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.
SOLD for £ 4.55M including premium