Music and Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts
Online Auction: 20–30 November 2021 • 2:00 PM GMT • London

Music and Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts 20–30 November 2021 • 2:00 PM GMT • London

S otheby’s is pleased to present our sale of Music and Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts, closing for bidding on 30 November, comprising:

Highlights of the music section are Beethoven's fine autograph letter to the librettist Friedrich Treitschke about their planned opera Romulus und Remus, 24 September 1815, and a stunning late 17th-century French manuscript volume of 72 pieces for five-course guitar. Other exceptional items include an autograph letter by Gluck, Vincent Novello's autograph manuscript of his vocal-score arrangements of nine masses attributed to Mozart, a collection of 21 reluctantly-written letters by Walton to his biographer Stewart Craggs, and an unpublished archive of nearly 500 letters of Max Bruch to the Berlin teacher and pianist Ernst Rudorff, from whose former collection also originate: a letter by Brahms to Philipp Spitta, two remarkable manuscript volumes of works by J.F. Reichardt, a copy of the first edition of Mendelssohn’s piano sonata Op.6, probably presented to Betty Pistor, an early sweetheart of the composer and Rudorff’s mother, and Schumann's signed copies of printed scores of quartets by Onslow. In addition, the sale also includes a varied selection of first and early editions of music by Bach, Beethoven, Cherubini, F. Couperin, Handel, Lully, Mozart, Rameau, Scarlatti, Schubert and Stravinsky.

Science and medicine are represented by the first Dutch translation of Valverde de Amusco’s anatomical masterpiece, along with a nineteenth-century rubbing of a medieval Chinese astronomical stele, a fine copy of Ptolemy’s astronomical and astrological works in a contemporary binding, and Serrano’s astronomical compendium, printed on his own press in his house in Cordoba. More entertaining is an early edition of a handbook on the “Mystery of Generation”, Aristotles Master-Piece, dating from 1684, with woodcuts of monstrous births and a hairy woman.

The sale contains some fascinating annotated books, notably the Arabic text of the life of Tamerlane and a Greek copy of Josephus. The Leiden edition of Vitae et rerum gestarum Timuri has been extensively annotated by one or more seventeenth-century English scholars of Arabic, with interlinear translations and marginal notes in Latin and notes in Arabic, and a few words in English which identifies the nationality of at least one of the annotators. The 1544 edition of the original Greek text of Josephus provides a fascinating record of a contemporary reader’s life; he notes the dates at which he completes reading particular chapters, with dates between 1546 and 1549, including events of significance in his own life, from the grape harvest to the death of his father, and recording the political situation of his (Protestant) hometown Heilbronn in the midst of the Schmalkaldic Wars. Scholars of Greek were still not common, so our reader carefully puts his most critical comments into Greek to avoid trouble; he calls Charles V the "truly demon-possessed Saul of the Germans" (Germanorum Saul αλυθεως δαιμονιξομενος).

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