Containing many revisions and two distinct endings, the manuscript dates from 1928-29 and incorporates several passages cut from later versions.
A cornerstone of the violinist’s repertoire, it was one of two rhapsodies composed around the same time and intended for performance at his own concerts with the Hungarian violinists Josef Szigeti and Zoltan Szekely – the latter getting first choice and opting for the Second Rhapsody.
Practically all of Bartok’s autograph manuscript scores descended to his sons and are now located in Budapest or the Sacher Institut in Basel.
The following lot in the November 28 sale, offering 43 letters sent in the years 1925-40 by Bartok to Szekely, one of his closest friends and collaborators, sold at £60,000.
Autograph music by Handel, says Sotheby’s, is perhaps the rarest of all where the great Western composers are concerned, and widely regarded as unobtainable on the open market. The great majority of his manuscripts were bequeathed to King George III in the 1780s and now reside in the British Library.
Bid to £145,000 at Sotheby’s, however, was a single leaf bearing part of an aria for a soprano castrato that he is thought to have intended to add to a 1734, revised edition of the score of Il pastor fido.
The leaf has made two or three previous auction appearances at Sotheby’s – the most recent in a 2005 sale, when the price was £100,000.
An autograph sketchleaf for Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No.3 in D, comprising revisions to the last movement made in 1888, was sold at £50,000, and dating from the very same year, a sketchleaf for ‘Totdenfeier’, the early version of the first movement of Mahler’s Symphony No.2, realised £65,000.
Liszt student song
Musical highlights of a Christie’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) sale of December 13 included a rediscovered complete draft of the orchestral and choral score for Franz Liszt’s Gaudeamus Igitur, a familiar and rousing student song composed for the 1870 centenary of the ‘Academic Concerts’ held at the University of Jena.
Bearing the composer’s private cypher ‘signature’ to Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the Polish noblewoman with whom he enjoyed a 40-year relationship, the whereabouts of this manuscript has been unknown since 1931, when it was recorded as in the hands of musicologist Fritz Stein.
The reappearance after some 90 years of this extensively annotated and revised version of the score is, at 21pp, one of the longer Liszt manuscripts to have come onto the market in recent years and it sold well over estimate at £90,000.
Sold for £28,000 in a Russian section of the King Street sale was what appears to be the only letter in Modest Mussorgsky’s hand to have come to auction.
Dating from August 1879, the 16pp letter he sent to an aunt is filled with impressions, gossip and anecdotes inspired by a tour along the Dneiper that the alcoholically troubled composer made in company with an old friend, the contralto Daria Mikhailovna Leonova. He was acting as her accompanist on a tour of south central Russia, Ukraine and the Crimea.