The Music and Continental Books & Manuscripts sale offered remarkable items reflecting the great figures of European civilization, including a wonderful portrait miniature of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1777), one of only two authenticated paintings of the composer in private hands, which sold for £218,500. A great scholarly discovery was provided by the unpublished autograph travel journal of Johann Andreas Silbermann (c.1741), which gave hitherto unknown details about music in Leipzig and Dresden at the time of Johann Sebastian Bach. Other high-points of Thursday’s auction were provided by a very rare Aldine, “Encomiastica” by Giovanni Stefano Emiliano (1504), which sold for £50,000 against an estimate of £5,000-7,000. A collection of forty letters by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1820-1832) realized £110,500, and a single letter by Ludwig van Beethoven (1806) sold for above the estimates at £104,500.
The sale includes a collection of alchemical books from the library of Arturo Schwarz and a significant collection of autograph letters by Goethe, in which he expounds his philosophy of science, together with letters by Marie Antoinette, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Camille Pissarro, and Alexander von Humboldt, and documents signed by Ferdinand & Isabella in 1480 and by Franz Joseph Emperor of Austria in 1851.
The two most valuable lots in Music are a miniature portrait of Mozart (given by him to his first cousin and first love, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart, from whose family it has come by direct descent) and the completely unknown & unpublished travel journal of J.A. Silbermann to Saxony in 1741, which describes the world of music in Leipzig and Dresden at the time of JS Bach. There are music manuscriptsby Richard Strauss (‘Frühling’ from the Four Last Songs), Stravinsky, Kodály, Piazzolla, Krenek, Bruckner, Flotow, Massenet, Massé, Maurice Jarre and Schnittke, and autograph letters by Beethoven (about Fidelio), Schumann, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Verdi and Kurt Weill.