The only surviving first edition of Beethoven's only opera will be on sale in London

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The only surviving first edition of Beethoven's only opera will be on sale in London

The only surviving first edition of Beethoven's only opera Fidelio, inscribed by the composer, and believed lost for many years, will be on sale at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair.

Only three copies of this first edition of the opera with Beethoven’s autograph are known.  This one is inscribed on the title page, in Beethoven's own hand, to

his benefactor Pasqualati (1777-1830), in whose house the composer then lodged: "Seinem werthen Freunde Baron von Pasqualati vom Verfasser" 

("To his dear friend Baron Pasqualati, from the author").

For many years, the score belonged to the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna.  It was presented to the conductor Arturo Toscanini by the Austrian Government on 1 November 1934 on the occasion of a performance of Verdi's 'Requiem', directed by him.

It was known that Toscanini owned the score. The last sighting of it was at the 1927 exhibition commemorating the centennial of Beethoven’s death.  

When the estate of Toscanini's daughter Wanda Toscanini Horowitz came up for sale in 1999 (Sotheby's NY) there was no sign of it. The last big sale of Toscanini’s estate was in 2012, in London: Stephen Roe of Sotheby's announced this as "the last substantial property that’s ever likely to come directly from Toscanini".  

Its omission from the sale was noted by the auction house as well as by collectors and institutions, and it was considered to be lost (as are the other two dedication copies of "Fidelio" described in the catalogue of Beethoven's works).  

Further items from Toscanini’s estate were sold at a provincial auction in the States in Spring 2016. It was a mixture of odds and ends, simply the residue of a formerly great collection – apart from the missing score. It will be on sale at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair, 26th to 28th May, for £215,000.

The London International Antiquarian Book Fair also features an incredibly rare portrait of author Jane Austen in a liber amicorum (friendship book).

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