19 pages, large 4to (c.34 x 27cm), (21 pages with Székely's inscribed title wrapper), pages 1-18 on 18-stave paper ("J.E. & Co. No.5 18-linig"), paginated by the composer, with an additional manuscript stave added by him at the foot of each page, comprising one gathering of 4 bifolia, the initial leaf affixed to the gathering at the beginning (the opening page written in black ink), Budapest 1928, the revised ending on an unpaginated page of 16-stave paper, Székely's inscribed wrapper on 10-stave Dutch paper (J.H.H. Siestrop of The Hague), 1929, a few tears and creasing to edges
THE "SECOND RHAPSODY" IS A CORNERSTONE OF THE VIOLINIST'S REPERTORY; THIS IS THE MANUSCRIPT WRITTEN FOR THE DEDICATEE OF THE WORK. Bartók composed both Rhapsodies in 1928, intending them for his own concerts with the two great Hungarian violinists Josef Szigeti and Zoltán Székely; when Bartók asked Székely which of the two pieces he wished to have, he chose the Second. The Rhapsody shows two important characteristics of Bartók: the stylistic influence of Romanian folk music, on which he did much ethnomusicological field-work, and his habitual tendency to revise the endings of many of his works and to publish both alternatives (for example, Duke Bluebeard's Castle, The Miraculous Mandarin, Violin Concerto no.2, the Concerto for Orchestra and others). Both traits are seen here most clearly in the second movement: "It is probably the boldest of the four movements in the rhapsodies. For it, Bartók selected seven dances played by gypsy fiddlers in Transylvania, mostly longer dances improvised in an open form using a few motives, in a wild virtuoso style that in its full rhythmic and ornamental richness, as recorded and transcribed by Bartók, could not fit into the framework of a regular concert piece" (Somfai, p.199).
Bartók sent this manuscript to Székely in Nijmegen in 1928, so that he could incorporate the violinist's advice on difficult passages and performance markings. László Somfai describes it as the "autograph final copy", of which Bartok retained a photocopy, annotating it for the Stichvorlage of the first edition, published by Universal of Vienna in 1929. However, there are many differences from that edition, several passages cut in the second part ['Friss']; these comprise some twenty-two bars lightly crossed through in pencil, which do not appear in the first edition. It also contains Székely's bowings and his "performance options" for certain bars. Bartók's original composition draft is now in Basel; it includes drafts of both the endings present here, but lacks tempo indications, most performance markings and rehearsal numbers. Bartók arranged both works for violin and orchestra (and even for cello, at the request of Casals), but he composed them originally for his own recitals with Szigeti and Székely. It was for Székely that Bartók also wrote the Violin Concerto of 1938-1939; they were friends as well as collaborators (see next lot).
The original ending on this manuscript is forty-eight bars long (from rehearsal no.42 on page 17 until the end of page 18). Bartók at first tries a revision of the final three bars of the violin part, before adding a more comprehensive revision extending the ending to sixty-four bars, nineteen of which were newly-composed in 1929 on the separate 16-stave leaf. In the retained photocopy (the Stichvorlage), this new music was added by Bartók's wife Ditta, whereas in the present manuscript it is in Bartók's hand. These revisions are further altered in current editions, because the composer revised the ending once again in 1935 (only published in 1947). Somfai describes that third ending, the one played today, as basically new music in a softer, lighter, more appealing style ("We can indeed question whether it is a genuine improvement or just an alternative in a more popular style for the solution of a compositional dilemma"). The 1935 revision was apparently devised by Bartók to distinguish the Rhapsody from the Violin Sonata, which he often performed in the same concerts. For Székely's views of the endings, see Kenneson, pp.115-116.
Practically all Bartók's autograph manuscripts came eventually into the hands of his two sons, and are now located in Budapest or in the Sacher Institute in Basel. It seems that the only manuscripts that escaped the archives are those that Bartók sent to particular performers, particularly violinists, as in this case (Somfai, p.26). Similarly, the Quartet fragment sold here in 2012 had been sent by Bartók to Steffi Geyer, a violinist he was hopelessly in love with. In 1967, Sotheby's sold the Bartók papers of Adila Arányi, including arrangements from Strauss's Don Quixote and pieces for violin duo and for violin and piano BB 26a & 26b, written on postcards that the composer sent to her in November 1902 (our sale on 15 & 16 May 1967, lots 385-414).
This lot is illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue.
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