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
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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