1628 Van Dyck and the Musicians
2014 SOLD for £ 2.9M including premium
The portraits of musicians made by Van Dyck in Antwerp benefit from this dual influence of Rubens and Titian. The singers were at the same time a favorite theme of the Utrecht Caravaggians but van Dyck, looking for an aristocratic clientele, was certainly not primarily interested at cabarets.
Of Dutch origin, Hendrick Liberti was a singer and composer. His portrait was probably commissioned to van Dyck on the occasion of his appointment as organist of the Cathedral of Antwerp in 1628. It is not dated, but its dimensions, 114 x 88 cm, are similar to those of the portrait of the English musician Nicholas Lanier who was in Antwerp in 1628. The two oil paintings belonged a few years later to the fabulous royal collection of Charles I where they were probably hanging side by side.
The portrait of Liberti is for sale by Christie's in London on December 2, lot 13 estimated £ 2.5M. Less than 30 years old, the young musician is shown in mid length. He holds a sheet of music in an inspired attitude.
1740 Improvisation for Lautenwerk
2016 SOLD for £ 2.5M including premium
This document is a masterpiece of spontaneity that brings us into the creative process of the most gifted musician. It was probably written in improvisation on the two sides of a reused sheet music. The sheet was later separated into two parts, presumably to facilitate its use.
The musical writing is easy but the creative impulse just missed to overflow the surface of the paper. The sheet is signed and titled in a poor French "Prelude (Fuga, Allegro) pour la Luth ô Cembal". The manuscript is complete of its three movements.
This music was composed for a solo instrument. The BWV classes it amidst the works for lute but Christie's catalog observes that this opus was not fully compatible with the lutes of its time.
It was probably intended for a Lautenwerk, an instrument similar to a harpsichord whose metal strings were replaced with gut strings plucked by quills. The mellow tone of a Lautenwerk supports a fast and playful music. The allegro of BWV998 can be danced.
BWV998 may be dated around 1740, at a time when Bach confronted the Lautenwerk with the lute for his friends. He owned two Lautenwerk. Besides his skilled hands, this instrument was never popular and disappeared almost completely. TheLautenwerck page in Wikipedia offers a recording of BWV998 on a recreated Lautenwerk.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's:
1770 Mozart in Verona
2019 SOLD for € 4M including premium
The father, Leopold, is a musician. He wants to give keyboard lessons to his seven year old daughter Nannerl. The boy, three years old, approaches and begins to play flawlessly with a visible pleasure. His first instrument will be a harpsichord.
From 1763 to 1766 the Mozart family makes a grand tour of concerts in Northern Europe including very long stays in Paris and London. The young musician is very receptive to the styles of the local composers.
It remains for the Mozarts to conquer Italy, where the reputation of the young prodigy has preceded them. It is for this trip started in December 1769 that he changes Theophilus for its Latin translation Amadeus. He will be 14 years old on January 27, 1770.
The first important step is Verona. The organ concert of January 5, 1770 is a total success, acclaimed by the local press. He is for two weeks a host to the local official representative of the Republic of Venice, Pietro Lugiati.
They must keep a memory of these wonderful moments. Lugiati has Wolfgang Amadeus pose in his music room for a local painter who has not been identified. The teenager sits with his hands on the keyboard of an ancient harpsichord that most likely belongs to Lugiati. He is turning his head to look at the artist, which creates a remarkable portrait almost in full face. The musical sheet on the harpsichord is perfectly decipherable but has not been identified.
This oil on canvas 70 x 57 cm remained in Verona until 1856. It now comes from the collection of the pianist Alfred Cortot who died in 1962. It is estimated € 800K for sale by Christie's in Paris on November 27, lot 217. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1773-1774 Nine Symphonies by Mozart
1987 SOLD for £ 2.5M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
These documents have a common charasteristic : all the dates were crossed out for some unidentified reason, probably to make it believe to another date, perhaps by the composer himself or by someone with access to his estate.
Volume 3 contained the Köchel symphonies 162, 181 to 184 and 199 to 202. According to Köchel, they were composed in 1773 and 1774 and some are located in Salzburg. At that time relations were deteriorating between Mozart, who was not yet 18, and his employer the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg who wanted to restrict his freedom of composition and his travels. An inspection of the dating residues with a x8 magnifying glass, published in 2015 by The Musical Times, is consistent with Köchel's dating.
This volume was sold for £ 2.5M including premium by Sotheby's on May 22, 1987. The symphonies are on loan to the Morgan Library in New York and are now individually bound.
1772 The Beginning of the Mass
2014 SOLD 580 K£ including premium
On May 20 in London, Sotheby's sells the autograph manuscript of a Kyrie for four-part chorus and orchestra by Wolfgang 'Amadeus' Mozart, lot 199 estimated £ 300K. This unfinished work includes five pages in four sheets (three pages are blank) on a 23 x 30 cm format with twelve staves per page.
