In some printings of Beethoven's complete piano sonatas there are thematic overviews, i. e. a page with the first beats. There are also numbers, e. g. besides op. 2, no. 1 it reads "10", besides op. 2, no. 3 it reads "13 1/2". What do these numbers mean? See here (second page)



1 Answer 1


Those are prices. Those first two pages are basically ads for other sheet music you can buy from the same publisher. It’s like Siri/Google recommendations (“based on your playing history”) 100 years ago.

  • If this is correct, sheet music was rather pricey in those days. Here's an 1875 Montgomery Ward catalogue for comparison; the Hammerklavier sonata costs more than a large leather trunk with a canvas cover (page 81): archive.org/details/catalogueno13spr00mont/page/10/mode/2up. In my research I also found a bootleg edition of Tom Sawyer that sold for $2.75 but I couldn't find the price of the authorized edition.
    – phoog
    May 17, 2021 at 14:58
  • Yes, but the answer of @Todd Wilcox is plausible. I never would have come to this because of the notation with fractions "1/2". (BTW: On page 20 of the link provided they write "Price $1.50" and not "$1 1/2").
    – ubuntuuser
    May 17, 2021 at 15:42
  • @phoog If it’s old enough we don’t know whether those were dollars or cents. Although US half cent coins were only minted through 1857 May 17, 2021 at 16:08

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