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Item 716 - Ludwig van Beethoven Catalog 448 (Mar 2015)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Minimum Bid: $2,500.00
Sold Price: $10,267.95 (includes buyer's premium)


A relatively substantial collection of several curly strands of Beethoven's hair, most appearing to be at least 3″ long. The hair has been kept in a slip of paper folded several times, captioned twice in pencil “Beethoven.” The inside bears a penciled draft for Beethoven’s funeral procession, most likely written by Anton Schindler or Stephan von Breuning, who made the preparations. Notes read in part (translated): “1. leader with staff. 2. 8 children 2 girls with candles 2 girls w/ flower baskets wherein flws. & fruit / 2 boys w/ candles 2 children with pitchforks, scythes, flowers…Soprano, Alto & Basso.” The hair is in fine condition and the folded slip in very good condition, with heavy intersecting folds and the writing a few shades light. The funeral at the Währing cemetery took place on March 29, with roughly 20,000 mourners in attendance. The eulogy was written by Franz Grillparzer and read by actor Heinrich Anschutz. Franz Xaver Stöber’s famous painting of the even shows a “leader with staff,” as described in these notes, followed by trombonists and singers, then by the children, and then by the catafalque bearing the composer’s casket.

This lock of hair was originally obtained by singer Ludwig Cramolini, who clipped the hair from Beethoven’s head the day after his death, and wrote of the event (translated): ‘On the 27th, after the rehearsal for A. Müller's operetta ‘Die erste Zusammenkunft,’ I drove to Beethoven's apartment, a small pair of scissors in my pocket. There I found Schindler [Beethoven’s friend and secretary, Anton Schindler], who had already fended off a great number of people curious to see Beethoven, but me he let pass. And so I stood before the covered corpse, which rested on long wooden boards upon chairs, as was customary in those days. In the presence of an old woman (Beethoven's housekeeper, I believe) I lifted the shroud, quickly clipped off a ringlet of hair and wanted to depart immediately, when Schindler entered. I embraced him, wept, and admitted that I had cut some hair from Beethoven's head as an eternal memento for myself and Nanette Schechner [Cramolini’s fiancée, a singer at the Vienna Opera]. Schindler behaved like a lunatic, demanded that I return the hair, said it was an insult, and all this before the body of the great Beethoven, which angered me so that I asked him to follow me into the antechamber, so that I might answer him outside the presence of the divine master; for here, I thought, it was a crime. I waited for Schindler quite a while—in vain. He failed to come, and thus I returned home and later gave Nanette Schechner some of the hair, for which she was exceedingly grateful.’ Cramolini’s story caused quite a scandal during his day and was retold in newspapers, making it one of very few verifiable accounts of provenance for a lock of Beethoven’s hair.

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