Lot 207
  • 207

Berlioz, Hector

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
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  • Berlioz, Hector
  • Autograph working musical draft for the concert arrangement of the 'Marche troyenne' from the opera Les Troyens, [H.133B], signed and inscribed:
  • ink on paper
"Marche Troyenne tirée de l'opéra des Troyens de H. Berlioz arrangée pour l'orchestre seul et développée pour les concerts par l'auteur", the short score notated in dark brown ink on ten systems, comprising twenty-two staves of music in all, with many deletions and alterations, containing the principal theme of the 'Trojan March' (on staves 20, 22 & 24), and other drafts for the coda ("Matériaux pour la coda...en continuant ce dessein"), together with instrumental designations ("Trombone"; "Cymbal"; "G. Caisse seul", "Triangle Caisse")

1 page, folio (c.35 x 27cm), 26-stave paper [by Lard-Esnault of Paris], [late 1863 or early 1864], small portion at bottom torn away, very slightly affecting the text, tears without loss to margins and central fold, carefully repaired on verso


D. Kern Holoman, Catalogue of the Works of Hector Berlioz (1987) 133B, p.394 (this manuscript not recorded); Holoman, Berlioz, (1989), p.570.


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 MANUSCRIPTS OF MAJOR WORKS BY BERLIOZ ARE OF THE GREATEST RARITY AT AUCTION: we have seen no other example since this leaf was sold here in 1998.  Whilst album-leaves and quotations appear regularly, the only comparable autograph manuscripts of Berlioz's works that we have traced in auction records were at J.A. Stargardt in 1970 (La Captive, now at Columbia University, New York) and at Sotheby's in 1958 (a leaf from Benvenuto Cellini, now in the British Library).  

"LES TROYENS" IS ONE OF BERLIOZ'S GREATEST WORKS AND THE CULMINATION OF HIS CAREER AS A COMPOSER.  It is also the fulfilment of his life-long devotion to Virgil: a five-act opera to his own libretto concerning Troy and Carthage, Cassandra, Dido and Aeneas.  The 'Trojan March' is emblematic of the work, first appearing as the Act 1 finale (no.11) and pervading many scenes, including the arrival of the Trojans at Carthage in Act 3 (no.26), and twice in Act 5 (nos 44 & 52), when they depart for Italy.

SKETCHES BY BERLIOZ ARE IN THEMSELVES VERY RARE: no examples survive for many of his works.  D. Kern Holoman doubts whether many ever existed: Berlioz appears to have composed music with amazing facility, like Mozart or Rossini, rather than sketching extensively beforehand like Beethoven.  Manuscripts revealing the creation of his compositions are practically never available for sale.

In the summer of 1863, Berlioz was persuaded by the impresario Carvalho to divide Les Troyens into two halves, so that Acts 3, 4 & 5 could be staged separately (as Les Troyens à Carthage).  He found that the 'Marche troyenne', dominating the Act 1 Finale and featuring Cassandra and the chorus, was now to be excluded from  Carvalho's staging of the opera; indeed the first half of the opera was never performed in his lifetime.  Berlioz therefore devised a 'Prologue' to introduce Les Troyens à Carthage, which includes a slightly shortened version of the 'Marche troyenne': still with chorus, but omitting Cassandra’s dramatic interjections.  In January 1864 he fashioned a concert version of this 'Prologue', with a newly-composed coda to replace the original ending (”Fiers sommets de Pergame”).  The present manuscript is Berlioz’s working draft of that coda (starting at Figure 8 in the published score of the purely orchestral 'Marche troyenne' H133B). The draft coda is dominated by a full statement of the ten-bar march theme (systems 7-9), preceded by an extended modulatory treatment of the opening call for cornets and trombones (systems 3-6). He derived the remaining passages that open and conclude this manuscript from the opera itself: namely, the penultimate occurrence of the 'Marche troyenne' that closes Dido’s and Aeneas’s duet in Act 5 (no.44), where the Trojans come to take Aeneas away to fulfil his destiny in founding the city of Rome.  

The enforced division of Les Troyens (effectively reduced to Part 2), was a bitter pill for Berlioz to swallow.  It is notable that despite its vicissitudes, Berlioz still refers to his great opera as Les Troyens rather than by the new title.  The complete autograph fair copy of the Marche troyenne at the Bibliothèque nationale also bears the same title as here ("Marche Troyenne tirée de l'opéra des Troyens..."), whereas in Choudens's edition (1865) the title was altered to "...tirée de l'opéra Les Troyens à Carthage ...".