Lot 303
  • 303

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr

250,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Tchaikovsky, Pyotr
  • Autograph working manuscript of the orchestral Suite no.2 op.53
  • paper
comprising the short score draft of three movements, the first ('Jeu de sons'), the fourth ('RĂªves d'enfant'), and the fifth ('Danse Baroque'), substantially complete, but without anything from the second and third movements, notated in pencil on up to twenty staves per page, the systems of up to four staves each, with indications of instrumentation ("Picc.", "Timp. e Piatti", "Arpa", "alto" etc), heavily revised throughout, with inserted passages marked with cues, extensive deletions, alterations ("oktavoj nizhe vsyo eto" [all this an octave lower]"), corrections ("do-si-do"), the music extended into the margins on hand-drawn staves, a few additions in black ink ("poyet [cantabile]"), and with a few annotations and markings ("E dur"; Fis moll"; "Konyets" [end]")

32 pages, folio (c.37.5 x 26cm), comprising 5 bifolios and 7 single leaves, the first movement mainly on 24-stave paper, the others on 20-stave paper, [Podushkino (near Moscow), 1883], two pages with loss from tears to leading edges in the fifth movement, creasing and a few tears to edges, some staining from the pencil


Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

AUTOGRAPH MUSICAL MANUSCRIPTS BY TCHAIKOVSKY ARE OF THE GREATEST RARITY AT AUCTION.  Moreover, this working draft contains major parts of an orchestral work  (American Book Prices Current does not record any such manuscript by Tchaikovsky, apart from a single page sold here in 1995).  

This is Tchaikovsky's composing manuscript for Suite no.2, with extensive revisions and re-writings.  The continuity of the music is sometimes hard to see at first, without recourse to Tchaikovsky's cues.  In addition, the music for the fourth and fifth movements is mostly written on shared bifolios, so that the music from one movement is found on a page facing a page devoted to the other, or on the lower half of such a page.  The first movement was evidently written separately and on different paper.  This manuscript contains the following sections:

I -'Jeu de sons', comprising a draft of the slow introduction and the entire fugal development, but lacking the exposition and second subject [roughly corresponding to pages 3-6 & 18-52 of the full score by Jurgenson], 10 pages, on 6 single leaves, 24-stave paper

IV- 'Rêves d'enfant', a largely complete early draft, a heavily worked and reworked manuscript, particularly for the chromatic sections in the second half of the movement, 9 pages (3 bifolios, one shared with movement V, and another containing a page for it)

 V- 'Danse Baroque. Style Dargomijsky', a largely complete early draft, much written on the same bifolios as IV, 13 pages (2 bifolios, and part of the above, including 2 pages also containing passages for movement IV, and a single leaf

Suite no.2 ("Caractéristique") is full of melodic inventiveness and orchestral verve,  unusually free of melancholy and introspection.  Despite this, 'Rêves d'un enfant', which begins as an innocuous child's dream, leads to passages of extreme chromaticism and key-changes so rapid they lose all sense of tonality.   Tchaikovsky initially sketched Suite no. 2 in June 1883 at his brother Anatoly's villa in Podushkino, outside Moscow, whilst correcting the proofs for his opera Mazeppa.  Those sketches are contained in a notebook dated to the beginning of that month.  The main work of composition, probably including these continuity drafts, was accomplished in the late summer of 1883.  On the 22 August (new style), Tchaikovsky wrote to Madame von Meck that he hoped to finish the Suite "in rough", which seems to apt to describe the continuity draft that we have here.   The work was completed and published in January 1884 by Jurgenson of Moscow; it was performed at a concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow on 16 February 1884, and was received with general approval.   Both Tchaikovsky's autograph full score and his transcription for piano duet are in the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow.  The present composition draft is apparently unrecorded and not mentioned in the Thematic and Bibliographical Catalogue of P. I. Tchaikovsky’s Works, edited by P. Vaidman, L. Korabelnikova & V. Rubtsova (2006).

Whilst Tchaikovsky's finished scores were generally kept safely by his publishers Jurgenson, and also by the theatres he wrote for, the fate of his composing drafts and sketches was much less certain.  The authors of the Thematic Catalogue make it clear that Tchaikovsky himself contributed to the loss and dispersal of many of his autographs, particularly working drafts like this, apparently being only concerned to preserve his earlier unpublished works.   For many years the composer had no fixed home of his own, and travelled widely in the West.  He frequently gave away sketches and drafts, with the result that several autographs were lost, as with the drafts of the Fifth Symphony.  "Sometimes Tchaikovsky, failing to remember the whereabouts of his manuscripts, tried to find the drafts of the pieces on which he was working...The same thing happened with the First Suite.  On November 4, 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother Anatoly Ilyich: 'Tolya dear! Please find out where Akim, or my landlady, or her housemaids, put the music book filled with pencil: it is of major importance for me, since it contains three movements of my new symphonic work'" (see the preface 'The History and Current State of Tchaikovsky's Archives', in Polina Vaidman at al, Thematic and Bibliographical Catalogue, p.LII).