London announce that its sale of Continental Books and Musical Manuscripts will include rare and important manuscripts by Robert Schumann, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Benjamin Britten. Comprised of 181 lots, the sale on Wednesday 30th November 2011 is estimated to fetch in excess of £2 million. The auction will be headlined by Robert Schumanns Autograph Composing Manuscript of Szenen Aus Goethes Faust (est. £600,000-800,000). Also featured is Benjamin Brittens Autograph Working Manuscript of the Music to the Film Instruments of the Orchestra [The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra Op. 34], undoubtedly the most important Britten manuscript ever to be offered at auction.
Dr Simon Maguire, Director, Senior Specialist, Sothebys Musical Manuscripts said: This is an exciting sale containing important manuscripts by some of the worlds leading composers. It is distinguished by the large number of first editions and some wonderful visual sources.
The Autograph Composing Manuscript of Szenen aus Goethes "Faust
Szenen aus Goethes "Faust", represents the culmination of all Schumanns works as a composer. In this work all the themes that characterize his mature work came together. This was the first major setting of both Part I and Part II of one of the greatest masterpieces of German literature, and contains the earliest setting of Part II. The autograph composing manuscript (estimated at £600,000-800,000) is a substantially complete draft of Schumanns masterpiece, in short and full score, containing sometimes multiple versions of various sections, and also some sketches for the libretto of his opera Genoveva, with numerous alterations and revisions. Perhaps the most extraordinary features of this manuscript are the layers of working revealed in layers of brown ink, pencil and red and blue crayon. Here we see Schumann in the creative moment in one of his greatest achievements. Schumann might be regarded as the perfect composer for the text: like Goethe himself, he was an artist with both Romantic and Classicizing tendencies. The work represents a watershed in the history of 19th Century German music.
Benjamin Brittens Autograph Working Manuscript of the Music to the Film Instruments of the Orchestra [The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra Op. 34], estimated at £40,000-60,000 is undoubtedly the most important Britten manuscript ever to be offered at auction and appears to be hitherto unrecorded. It is a spectacular and revealing manuscript showing the creation of one of Brittens best known works and reveals that the composer originally designed the piece as film music, with the didactic purpose of illustrating the different instruments of the orchestra to school children. Britten composed the work in December 1945 for the Crown Film Unit, to accompany a film entitled Instruments of the Orchestra for distribution by the Ministry of Education. It was first shown in November 1946, with the commentary narrated by the conductor Malcolm Sargent, and later became one of Brittens best known orchestral works. The manuscript is stunning evidence of his brilliance as a composer, although evidently an early composing draft with many deletions and revisions, the music is almost complete with most of the orchestration already indicated. It was given by the composer to Enid Vandyk (in 1946-1947), who later became Brittens assistant.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts Autograph Sketchleaf Including Sketches for the canons Difficile Lectu Mihi Mars, K. 559, and Bona Nox! Bist A Rechta Ox, K. 561 (est. £80,000-100,000, illustrated right) is a spectacular, rare and long-untraced, sketch leaf for two of Mozarts celebrated vocal canons, the three-part Difficile Lectu mihi Mars, K. 559, and the four-part Bona nox! Bist a rechta Ox, K. 561, dating from perhaps the most famous summer in musical history, that of Mozarts annus mirabilis, 1788, which saw the composition of his three last symphonies. Designed for performance in the relaxed social setting of Mozarts personal circle, they reveal the composer in his most unbuttoned mood. This is especially true of K. 559 and K. 561, whose comic words were doubtless written by Mozart himself: in the former, a vulgar German text, as well as some ribald Italian (Leck du mi im Arsch [kiss my arse] and cujoni [balls]), is designed to be discerned phonetically through a thin veil of pseudo-Latin (Difficile Lectu mihi mars et jonicu); and in the latter, Mozart mixes Latin, Viennese dialect, French, Italian and even English to create a boisterously humorous text which leaves little to the imagination.
The sale will also include an exceptionally rare first edition of one of the best-loved works in the concert repertoire, Antonio Vivaldis The Four Seasons (estimated at £10,000-15,000). There is no surviving autograph source for The Four Seasons and this is the only known first edition to have appeared at auction. This is a complete copy, containing all six parts, including the obbligato cello part, which contains a leaf that is usually absent, because it was printed on a loose leaf that has become detached from most other copies. Vivaldis bibliographer Peter Ryom considered that the only complete copies surviving of this edition were held by the Library of Congress in Washington and the Paris Conservatoire.
Sothebys also to offer what is believed to be the earliest contemporary painting of musicians of a court orchestra. Painted in 1770, by Leopold August Abel, this attractive and detailed group portrait of the famous musicians and singers at the court of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in north-east Germany is estimated at £15,000-£20,000. Eighteenth century iconographical sources showing musical ensembles are of the greatest rarity at auction. The Ducal chapel at Ludwigslust, where this was probably painted, was one of the finest in Germany. Professor Neal Zaslaw at Cornell University has said the pictures documentary value is so great, precisely because there are so few such known scenes. There is nothing like it illustrated in either his Mozart Symphonies or The Birth of the Orchestra, nor does he know of any other such picture elsewhere.
Fredyryk Chopins Fine Portrait Drawing of Chopin on his deathbed, by Albert Graefle is estimated at £15,000-20,000. The drawing has been in the same family for over 100 years and has never previously been shown in public.