Musical Instrument 2nd page
See also : Musical instrument Instrument and equipment Archaic China Song and Yuan Later Ming Movies II Music hall The Beatles
Chronology : 1-1000 1000-1150 1700-1719 1740-1749 1942
756 - Gods, Sages and Emperors
2011 SOLD 115 M RMB yuan by China Guardian
The qin is the traditional Chinese plucked string instrument. The antique variants are now designated as guqin.
The guqin is the first of the four treasures of the scholar, ahead of Chinese go, calligraphy and ink painting. It was known since ancient times and the Chinese tradition likes to assign it with a pre-dynastic origin. Confucius is quoted among the sages who improved the instrument.
The classical seven-string guqin provides a music of great subtlety facilitated by the dots of harmony distributed on the surface. The wooden back is also an invitation to the inscription of poems.
The Imperial guqins are of great rarity. One of them named Da Sheng Yi Yin (reminiscent of the great sage) was sold for RMB yuan 115 million by China Guardian in 2011.
It was produced for or by the Emperor Suzong of the Tang. Lacquered in black and brown, it wears a poem and a seal and its harmonics match the months of the Chinese calendar. Its date is corresponding to 756 in our own calendar. Both sides are illustrated in an article shared by China Daily.
Da Sheng Yi Yin is again announced by China Guardian in the autumn sales held in Beijing from 16 to 20 November. (see comment below)
In December 2010, Poly sold for RMB yuan 137 million including premium (US $ 20.7 million in the conversion rate of that time) an imperial Song guqin made for the Emperor Huizong in 1120 of our calendar.
PRE 2013 SALE COMMENT
This lot is not confirmed in the catalogue. My announcement was probably a misinterpretation of an early press release.
2010 SOLD 3.8 M RMB yuan including premium
It is unique, and it could even be considered unbelievable, to find on the market a musical instrument more than one thousand years old. Yet the Chinese zither for sale by Poly International Auction on June 4 in Beijing is dated to the Tang Dynasty or to the period of anarchy known as the Five Dynasties that followed the fall of the Tang.
This is a guqin (ancient stringed instrument), and more specifically one of its most common variants, the qixianqin (seven-stringed instrument). 1.18 m high, 19 cm wide, it is close to the zither by its flat sound box, 5 cm deep only. It is lacquered in brown, with Chinese inscriptions on the back.
The music goes back to immemorial time, and our time has not the privilege of harmony and refinement. The guqin was the instrument of the wise men, and is often associated with Confucius.
This instrument is estimated 2.8 million RMB.
POST SALE COMMENT
The oldest of the four string instruments of the sale has been sold 3.8 MRMB including premium. This is the lot which I described in my article.
A little more recent, a qin from Song period was sold 5.8 MRMB. Still closer to our time, a Yuan instrument got 2.5 MRMB and a Ming one 5 MRMB. These prices include premium.
Without being an expert in Chinese sales, I think that this set was exceptional.
1120 Guqin (plucked string instrument) for Song emperor Huizong
2010 SOLD 137 M RMB yuan including premium by Poly
1575 A Viola da Gamba from Brescia
2010 SOLD 540 K$ including premium
This piece is neither a big violin nor a small cello: it is a viola. It can possibly also be used as a viola da gamba, a word of Italian origin meaning that it has to be held on the lap or between the legs, unlike the violin.
Its earliness is assessed by the fact that it has only four strings, and is confirmed by a dendrochronology test mentioned by the catalog of Christie's. Its resemblance to the violin is typical of the sixteenth century Italian viola. It is illustrated in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity.
Its dating to 1575 is consistent with its label identifying the instrument maker Gasparo da Salo, working in Brescia, who was the best viola manufacturer in his time. Not far away, in Cremona, Andrea Amati was already working to perfect the violin.
This instrument is for sale in New York on April 28. It is estimated $ 250K.
POST SALE COMMENT
This viola had been used by a professional, which is an assurance of its good condition. It was better than its estimate, and was sold 540 K $ including premium.
The other top lot of the sale got the same price, 540 K $ including premium. It was a violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini in Milan around 1753. It had been estimated $ 350K.
later Ming - Guqin (plucked string instrument)
2010 SOLD 58 M RMB yuan by Suzhou Wumen Auction Company
1715 pair of Kangxi Dragon ritual bells
2009 SOLD for HK$ 45.5M including premium by Christie's
1743 The Carillons of the Qing
2015 SOLD for $ 1.2M including premium
Drouot auction still pending
The Chinese music, based on a twelve-tone scale, was codified at the time of Confucius. The sound depends on the material of the instrument. The bronze bells or bianzhong constitute chimes. They are suspended from porticoes and struck with mallets. Within a carillon all bells have the same height and it is the thickness of the metal that generates the variety of tones.
