"The item itself has a fascinating collecting story," said Sindlarova, curator. "The whole story reflects the history of Central Europe in the last 200 years."
Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the greatest music composers in the history of Western music. He has created about 722 works which are still enjoyed by many. And one will be amused to know that a musical manuscript that was handwritten by Beethoven is being returned to its actual owners.
Petscheks, was the family which owned the manuscript before World War II. They were the richest family back then in Czechoslovakia, they had to flee the country due to Holocaust. The family was in the mining and banking business, and details of how they got ownership of the manuscript is unknown.
Czech museum to return Beethoven manuscript saved from the Nazis to its rightful owners - Petscheks, once the richest family in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, fled the country to escape the Holocaust.— NEWS MAKER (@NEWS_MAKER) December 4, 2022
Meanwhile, the Moravian Museum in the Czech city of Brno had the manuscript for more than 80 years. The score ended up in the museum to protect it from getting stolen by the Nazis. Museum curator Simona Sindelarova told HurriyetDailyNews that it was “one of the most precious items” in their collection. The manuscript has the fourth movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet n B-flat Major, Op.130.
In 1939, when the Petchek family requested for the piece to be sent abroad by mail. The effort failed during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. It drew the attention of Gestapo. It was then that an "expert from the Moravian Land Museum was called in to verify the authenticity of the autograph," said Sindlarova. "He immediately recognized its veracity, but in order to protect it from the occupiers, he and others involved denied it was authentic." It worked and the Germans allowed the museum to keep the piece.
However, during that time, the family’s businesses and possessions were taken over by the Nazis and after the war, it was nationalized by the Communist regime. The family had tried to get the manuscript back later but it didn’t work out after the post-war division of Europe. The museum said that a local restitution law on property stolen by the German Nazis is making the return possible now. Moreover, the museum is putting the manuscript on display for five days before returning it to the owners.
Sindlarova said, "The item itself has a fascinating collecting story." "The whole story reflects the history of Central Europe in the last 200 years," according to EuroNews.culture. Beethoven composed the six-movement quartet between 1825 and 1826. It was part of his work on a series of late quartets which was commissioned by Russian Prince Nicholas Galitzin. It premiered in March 1826. It is reported that Beethoven, who died in 1827, gave the fourth movement to his secretary Karl Holz, before Petcheks and two other private owners had it with them. Museums, archives, and libraries, in five countries like the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, and the US, have about 300 pages of the entire autograph with them.
Finally, on August 3 this year, a deal was signed to get the ownership from the museum to the heirs. "Absolutely, it rightly belongs to the Petscheks. It is a question of what will be next. A new chapter of this fascinating collector's story is here," said Sindlarova. The London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe had said that “despite the Terezin Declaration on restituted artworks, the prospect of looted art being returned was distant." However, its guidelines had asked to make it easier for foreign nationals to get back their properties.