphony or his notes in general discovered cohesive sketches containing related thematic material from a period directly after the ninth symphony. As the composer's regular working patterns and creative process became clear, scholars (Dr. Barry Cooper in particular) were able to assemble what would have been the first movement of Beethoven's tenth symphony had he been well enough for long enough to do it himself. It was all present and complete; it just hadn't been laid into stone yet.

The piece itself, available from London Universal Edition, is sort of a reconstruction of one movement - it is not a new Beethoven symphony nor will it ever be. But the impression we get from studying this secret look into the genius' brain is that on the edge of this abyss, sometimes even the masters become mastered by what they see. The forms, harmonies, and developments are advanced beyond even his last three complete symphonies. They are altogether something new which still rings of the best Beethoven had to offer.

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