Lot 236
  • 236

Ravel, Maurice

80,000 - 100,000 GBP
245,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Ravel, Maurice
  • Fine autograph manuscript of the first movement of the "Sonatine", originally composed as a self-contained piece
unsigned but with an autograph title above the music, notated on seven two-stave systems per page, with many deletions, alterations and corrections (including to the tempo marking), comprising a movement of eighty-seven bars in all, the Stichvorlage marked up by and for the engraver in blue crayon and pencil, ("4 pl au format ci-joint"), with an autograph inscription of authorship ("par Verla") deleted by the editor,

3 pages, folio (c.34.5 x 27cm), the leaves separated, 24-stave paper, [1903], modern green folding case, gilt titles (overall size 45 x 38.5cm), creasing and light browning, some splitting at folds and tears to margins


A. Orenstein, Ravel. Man and Musician (1991), pp.212, 224.

Catalogue Note

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT BY RAVEL TO APPEAR AT AUCTION FOR A DECADE.  Autograph manuscripts of major works by Ravel are in any event rare at auction.  The great majority of Ravel's manuscripts are located in family archives or institutional libraries in the United States. 

The Sonatine was originally composed in this form as a single stand-alone movement.  The second and third movements were only composed two years later.  The three-movement work, described by Roger Nichols as a "jewel", has always been part of the standard concert repertory, played and recorded by Ravel himself, Cortot, Casadesus and many others.  The diminutive "Sonatine" refers to the modest length of the work and does not imply simplicity.  As Orenstein notes, this movement is in fact cast in a "closely-knit sonata form" in F-sharp minor (ending in the major).  The four-part writing is intricate and the tremolos in the inner parts are certainly quite demanding. 

On the advice of Calvocoressi, Ravel submitted this movement to a competition run by the Weekly Critical Review. Ravel's movement is actually longer than the seventy-five bars asked for in the competition.  In the event, the competition was cancelled, because the Review went bankrupt, and two years later Ravel composed two additional movements, published by Durand with a dedication to Ida and Cipa Godebski. 

Two years later, in 1905, Ravel wrote an autograph manuscript of all three movements of the expanded work, which is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Département de la Musique, MS-22675); the present manuscript contains the original single movement composed in 1903.  The inscription of authorship at the head of the manuscript is an anagram of "Ravel". Sotheby's is grateful to Roger Nichols, Roy Howat and Michel Noiray for their assistance.