Mozart documents top Sotheby’s sale
The highlights of Sotheby’s May 29th auction of Music, Continental Books and Manuscripts were two documents relating to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The top sale was a handwritten letter from Mozart to Viennese textile merchant Michael von Puchberg, written in 1788 at a time when Mozart’s financial situation had considerably worsened.
The letter is the very first of several famous items of correspondence written to his friend Puchberg desperately imploring him for money, as his brother and fellow freemason. The 21 letters got increasingly more begging and urgent as they went along, yet many claim that Mozart’s dire straits were exaggerated for Puchberg’s benefit, and that he continued to live an exuberant and lavish lifestyle. This lot fetched an impressive £241,250.
Next was a handwritten manuscript of a three-part unpublished fugue, circa 1786, designed as an exercise and signed by Mozart and English fellow composer Thomas Attwood. This item presented a rarity to collectors – a complete composition from Mozart, written during the height of his career, with handwritten revisions. It sold for £121,250.
Other highlights included a handwritten manuscript by Igor Stravinsky of The Nightingale, signed and dated 1914, sold for £115,250, and a Jean Sibelius handwritten manuscript of the unpublished Adagio in E Major, 1907, with his beautiful lilting hand and slanting signature, achieving more than twice its low estimate of £20,000-£30,000 to sell for £42,050.
A unique collection of early nineteenth-century watercolour and gouache drawings of Chinese musical instruments by an unknown artist fetched £34,850, and four original designs for the stage set of Puccini’s Turandot by Galileo Chini from 1924, depicting colourful scenes from the opera, sold for £32,450.
The sale also showcased some beautiful bindings and antiquarian books from the 16th and 17th centuries.
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