Music is the supreme art that offers a perfect interpretation of all elements of nature including yin and yang. The imperial bianzhong are dated, as are the guqin.
In the Qing era, an imperial carillon is composed of sixteen bells including four repeated tones in high and low octaves. The gilt bronze bells are decorated with dragons in high relief.
On May 27, 2009, Christie's sold for HK $ 45.5M including premium a pair of 30 cm high bells giving the 4th and 11th notes, dated Kangxi wushisi nian shi corresponding to 1715 CE.
On December 16 in Paris (Hôtel Drouot), Tessier et Sarrou sell a 21 cm high bell dated Kangxi bing shen nian zhi corresponding to 1716 CE. It is set for the huang zhong which is the basic tone of the scale. The dragons are imperial, with five claws per paw.
A 27.3 cm high bell that had belonged to William Randolph Hearst was sold for $ 1.2M including premium by Sotheby's on September 15, 2015, lot 160. It provides the 10th note that operates in the lower octave and is very heavy, almost 15 kg. It is dated on the 8th year of Qianlong corresponding to 1743 CE. I narrated it before that auction in this column. It is estimated £ 800K for sale by Christie's in London on November 5, lot 85. Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
Coming from another set of the same year, a 21 cm high bianzhong giving the 6th note was sold for HK $ 33M including premium by Christie's on May 27, 2008. The 10th bell of that chime was sold for HK $ 17.4M including premium by Christie's on June 3, 2015.
Christie's : unsold
Drouot : waiting for auction day
L'étude @TSarrou met en vente une cloche impériale bianzhong de la dynastie #Qing en bronze doré, estimée 200 000-300 000 €.— Drouot (@Drouot) November 4, 2019
Il s'agit de la 1ère apparition de cet objet sur le marché car conservé par la famille de Semallé depuis son arrivée en France ! https://t.co/k06H4gCFjz
1745 Legacy from the Second Tree
2016 SOLD for HK$ 56M including premium
Hongli has become the Qianlong emperor. The second wutong tree passes in its turn during the ninth year of the new reign. Qianlong orders by imperial decree that the wood of the old tree is used to make four qin.
The qin was honored under the Tang and the Song as the first in the list of the four treasures of the scholar. This luxurious zither with seven plucked strings offered the ultimate Chinese music. During the Qing dynasty, the qin is a scarce instrument that revives the past.
The realization of the four Qianlong qin is documented in considerable detail in the imperial books. Each of them is marked with another imperial poem. They are delivered to the Emperor on the 20th day of the 10th month of the 11th year of the reign, during the year 1745 of our calendar. One of the four qin survived. It is estimated HK $ 25M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on October 5, lot 3605.
This tall instrument 1 m in overall length with cinnabar lacquered outer walls was conceived for prestige. It was sparingly played and remains in great condition.
1903 The Favorite Organ of Milhous Brothers
2012 SOLD 1.26 M$ including premium
For selecting the piece to be presented here, I let the brothers talk. In the general video introduction of the sale, between 0:50 and 1:15, they reveal their favorite instrument, a fairground organ manufactured in 1903 by Ruth and sons in Waldkirch.
This small town in the Black Forest of Baden-Württemberg was a capital city of this specialty and Bruder and Ruth were the two major brands. Limonaire, the French manufacturer of street organs, also operated a plant in the town.
The Style 38-B is one of the largest mechanical organs ever built: 5.20 x 2.70 x 1.70 m. Its facade is richly sculpted with figures of Baroque musicians, not to omit the angels playing trumpets. According to the catalog, only two examples arein existence. The Milhous organ is estimated $ 1M.
POST SALE COMMENT
The favorite instrument of Milhous brothers exceeded its lower estimate. It was sold at $ 1.1 million hammer price. This is a great result in its category.
Here is the video quoted above, shared by RM Auctions on YouTube.
1910 A Piano between Louis XV and Art Déco
2015 sold for $ 550k including premium
In the mean time it had twice failed to sell at Christie's in London, on October 28, 2014 and March 11, 2015. In the next sale at Sotheby's it is included in a consistent group of 19th and early 20th century furniture that enables to expect a result most suited to this rare and interesting instrument.
Here is my 2012 discussion :
The work of François Linke is an important transition between classical and modern styles with regard to Parisian furniture.
In the late nineteenth century, cabinet makers copied the furniture of the previous century. Edouard Lièvre was the first to look for new paths. When he died in 1886, the Austrian-born Linke was already installed in Paris since five years.
Linke continues to be inspired by the eighteenth century, while adding much freedom in the details of the opulent shapes and of the ormolu decorations.
