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The first sale at Sotheby's France devoted entirely to music totals $4.3 million
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Autograph sketchleaf of studies and sketches for piano (the manuscript once owned by Chopin, with autograph dedication signed by the collector Aloys Fuchs), 2 pages, oblong folio, 22x31cms. Sold 252,750 EUR. Photo: Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio.
PARIS.- This exceptional collection, running to nearly 500 lots, brought a total of €3,327,655($4.335.570) to establish the most important sale of printed music for over a century. These remarkable results constitute a vibrant homage to collector André Meyer, who devoted his entire life to music.

In the words of Stephen Roe, International Director of Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department: ‘We are very delighted with the results of the sale, which included a number of rarities never seen on the market for 70 years, many of which are not likely to come on the market again.’

Printed manuscripts and scores prompted the highest bidding during the two-day sale. A first edition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Partitas for Keyboard (1731) opened the first session. Collectors from around the world were swift to pay tribute to one of Bach’s rarest and finest printed scores, of which just six complete copies are known, four of them in public libraries. It soared past its €100,000-150,000 estimate* to €228,750 ($297.967) – a world record for a printed score (lot 8).

The signed autograph manuscript of Arnold Schönberg’s String Quartet N°2 (op. 10) sold for €240,750 ($313.599) – a record for a manuscript by the composer (lot 469, est. €100,000-150,000). This work, dedicated to Schönberg’s wife, is of landmark importance in Schönberg’s output and to the history of 20th century music. This precious manuscript contains Schönberg’s handwritten dedication to the Seybert family – who hosted him during his wife’s fatal illness – and prompted furious competition, with three international bidders still in contention at over €150,000.

Another major item from the André Meyer Collection, and a veritable discovery, was a handwritten sheet of music by Ludwig van Beethoven that posted the sale’s top price of €252,750 ($329.230) (lot 373, est. €100,000-150,000). This score, consisting of piano exercises and a snatch of Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata in F minor, was hitherto unknown to Beethoven specialists, and held exceptional appeal due to its prestigious provenance – having been presented to Frédéric Chopin by the collector Aloys Fuchs.

France’s Bibliothèque Nationale pre-empted both a first edition of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Traité de l’Harmonie (Treatise on Harmony), corrected and annotated by the composer himself prior to the publication of the second edition in 1726 (lot 257, €72,750 /$97.760); and a manuscript copy of part of the score for Pergolesi’s L'Olimpiade, penned in the hand of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (lot 284, €30,750 / $40.000).

André Meyer also collected drawings, paintings and sculptures of great composers, musicians and singers from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries – assembling a unique portrait gallery. Two drawings of Chopin both sold well above their €15,000 top estimates: one by Götzenberger for €60,750 ($79.130), (lot 398); the other, by Pauline Viardot, for €58,350 ($76.000) (lot 399). A superb pastel portrait of Christoph Willibald Gluck (1775-79) by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis fetched €58,350 ($76.000) against an estimate of €15,000-20,000 (lot 93); the original version, in oils, can be found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Sculptures included a coloured wax profile of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, made in France at the end of the 18th century, that virtually doubled its €15,000 high-estimate on €27,150 ($35.360) (lot 208).

* estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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