Music, Continental Books and Medieval Manuscripts
Online Auction: 7–14 July 2020 • 2:00 PM BST • London

Music, Continental Books and Medieval Manuscripts 7–14 July 2020 • 2:00 PM BST • London

The sale is structured as follows:

Music: lots 1-45
Medieval and Continental manuscripts: lots 46-56
Russian books and manuscripts: lots 57-68
Science and medicine: lots 69-74
Continental books: lots 75-167


T he sale opens with forty-five lots of music, including music manuscripts by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Gounod, Wagner and Massenet. The Mendelssohn is a hitherto unrecorded autograph manuscript of the song 'Im Frühling' (1842), which diverges considerably from the known version, including completely different words for the second verse.

Lot 23, F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Autograph manuscript of the song 'Im Frühling' ("Ich hör' ein Vöglein locken"), London 1842. Estimate £20,000–25,000.

There are two important series of letters by Clara Schumann and by Brahms, both addressed to the conductor and music scholar Ernst Rudorff and including all Rudorff's replies. Brahms's letters include a manuscript of his realization of a passage by Mozart, which Rudorff had asked him about. There are over 200 unpublished letters by Clara Schumann, where she reports early private performances of Brahms's works and discusses her own career as one of the greatest pianists of the 19th century.

Lot 44, R. Wagner. Autograph manuscript prose draft for "Wieland der Schmied", [WWV 82], 1850, Estimate £30,000–40,000.

Wagner has written an important prose draft for Wieland der Schmied (1850), his first opera designed to enshrine his epoch-making “Music of the Future”, and the prototype for the prose dramas he wrote for Der Ring des Nibelungen. This is a beautiful document, written by the composer in 1850, when he also changed his handwriting from the old-fashioned gothic script, into the elegant and legible style of his maturity.

There are unpublished letters and notes by Beethoven, Chopin and Mendelssohn: Beethoven announces the composition of the “Archduke” piano trio op.97 and his last violin sonata op.96, whilst Chopin arranges a concert with his favourite pupil the young prodigy Carl Filtsch in Paris in 1843. Of the greatest interest are five autograph letters written by Béla Bartók to another composer Frederick Delius, about the influence of folk music on his compositions and a letter by Tchaikovsky to his conductor, discussing the unsatisfactory singers lined up to perform his opera Mazepa in 1883.

Lot 74, Newton, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, London, 1687, contemporary vellum. Estimate £280,000–350,000.

The highlight of the sale is a first edition of Isaac Newton’s most important treatise, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (London, 1687). This copy has the three-line imprint, indicating that it was intended for sale on the Continent rather than for the English market. Another fascinating scientific item is the autograph letter by Einstein on representing curved space-time in his Unified Field Theory (c. 1950).

Images from left to right: Lot 69, A. Einstein. Autograph letter signed ("A.E.") about representing curved space-time in his Unified Field Theory, [1950], Estimate £15,000–20,000. Lot 98, Chronicles of England; Higden, Descrypcyon of Englonde, Wynkyn de Worde, 1497-1498, later calf gilt, Estimate £30,000–50,000.

There are two rare items from the Amsterdam press of Menassah ben Israel (lots 117 and 137), 19th-century works of Russian literature (including a miniature Eugene Onegin) and finely-bound French illustrated works from the 18th century, including two with armorial bindings for Tsar Paul I (lots 128 and 162). There is also an album of 19th-century erotic prints, mostly by Achille Devéria.

Images from left to right: Lot 83, [Raccolta di 324 ritratti di artisti eccellenti, Florence, 1791-1796], 107 coloured engravings, modern drop-back box, Estimate £6,000–8,000. Lot 102, Dante, Divina commedia, illustrated by Dali, Rome, 1963-64, 7 volumes, Estimate £4,000–6,000. Lot 167, Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres, Paris, 1949-1986, 34 volumes, original wrappers, Estimate £12,000–15,000.
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Among the early printing is a fine copy of Pfintzing’s Theuerdanck, with wide margins in a contemporary binding, an Aldine Iamblichus from 1497 and an early Wynkyn de Worde edition of the Chronicles of England from Spetchley Park. There is a rare set of Florentine colour prints of self-portraits of artists, as well as Zervos’s magisterial edition of Picasso’s catalogue raisonnée, two copies of Matisse’s Cinquante desseins and Dali’s monumental illustrated edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

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