Mendelssohn autographed manuscript auctions for $694,000

One of the most important Mendelssohn documents ever to appear at auction, the autographed manuscript for his Melusine overture, has sold at Sotheby's.

Mendelssohn Melusine manuscript autograph
The manuscript was thought to be lost, until it emerged in Toscanini's collection

The manuscript formed part of the collection of legendary composer Arturo Toscanini, which was offered by his family in London yesterday (November 28). It brought £433,250 ($693,805), selling within the £400,000-500,000 valuation.

Italian Toscanini, who died in 1957, was among the most respected and accomplished composers of his day. During his outstanding career, he served as the musical director of La Scala Milan, New York's Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Melusine overture was considered by Mendelssohn himself as one of his finest works and is a staple of the orchestral repertoire. The autographed manuscript was previously considered lost.

The item came with impeccable provenance, having been gifted to Toscanini towards the end of his life by the great pianist Rudolf Serkin. It was accompanied in the sale by an original autographed letter from Serkin to Toscanini.

Also featuring was an autographed manuscript from Guiseppe Verdi, which contained three early drafts for the opening of Falstaff. Showing the early formation of his last opera, the work sold for £157,250 ($251,799), achieving an impressive 57.2% increase on its £100,000 high estimate.

More excellent results for Verdi were seen by the manuscript of the Ave Maria chorus from the Quattro Pezzi Sacri, which beat its £100,000 valuation by 45.2% to sell for £145,250 ($232,584).

Paul Fraser collectibles is currently offering a fantastic signed photograph of George Gershwin, the great American Broadway and classical composer. Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more from across the auction world.

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