18
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Chopin, Frédéric
AUTOGRAPH WORKING MANUSCRIPT OF THE OPENING OF THE FIRST BALLADE IN G MINOR OP.23
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 200,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
18
Chopin, Frédéric
AUTOGRAPH WORKING MANUSCRIPT OF THE OPENING OF THE FIRST BALLADE IN G MINOR OP.23
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 200,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Music and Continental Books and Manuscripts

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Chopin, Frédéric
AUTOGRAPH WORKING MANUSCRIPT OF THE OPENING OF THE FIRST BALLADE IN G MINOR OP.23
comprising the opening thirteen bars notated for piano on three two-stave systems, with a brace, clefs and key-signature prepared for a fourth system, written in dark brown ink, including the much-disputed E-flat in the last bar of the introduction, and the striking main theme, with Chopin's markings for dynamics, articulation and pedalling and his deletions and alterations to the phrasing

1 page, oblong 4to, (c.20.5 x 25.7cm), 12-stave laid paper without a watermark, no place or date, [probably c.1833-1835], trimmed at the top and right-hand margin, two autograph erasures causing some paper-loss


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Literature

J. Rink et al., Chopin First Editions Online. and Online Chopin Variorum Edition; K. Kobylańska, Rękopisy utworów Chopina: Katalog, 2 vols. (1977), vol. 1, p. 126; Kobylanska, Frédéric Chopin: Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis, (1979), p. 46; M. Brown, Chopin. An Index of his works (1972), no.66 (p.73).

Catalogue Note

AN UNRECORDED DRAFT FOR ONE OF CHOPIN'S MAJOR WORKS. Chopin's Four Ballades are amongst his most substantial and original compositions, in a format of his own devising.  The First Ballade was the subject of a famous dialogue with Schumann, who, after meeting Chopin in 1836, wrote that "...it seems to me to be the work closest to his genius (though not the most brilliant). I told him that, of everything he has composed so far, it appeals to my heart the most. After a lengthy silence, Chopin replied with emphasis: 'I am happy to hear this, because I too like it the most, it is my dearest work'...".  It has always been a central work in the pianist's repertoire and featured in the sound-track of several films, most notably Polanski's The Pianist (2002).

 This is a working manuscript rather than an album-leaf, one that Chopin originally intended to continue, at least into a fourth system.  It seems to have been Chopin's original draft, which he failed to complete, not necessarily because it was rejected (for example, it may have been merely mislaid).  Indeed it contains more details of articulation and pedalling than in the version that replaced it.   The manuscript confirms the reading of the E-flat in bar seven, as it appears in the complete autograph manuscript and in the French first edition (July 1836).  This note is changed to a D in the German edition by Breitkopf & Härtel (September 1836), an alteration followed in some later editions and the subject of much controversy.  The two first editions also differ over the tempo; the present "Largo" marking accords with the Schlesinger edition, whereas the Breitkopf reading is "Lento".  However, the marking "Moderato" is missing here at the start of the 6/4 section in bar eight.

In this manuscript, Chopin adds three strong accents to the main melodic notes in bars 9, 11 & 13; these are found neither in the autograph manuscript (in a private collection in the United States), nor in the two first editions.  Chopin also continues the pedalling marks for longer than found in any of those sources.  This is an early draft of the beginning, but quite when Chopin began composition of the First Ballade is a matter of debate; some date it to 1831 in Vienna, reading it a response to the Polish uprising against the Russians, whilst Jim Samson argues that it was probably not begun before 1833 and perhaps as late as 1835. 

Sotheby's is happy to acknowledge the advice and assistance of Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger and Roy Howat in the description of this lot.

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