Edward Elgar Third Symphony sketch leaves for sale at Bonhams

The only two surviving sketch-leaves in private hands for Edward Elgar's unfinished Third Symphony are to be sold at Bonhams Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs Sale in London on 22 November.

They are part of a rich collection of material that belonged to Vera Hockman, the woman with whom Elgar fell in love at first sight in November 1931 and who re-lit the composer's creative spark after 10 fallow years. 

Part of the proceeds will go towards helping her great granddaughter study at the Royal College of Music.

The two sketch-leaves for sale are the first and last ones for the Third Symphony. The first bears the inscription in Elgar's hand, "Ist sketch of VH's own theme above/Edward Elgar" with the addition "Will never be finished?".

Edward Elgar sketch leaves
The self-doubt of a great composer - Edward Elgar

The last leaf bears the inscription "First thought for Sym III and last though for VH and is dated Jany 1933."  Both leaves are scored through with a K indicating that Elgar had transcribed them to the full score left uncompleted at his death a few weeks later.

The third symphony was completed using the existing score and sketches by Anthony Payne in 2000. In this completed version Vera's theme - described by music historian Michael Kennedy as "a tender, yearning, passionate melody" - is first heard at bar 27.

It is the moment when, according to Kennedy, the audience think, "Ah! This is Elgar."

Elgar's passionate friendship with Vera Hockman came at a time when he felt his creative life had ended. 

His wife Alice had died in 1920 and shaken by the loss of her constant support and inspiration and the increasing indifference of the musical establishment he had composed nothing of note since.

When he first spotted Vera in the orchestra during a rehearsal for The Dream of Gerontius in November 1931 the 73 year old composer was immediately smitten. 

The attraction was mutual and a recently published letter written by Vera to Elgar after his death, on what would have been his birthday, showed that it was a full blown love affair on both sides.  They spent much of the remainder of Elgar's life together.

Although Elgar began to compose music again shortly after his meeting with Vera, the notoriously insecure composer continued to believe his career was over. 

Elgar sketch leaves
Edward Elgar's sketch leaves could bring £10,000

A copy of a music score which Elgar gave to Vera in September 1932 with the words of the text "A singer who sings no more" circled and the hand written addition 'i.e. Edward Elgar' give some indication of his state of mind. 

This item, with several other mementoes of their time together, is included in the archive for sale.

Classical music scores and related collectibles are not the first collectibles which people think of as a valuable and lively market, but it shouldn't be underrated.

At the end of last month a rare manuscript copy of Schiller's poem Ode to Joy, which is a landmark in German literary history and inspired Beethoven to write one of the most famous musical sequences in the world, sold for a record $573,400 price.

George Gershwin, signed and inscribed photograph
George Gershwin, signed and inscribed photograph, available now
(Click to find out more)

We love finding new homes for letters, signed photos and handwritten musical scores relating to great composers. We've previously sold items relating to Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, and just this last week we've sold signed photos of Giacomo Puccini and a letter written by Hector Berlioz.

Music fans need not despair, however, as one of our finest musical collectibles remains available - indeed one we're so confident about that it qualifies for our unique 120% guarantee.

This is a fantastic vintage photograph of George Gershwin, signed and inscribed 'Eddie With all the Best, George'. Don't miss out!

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