The document is neither signed nor dated. The handwriting analysis dates it precisely in 1772 during a few months spent in Salzburg when Wolfgang was 16.
The missed target of Leopold's trips to Italy with his brilliant son was to obtain for both of them a prestigious musical position in one of the many princely courts. Their come back to Salzburg after the second and penultimate trip coincides unexpectedly with the death of the archbishop who was for nearly twenty years the care taking patron of Leopold.
In Italy, Wolfgang showed the extent of his know how without neglecting religious music. It is logical that sacred music caught the attention of his father and himself during the interregnum at Salzburg.
Unfinished manuscripts are common throughout the career of Wolfgang They demonstrate his continuous attention to his work as a composer.
This manuscript narrowly missed to be lost. In 1938, a Jewish musician from Munich fleeing Nazi Germany purchases it in order to own a property that is more discreet than a big amount of money. He separates the title page certainly with the intention to reassemble the document in South America. The title page disappears when the ship that carried it is torpedoed.
POST SALE COMMENT
The autograph manuscripts in several pages by Mozart have become rare on the market. This one was sold for £ 580K including premium.
1808 A Creation by Beethoven
2016 SOLD for £ 380K including premium
A musical autograph is surfacing from the collection of a bibliophile. This draft document consisting of two pages 20 x 30 cm with 15 staves per page is estimated £ 150K for sale by Sotheby's in London on October 20, lot 12.
This previously unknown piece helps to understand Beethoven's creative process here applied to his 5th Piano Concerto in E flat major. The composer wants freedom, in music and in politics. In this opus 73 he reinforces the role of the soloist in the face of the accompaniment and lengthens the duration.
The design phase of this concerto extends over several months, in an atmosphere of fear of war and hatred against the Napoleonic empire. The draft certainly laid down in the late 1808 interweaves the ideas that will lead to the first and final movement of the concerto, demonstrating that early in that new project the maestro had an overall vision of his future opus.
The concerto is completed in 1809 but Beethoven can not interpret it by himself due to his increasing hearing disability. This very innovative work that could not leave indifferent the music lovers gets a mixed reception two years later with a triumph in Leipzig and doubts in Vienna.
Beethoven created in this opus 73 the structure of the symphonic concerto that will so much inspire Liszt and Brahms. However he is frustrated by his infirmity and will not prepare another concerto. The name of Emperor Concerto popularly given to this opus displeases the maestro.
1830-1851 The Album Musicorum of Aloys Fuchs
2018 SOLD for € 585K including premium
His intense social activity is productive : the best musicians of this great period come to discuss with him what their colleagues are doing. A musical autograph sketch by Beethoven traded and inscribed in 1831 by Fuchs to Chopin was sold for € 250K including premium by Sotheby's on October 17, 2012.
In 1830 Fuchs took a 22 x 18 cm music notebook of 170 pages with eight staves per page to begin his Album on the model of an album amicorum. All the outstanding musicians of his time thus inscribed therein one or more pages of music, but only once per author. Mendelssohn, also a keen collector of musical autographs, was one of the first to write in the album.
The interest for a musicologist to compare the best musicians in a single document is obvious. In 1832 he inserts the manuscript of a song written by Beethoven who had died in 1827. Schumann publishes this opus in 1839 after having consulted it in the album.
The 170 pages are insufficient for that Fuchs project. He inserts additional folios. In 1851 the album reaches 218 pages handwritten and signed by 112 composers. A few blank pages indicate that Fuchs had not finished when he died in 1853.
The Musikalisches Album of Aloys Fuchs is estimated € 500K for sale by Ader-Nordmann for OVA Aristophil at Paris Hôtel Drouot on June 20, lot 1198.
Aloys FUCHS— Ader Nordmann (@AderNordmann) June 1, 2018
Musical Album "Musikalisches Album"
Collection of 12 composers and musicians manuscripts 1817-1850
Estimate 500 000 / 700 000 euros #Beethoven #Chopin #Schumann #Rossini #Schubert #musicalalbum #Aristophil
@AlbumClassic @operadeparis @BaltSymphony @koelnmusik pic.twitter.com/LKobfYTrEA
1835 The Autograph of Melusine
2012 SOLD 430 K£ including premium
Felix Mendelssohn was a child prodigy. His first symphonies for strings, written at the age of 12 years, already showa great maturity, and he wrote at age 17 (in 1826) The Dream of a Summer Night, a scenic music considered as one of his masterpieces.
His place in the history of music is considerable. Goethe compared him to Mozart whom he had met, but Mendelssohn is also and especially known for his revival of Bach's music. Schumann admired his genius.
Throughout his short life, his concert overtures demonstrate his desire to compose for theater. The autograph manuscript of The Fair Melusine (Konzert-Ouvertüre zum Märchen von der Schönen Melusine) is estimated £ 400K, for sale by Sotheby's in London on November 28.
