Among the manuscripts are Beethoven's arrangement of his Grosse Fuge for piano four hands, discovered last year in the basement of a seminary in Philadelphia, and other handwritten or hand-annotated scores by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Wagner, and other composers.
According to Juilliard, Kovner, a leading commodities trader, has spend the last decade anonymously buying manuscripts of important works that give insight into the composing process or the contributions of conductors and performers. He was apparently the anonymous buyer who purchased the Grosse Fuge manuscript for Ô£1.1 million ($1.9 million) in December 2005 at Sotheby's in London.
"It has been great fun to find these manuscripts and pull them together into this collection," Kovner said. "I trust that what we are doing at the school will make it possible for Juilliard students and scholars to delve into the compositional processes of these great composers— and share them with the rest of the world."
The manuscripts will be housed in a newly built reading room at Juilliard, due to be completed by fall 2009, which will be open to researchers and musicians by appointment. Eventually, they will be digitized for access through the Internet.
In addition to the Grosse Fuge manuscript, the collection includes a score of Bach's cantata "Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding" with the composer's markings that was also sold at Sotheby's last year; the earliest surviving manuscripts of Pucell's Dido and Aeneas and The Tempest; the autograph score (that is, a score in the composer's hand) of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor"); a working autograph score of part of Wagner's Tannh‹user; an autograph draft for a section of Mahler's Ninth Symphony; and the 500-page autograph manuscript for Offenbach's La vie parissienne.