Lot 4
  • 4

Bartók, Béla

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Bartók, Béla
  • The autograph working manuscript of the Second Rhapsody for violin and piano, BB 96, containing many revisions and two distinct endings, 1928-1929
  • paper
THE COMPLETE SCORE OF THE ORIGINAL VERSION, sent to the violinist Zoltán Székely in 1928, with a revised ending added on a separate leaf in 1929, CONTAINING SEVERAL PASSAGES CUT FROM ALL EDITIONS, the score notated mainly in blue-black ink on four systems per page, the two sections marked "Prima parte Moderato, ♪ = 108" and "Seconda parte, Allegro moderato, ♪ = 104" [published with the titles 'Lassú' and 'Friss'], with autograph rehearsal numbers throughout (1-49), containing deletions, alterations and revisions by the composer, including to the violin part at the end of page 18, with a cue for timpani added later on page 8; in the 'Seconda parte', there are many later annotations by the composer in pencil ("stringendo"; "agitato") and many cuts, presumably marked by Bartók during his work with Székely, the score also marked up by Székely with pencil fingerings and bowings throughout, and, on the wrapper, his draft of the violin passage at rehearsal figure 31 (Fig.28 in the 1935 revision)

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


By descent from Zoltán Székely (1903-2001), Hungarian violinist, in 1928 the dedicatee of the Second Rhapsody, and thence gifted to the present owner.


L. Somfai, Béla Bartók. Composition, Concepts, and Autograph Sources (1996), especially pp.198-203 & 312 (BB 96); TNG, second edition, (2001), II, p.799; C. Kenneson, Székely and Bartók, The Story of a Friendship (1994), pp.112-116


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

WE HAVE NO RECORD OF THE AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF A COMPLETE WORK BY BARTÓK BEING OFFERED FOR SALE AT AUCTION. Apart from this manuscript, only two four-page fragments have appeared in recent decades: one comprising the opening of the First String Quartet (sold in these rooms, 28 November 2012, lot 196); the other a transcription for two pianos of two pieces from the Mikrokosmos BB 120 (sold in these rooms, 18 May 1995, lot 76).

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.