The writings of  Richard Kluger

Beethoven’s Tenth

About the Book

Published 2018 by Rare Bird Books, Inc.


When a New Jersey man of modest means shows up at the posh Manhattan auction house of Cubbage & Wakeham with a tattered manuscript he claims to have found in the attic of his lately deceased grandfather’s house in Zurich, he is greeted with supreme skepticism. The document appears to be the complete draft of a previously unknown symphony, composed 200 years earlier by the universally acknowledged master of that musical form, Ludwig van Beethoven. C&W’s owners decide to risk their firm’s sterling reputation—and becoming an international laughingstock—by investigating whether the William Tell Symphony, as it is identified on its title page, is the genuine article, potentially worth countless millions in performance and recording rights, or a brilliant hoax.

Although there is voluminous archival documentation of every aspect of Ludwig van Beethoven’s life, a curious gap exists in the record—a two-month period in the summer of 1814 when the maestro’s whereabouts and activities are unknown. It was in this period, according to letters found with the Tell manuscript, that Beethoven made a secret visit to Zurich for treatment to cure his almost total deafness and, while there, busied himself composing a stirring symphonic tribute to the Swiss folk hero who rebelled against Austrian tyranny. But why would Beethoven have undertaken such a radical departure from the previous eight symphonies he had written by that time—and, equally baffling, why would he then have abandoned such an ambitious work?

To track down the answers becomes the consuming assignment of Mitchell Emery, in charge of authentication for Cubbage & Wakeham, who remains stubbornly resistant even as a mountain of forensic evidence and the collective opinion of the world’s foremost Beethoven scholars point to the manuscript’s legitimacy. But Mitch’s wife, Clara, pursuing her PhD in musicology at Columbia University and drawn reluctantly into her husband’s quest, is slowly transformed from complete scoffer to true believer in Tell’s genuineness. Beethoven’s Tenth narrates the deepening intrigue and danger that engulf the Emerys, amid a growing worldwide furor, as they interact with a gallery of rogues – in Zurich, Berlin, and London as well as New York—whose shadowy dealings threaten to destroy Mitch and Clara’s marriage, reduce Cubbage & Wakeham to financial ruin, and besmirch even Beethoven’s standing as a peerless cultural icon.




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©2017 Richard Kluger