“Beethoven apparently presented the tuning fork in 1803 to the violinist George Bridgetower (1778–1860), who served in the private orchestra of the Prince of Wales (later George IV), and had been on leave at the time traveling around Europe. During the course of his stay in Vienna he gave the first performance of Beethoven’s latest violin sonata (later named the ‘Kreutzer’ sonata) on 24 May 1803 with the composer at the piano.
Bridgetower died at Peckham in 1860, leaving his estate to his sister-in-law, his wife having predeceased him. The tuning fork changed hands several times in the following decades, until Gustav Holst received it in 1921. After Holst’s death in 1934 it was given to his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose widow, Ursula, presented it to the British Library in 1992. The tuning fork is today preserved in a wooden box with walnut veneer, which was probably made in the late 19th or early 20th century.”