Lot 50
  • 50

Froberger, Johann Jacob (1616-1667).

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  • A highly important and hitherto unrecorded autograph manuscript volume containing thirty-five keyboard pieces dating from Froberger’s final years, including some of the composer’s greatest and most personal works, and with eighteen completely new, undocumented and unpublished pieces, each signed by Froberger at the end with a paraph (''m[anu pro]pria…'')

the volume arranged by Froberger in three parts with autograph titles ("Primiere... Seconde...Troisiesme Partie"); the first contains six fantasies, the second six caprices, and the third five suites, each of four movements, two méditations and two tombeaux (laments), the first two parts notated in open score on four staves per page, the third written for keyboard on two systems of two staves per page, with a contemporary title-page in another hand (“Livre Primiere. Des fantasies, Caprices, Allemandes, Gigues, Courantes, Sarebandes, Meditation. Composées par Jean Jacque Froberger. Organist de la chamber de la Majeste Imperiale.”), very faintly dated in a later hand, probably Héricourt, near Montbéliard (Mömpelgard), in the Franche-Comté, [c.1665-1667]

259 pages, oblong 8vo (c.8.5 x 24cms), including titles, paper with two different 4-stave rulings (without any visible watermark), handsome contemporary red morocco elaborately gilt, covers with three framed panels with rosettes in the outer panels, arms of Leopold I (1640-1705), Holy Roman Emperor, in the central panels, flat spine gilt with sixteen-fold repeated patterns, serpent watermark to endpapers, text at the top margin very occasionally trimmed, some light foxing mainly to margins, minor worm-holes at the hinges slightly affecting the gilding, lacking ties above and below the Imperial arms, corners rubbed


Catalogue Note

This is a discovery almost without precedent: eighteen new pieces by Froberger are added to the canon of his works, examples of the composer’s hitherto unknown “final period”. This discovery changes the course of Froberger studies and, by extension, the history of seventeenth-century music

This manuscript includes new biographical information about Froberger's final years: it documents his association with his last patron, Sibylla of Württemberg, and reveals that he travelled to Madrid, where one of the newly-discovered works was composed.

Froberger was the first great composer for the harpsichord and one of the first to work in Vienna.  He was a composer of international standing, travelling widely, drawing on the influence of Frescobaldi and the French clavecinists and, in turn, influencing keyboard composers throughout Europe.   He is celebrated for his expressive Laments (tombeaux) and for devising the form of the keyboard suite.  The manuscript contains the hitherto-inknown autograph of one of his most celebrated and personal pieces, the “Méditation…sur ma mort future”, composed in 1660, but not published until 1698.

We have no record of an autograph manuscript by any earlier major composer appearing at auction. Autograph music by seventeenth-century composers is of great rarity: apart from the 22-page autograph of keyboard music by Henry Purcell (sold in these rooms on 26 May 1994, lot 398), nothing comparable has appeared for sale at auction in living memory. 

The music is written in the same very distinctive and characterful handwriting as in Froberger’s celebrated manuscripts of his keyboard music in the Austrian National Library, generally accepted as autograph (A-Wn, Mus.Hs. 18706, 18707 & 16560). Titled "Libro Secondo" (1649) and "Libro Quarto" (1656), they formed part of a series of presentation volumes, the others of which are lost.  There has been much speculation about the supposed content of the missing books primo and terzo. The present manuscript is neither of these, being a completely new source whose existence has not been suspected by any writer on the composer.

Please see the full description of this lot in the separate catalogue.