Beethoven’s 9th Fetches a Joyful Sum

It has been suggested that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the most significant work of Western music ever composed, and even today, most people on the street could hum you a bar or two of the ‘Ode to Joy’ if you asked. But the 9th is a huge score which represents something far more significant than a single pretty melody – it was one of those pieces that broke through old taboos, advanced composition into a new phase, and inspired (and intimidated) a generation of younger composers. Still, when the only known working manuscript of the 9th hit the block at Sotheby’s this week, bidding went slowly, with the score eventually selling for £2.133 million to an anonymous phone bidder. Sotheby’s had hoped for more, but the sum was one of the highest ever paid for such a work.