Beethoven, Symphony No.10 in E Flat Major, “Unfinished”


Symphony No. 10 (Beethoven/Cooper)

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


After completing the Ninth Symphony, he devoted his energies largely to composing string quartets, although there are contemporary references to some work on a symphony (e.g. in a Beethoven 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-flat 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 (originally, he had 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 “Symphony No. 10” were released in 1988, one conducted by Wyn Morris[1] and the other by Walter Weller.


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 Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Did Beethoven write a 10th symphony that was lost to history?

Did Beethoven write a 10th symphony that was lost to history? (click to access MPR article)



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