Composer Bach died today... But still makes sweet music for collectors


It was today in history, July 28, 1750, that one of history's greatest-ever composers passed away.

Johann Sebastian Bach died aged 75 after surgery complications, an operation on his eyes following increasing blindness, and left an enduring legacy as one of the main composers of the Baroque style.

You don't need to be an expert in classical music to know that Bach's legacy is perennial. And, because of this, he is still making beautiful sounds on the collectors' markets centuries after his death...

Bach Manuscript

As personal as it is historically significant... The £70,850 score scribed
by Bach himself

One of the perks for collectors with a passion for classical music is, whereas other buyers make do with signed letters, fans of the likes of Bach or Beethoven can bid on their handwritten musical scores.

Examples from recent times include at an auction by Sotheby's. The sale not only offered late Beatle John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to his song A Day in the Life, but also the original manuscript for Bach's French Suites for keyboard and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue.

As you can see above, the manuscript still bears brown ink staves scribed with Bach's very own hand, presumably in the moment that he finalised this contribution to the classical canon.

Classical scores are especially sought-after – but letters written by composers, like this Richard Wagner note presently for sale, also inspire great interest among collectors


Aside from its exceptional provenance, the score was also an important and previously unknown source for Bach's pieces. Mysteriously, additional annotations had been drawn on the sheet by another hand - apparently a Bach enthusiast, who references Johann's past works in their notes.

Even more intriguingly, the 'fan's' inscriptions were dated to a period when Bach's music is thought to have sunk from the public view. With all the fascination surrounding it, it was perhaps a given that Sotheby's £30,000-50,000 pre-sale estimate couldn't contain this historic manuscript.

In the end, it sold for £70,850. Proof, if any where needed, that classical scores are in the same league as the finest historically manuscripts when attracting bids at the world's top auctions.


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