His work can be compared to that of his contemporaries in Nancy, Majorelle and Gallé. By the care taken in the beauty of wood, he is also one of the immediate predecessors of Art Déco.
The lot for sale is a grand piano by Erard cased by Linke in 1910 in a model identified as Piano Louis XV in his price list. It is inlaid with kingwood and satiné.The gilt bronze figures in rococo style are derived from the models by Léon Messagé, died in 1901, who had been one of Linke's most frequent collaborators.
1913 Wotan, the God of the Dance Halls
2012 SOLD 1.1 M$ including premium
Bob-Lo was one of these parks. Bob was not Robert! It was a phonetic corruption of Bois Blanc Island, Ontario. In 1913, to attract people of Detroit, the great city on the other side of the river, Bob-Lo opens a dance pavilion of 3200 square meters, one of the largest halls in the world.
For sound, the dance hall of Bob-Lo installs the largest of all the orchestrions, the Wotan model of the German company Welte.
Founded in 1832, Welte was one of the best specialists of mechanical musical instruments, and planned at that time to capture the American market. This effort will be made impossible by the First World War.
The Wotan of Bob-Lo is huge: 4.20 x 4.80 x 1.80 m, with no less than 419 pipes, not to mention bells and drums. Like all machine orchestra of that time, it was neglected for many years. The restoration of the decoration was inspired by the single other surviving Wotan copy.
Star lot of the Milhous collection, this instrument is estimated $ 1.5 million, for sale on February 25 in Boca Raton by RM Auctions in association with Sotheby's.
POST SALE COMMENT
Three results in the million dollars including fees were recorded in this sale on ancient instruments of mechanical music.
The fairground organ Ruth Style 38-B, also discussed in this group, was sold $ 1.26 million.
The dance organ by Gaudin reached exactly $ 1 million hammer price, 1.15 million including premium.
The Welte Wotan, subject to the above discussion, was sold for $ 1.1 million including premium.
A good point for the owners: there were few reserve prices, and they were below the lower estimates.
I invite you to play the video shared by RM Auctions on YouTube.
(1927)-1942 The Moroccan Piano of Casablanca
2014 SOLD for $ 3.4M including premium
The instrument was made in 1927 and stored by the First National Pictures (FNP) of which it bears an inventory mark. When it was chosen for the film, it was painted with orientalist patterns.
This instrument has a unique feature related to the requirements of the film: the lid is detached from the case in order to enable the gesture of the actor who hides inside it some coveted papers.
This piano with its original stool is lot 83 in the sale of souvenirs of the American cinema organized on November 24 by Bonhams in New York with the participation of Turner Classic Movies.
There is another Casablanca piano, screen used in a flashback scene located in Paris. This instrument of the "Belle Aurore" was sold for $ 600K including premium by Sotheby's on December 14, 2012.
1942 The Retrieved Tempo of Casablanca
2012 SOLD 600 K$ including premium
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman meet in a Parisian café. The pianist sings 'As time goes by', fascinating and encouraging these two young people.
The second act takes place in 1982. A collector cleans a recently purchased piano. He had felt it right : he actually rediscovered the instrument of the Parisian scene of Casablanca. This 58 keys piano made by Richardson's in Los Angeles bears an inventory reference from Warner Bros.
In the third act in 1988, Sotheby's sells the piano for $ 154K, a very good price at that time for a movie prop. David Redden holds the hammer.
24 years later, the same scene is replayed. Redden will again offer this piano, now estimated $ 800K, on December 14 at Sotheby's in New York.
The Parisian café scene is one of the most iconic in film history. In 1982, a violin pays the funeral tribute to Ingrid Bergman by playing for her for the last time the melody of 'As time goes by'.
I invite you to play the video shared by CBS News.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price for this small piano, $ 600K including premium, but well below the expectations of the auction house.
1963 Ringo on Drums
2015 SOLD for $ 2.1M including premium
The Beatles reach the top position in the hit parade in February 1963. They now require the best instruments, not only for guitars. In April, Epstein and Starr choose together a three piece drum kit of Ludwig brand in a London specialized shop.
Ringo takes possession of his new instrument on May 12. The activity of the Beatles is intense and even frantic. Between that date and February 4 of the following year, Ringo uses his Ludwig drums in 200 live performances and 180 studio recordings, covering all titles from this period of great enthusiasm preceding their trip to America.
The Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl kit was retained by Ringo and has not been seen in public for half a century. However, it was used in part in 1969 and 1970 by Paul McCartney when he recorded his first solo albums.
The prestigious drum kit of Ringo Starr is estimated $ 300K, lot 696 for sale on December 4. I invite you to watch the video shared by Julien's.