Symphony No. 10 (Beethoven/Cooper)

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Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 10 in E major is a hypothetical work, assembled in 1988 by Barry Cooper from Beethoven's fragmentary sketches. This title is controversial since it cannot be proven that all the sketches assembled were meant for the same piece. There is, however, consensus that Beethoven did intend another symphony.


After completing the Ninth Symphony in 1824, Beethoven devoted his energies largely to composing string quartets, although there are contemporary references to some work on a symphony (e.g. in his letter of 18 March 1827); allegedly he played a movement of this piece for his friend Karl Holz, whose description of what he heard matches the material assembled by Cooper. Cooper claimed that he found over fifty separate fragments, which he wove together to form the symphonic movement. Cooper assembled material for a first movement consisting of an Andante in E major enclosing a central Allegro in C minor. Cooper claims to have also found sketches for a Scherzo which are not developed enough to assemble into a performing version.

There are numerous references to this work in Beethoven's correspondence. (He had originally planned the Ninth Symphony to be entirely instrumental, the Ode to Joy to be a separate cantata, and the Tenth Symphony to conclude with a different vocal work.)

Earlier, in 1814–15, Beethoven also began sketches for a 6th piano concerto in D major, Hess 15. (Unlike the fragmentary symphony, the first movement of this concerto was partly written out in full score and a reconstruction by Nicholas Cook has been performed and recorded.)


Two recordings of the Cooper's reconstruction of the first movement of the "Symphony No. 10" were released in 1988, one conducted by Wyn Morris[1] and the other by Walter Weller.

The Wyn Morris recording was also released in 1988 on a disc that included the music and a spoken lecture, "The Story of Beethoven's Tenth Symphony", by Barry Cooper.[2]


An imaginary story of the discovery of Beethoven's 10th symphony has been depicted by Sue Latham in her novel The Haunted House Symphony.

Beethoven's 10th symphony plays a large plot role in Beethoven's Last Night, an album by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

NPR ran a story on the discovery of Beethoven's 10th Symphony on April Fools' Day 2012 here.

On the Wagon Train episode, "The Dr. Denker Story," Dr. Denker, played by Theodore Bikel, leads a children's "orchestra" in what he refers to as "Beethoven's 10th Symphony."


Johannes Brahms's First Symphony is sometimes referred to as "Beethoven's Tenth Symphony", after a remark by Hans von Bülow.[3][4] Both the Brahms work and Cooper's realisation of Beethoven's sketches feature C-minor 6


  1. ^ Beethoven: First Recording of Symphony No. 10 in E flat, 1st movement; London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Wyn Morris; Carlton Classics; ASIN: B000003YPG
  2. ^ "World Premiere - Beethoven Symphony No. 10"; MCA Classics; MCAD-6269
  3. ^ David Lee Brodbeck, Brahms: Symphony No. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1997): 86. "Bülow, formerly allied with Liszt and Wagner in the New German School, understood the musico-political climate of the day as well as anyone, and his reference to the "Tenth Symphony" ... could only have been calculated to incense. ... Bülow seems to be implying here that it was Brahms, not the Bayreuth master [Richard Wagner], who could rightfully claim Beethoven's mantle."
  4. ^ Norman del Mar, Conducting Brahms. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1993): 1. "And when at last he [Brahms] allowed it [his Symphony No. 1] to appear, he was very tetchy over the admittedly banal remarks about it being Beethoven's Tenth."

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