This working document close to the final version of the overture is a precious assessment of the composition process of Mendelssohn. Written in Leipzig in 1835, it includes 45 pages of music. Here is the link to the catalog.
This lot comes from the family of Arturo Toscanini to whom it had been presented by Rudolf Serkin.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding autograph manuscript was sold £ 430K including premium.
1844-1853 The Transfiguration of Robert Schumann
2011 SOLD 710 K£ including premium
2018 SOLD for € 650K including premium
The legend of Faust is the subject of two plays by Goethe, in 1809 and 1832. The first part is dedicated to the pact with the Devil and the second part to the struggle between Good and Evil for the possession of the soul of the alchemist.
The centennial of the birth of the poet will take place in 1849. The second part of Faust is Goethe's swan song, like a posthumous link between romanticism and mysticism. Robert Schumann knows that he has the skills to set this transfiguration into music. Not very gifted for the opera, he begins an oratorio in July 1844.
In the autumn of the same year Schumann suffers from a severe depression with auditory hallucinations that will reappear in the last years of his short life. He reworks his Szenen aus Goethes Faust in 1847 and 1848.
His scene of the final act was thus played in the celebrations of the centennial but the composer is not satisfied. For his oratorio to be better understood, he gradually adds until 1853 some scenes from the first play and modifies the opening in August of that year. The oratorio is completed but Schumann falls soon afterward in his final madness.
From 1844 to 1853 Schumann worked on a single draft gradually increased in various paper formats. This musical autograph contains the complete oratorio with many revisions including two different versions of the opening and of the chorus mysticus.
This 122 page document shows the culmination of the creative process of Robert Schumann, one of the most genuine composers of the romantic passion. It was sold for £ 710K including premium by Sotheby's on November 30, 2011, lot 173. I discussed it in this column before the sale.
It is estimated € 500K for sale on June 20 at Paris Hôtel Drouot by OVA Aristophil operated by Ader-Nordmann, lot 1231.
SCHUMANN Robert— Ader Nordmann (@AderNordmann) June 1, 2018
Musical manuscript "Skizzen zu Faust" 1844-1853
Estimate 500 000 / 600 000 euros #Schumann #classicalmusic #partition #Aristophil @deccaclassics @OperaDijon @OrchestCElysees @Glesur @BBCR3MusicBot @EMIMusicGlobal @umusicbrasil @operadeparis pic.twitter.com/GjrnBs1547
1847-1853 Manuscript of the 2nd Symphony by Robert Schumann
1994 SOLD for £ 1.5M by Sotheby's
1894 Passions for Beyond the Grave
2016 SOLD for £ 4.55M including premium
Attending von Bülow's funeral in 1894, Mahler is dazzled by the ode to the Resurrection by Klopstock. He immediately begins his second symphony in five movements starting with the symphonic poem Todtenfeier which he had composed in 1888. The next phases form a dramatic crescendo leading to the exalted fortissimo of the fifth movement.
Mahler's second symphony is monumental by its duration close to an hour and a half and by its orchestra requiring 90 musicians accompanied by choirs and by soloists in soprano and alto. The conductor Semyon Bychkov comments : “At the end of it you feel that you have arrived in heaven having gone through hell”.
In 1965 the businessman Gilbert Kaplan is in his turn overwhelmed by the second symphony. He has conductor skills which he thereafter devotes exclusively to this piece.
Written from April to December 1894, the autograph manuscript of the second symphony in 232 pages 35 x 27 cm remains complete with its reworks, its withdrawals and its additions. It has never been bound.
Coming from the deceased estate of Kaplan who had acquired it in private sale in 1984, the manuscript is estimated £ 3.5M for sale by Sotheby's in London on November 29, lot 36. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1908 The Creative Process of a Russian Symphony
2014 SOLD 1.2 M£ including premium
The early ambition of this virtuoso pianist is the symphony. In 1897, Rachmaninov's first symphony is a total failure which causes him a deep depression.
Having achieved success with works for piano, he prepares his second symphony in 1907. Directed by himself, the first performance is held in St. Petersburg on January 26, 1908, followed immediately by another one in Moscow.
The autograph manuscript of the second symphony by Rachmaninov was unknown until its unexpected arrival on the market in 2004. Purchased by a foundation, it has been on view at the British Library but has not yet been submitted to a detailed musicological study that promises to be exciting.
This document of 320 pages 35 x 26 cm extensively corrected and annotated is indeed the sole support of the entire creative process of Rachmaninov for this symphony, from his first unpublished intentions up to the corrections deemed necessary by himself after the concerts of St. Petersburg and Moscow.
This manuscript is estimated £ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in London on May 20, lot 208.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding manuscript has been sold for £ 1.2M including premium, in line with the estimate.