Lot 38
  • 38

Stravinsky, Igor

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Stravinsky, Igor
  • Autograph working manuscript of part of "L'Oiseau de feu" ("The Firebird"), signed ("Igor Stravinsky"), [1909]
  • paper
comprising two early drafts for no.3 ['Apparition de L'Oiseau de feu, poursuivi par Ivan Tsarévitch'], about half the movement, including the opening and the "Vivo" section, the full score notated in black ink, red and blue crayon and pencil, on up to twenty-four staves per page, with annotations and deletions in crayon (calligraphic instrumental markings in red, bar-lines in blue), with the orchestration complete, including the clarinetto piccolo, bass clarinet, celesta, 3 harps, cymbals and divisi strings:

1) a pencil draft of the opening twelve bars [Figures 3 to 5], the instruments designated at the start, with figurations in black ink for divisi violins and violas deleted on the second page, the cymbal part coloured in red crayon, only the first violin partly written in ink, and on the last page the strings marked in blue crayon, the last page uncompleted, 3 pages, with, starting on the verso of the second leaf:

2) an ink draft, marked "Vivo", comprising fifteen bars [Figures 7 to two bars after Figure 9], the instrumental designations in red crayon, with deletions and alterations in ink, including the first version of the second page deleted in red crayon and re-written above, the last page uncompleted, signed by the composer over the penultimate page, 3 pages, the first page on two systems of 4 and 19 staves; 

6 pages in all, folio (c.35.5 x 26cm), a single leaf and a bifolium, 24-stave paper, the signature in blue added later, [St Petersburg, November 1909 to January 1910], overall browning and some splitting at folds,


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

This is a very early draft of a movement from Stravinsky's Firebird: "the first work of Stravinsky's artistic maturity" (E.W. White). This was the first of Stravinsky's epoch-making scores for Diaghilev's ballets russes, a great milestone in his career and a turning point in the history of Western Music. It is remarkable that, whilst this is evidently an early manuscript, comprising two discrete fragments, Stravinsky has already conceived the music with its orchestration complete, including some rather unusual instruments.  After much working-out and re-writing on this manuscript, the music of these two fragments ends up relatively close to the final versions, but there is no link between them, nor any sign of the design of the movement as a whole.  The opening section in pencil peters out in the middle of the third page and the "Vivo" section begins on the verso, fully scored up in black ink.  It is hard to imagine that the composer first worked this out at the piano, although in their final versions the piano score (completed 3 May) predated the full score (18 May).

Diaghilev decided after the first season of his Ballets russes, early in 1909, that he should include a ballet based on the Russian fairy-tale Zhar'-ptitsa in the 1910 season; this was to counter criticism that the music of the Ballets russes was not as strikingly new as the much-admired choreography and designs.  Diaghilev turned to Stravinsky, who had provided two Chopin orchestrations for the 1909 season, in Les SylphidesThe contract was signed only in December, but Stravinsky began to work on Firebird in early November, breaking off from his opera The Nightingale, and this manuscript probably dates from not long after his start. In the first performance at the Paris Opéra on 25 June 1910, Tamara Karsavina danced the title role and Michel Fokine that of Ivan Tsarevich, the two characters depicted here.