The sale of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Clavier-Übung” book 2 (1736), for £449,000 broke the world record for a printed music edition at auction, more than doubling the previous record of £206,500 for another JS Bach first edition at Sotheby’s in 2013. This was a previously unrecorded copy of a major JS Bach work, the autograph manuscript of which is lost, and was of course completely fresh to the market. There were also fine prices for complete autograph music manuscripts of major repertory works by Sibelius (£221,000), Elgar (£72,500), César Franck (£62,500) and Debussy (£62,500). In addition there was a a remarkable set of gouaches by Erté which realized £31,250 and an important autograph letter by Kazimir Malevich, which realised £25,000.
The Music sale is particularly rich and valuable, containing a complete orchestral work by Mozart (“La Bataille”, K.535) dating from 1788, and three important manuscripts of Sibelius, his symphonic poem Pohjola’s Daughter, Pelléas et Mélisande and the famous Violin Concerto together with a treasure trove of signed contracts and letterbooks from the famous music publishers Haslinger (Vienna) and Schlesinger (Berlin). There is also the very rare first edition of JS Bach’s Clavier-Übung II (‘French Overture’ and ‘Italian Concerto’), and autograph music by Elgar (drafts of the Enigma Variations), Mendelssohn, Weber, Franck, Smetana, Rossini and Schumann’s autograph catalogue of his music library.
The Continental Books include an important early illustrated printed book of hours in a contemporary Parisian binding, early science books by Kepler and Campanella, and modern books by Picasso, Tolstoy and a complete set of Derrière le miroir.