Sotheby's has announced that it will auction the collection of legendary composer Arturo Toscanini on November 28 in London, with a manuscript of Mendelssohn's Die Schone Melusine expected as top lot.
Italian Toscanini, who died in 1957, was one of the best known and most accomplished composers of his day, serving as the musical director of La Scala Milan, New York's Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Toscanini's collection of important manuscripts, letters and memorabilia is expected to realise in excess of £1m ($1.6m). At the top of the collection is "one of the most important manuscripts to appear at auction", the full autographed score of the overture Die Schone Melusine by Felix Mendelssohn.
The work has not been seen at auction for over 50 years, with its re-appearance on the market described by Sotheby's as "of great scholarly importance". It provides a superb insight into Mendelssohn's creative process for the work, featuring extensive cancellations, revisions and corrections, including 15 bars of fully scored music which has been deleted from the final piece.
The remarkable document, which is notated in brown ink with a superb example of Mendelssohn's flourishing autograph at the bottom, was originally gifted to Toscanini as a birthday present by the pianist Rudolf Serkin, and will be accompanied by an original autographed letter from Serkin to Toscanini. It is expected to sell for £400,000-600,000 ($643,000-964,500).
Several other important manuscripts will feature in the sale, including three signed drafts of Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff at £80,000-100,000 ($128,500-160,500), as well as Verdi's complete draft of the Ave Maria from the Four Sacred Pieces, also estimated at £80,000-100,000 ($128,500-160,500).
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 to see the results of this sale and more from across the auction world.