Mozart and Beethoven's $157,000 manuscripts are music to collectors' ears

Rare autographed manuscripts from two of history's foremost composers are set to sell at Sotheby's next week, giving collectors the chance to see the workings of some of classical music's greatest minds.

The manuscripts signed by Beethoven and Mozart were originally acquired in Vienna during the 1840s and until now have never been publically offered at auction.

First is an autographed working manuscript from part of the full score of Beethoven's 'Opferlied OP.121B for soprano solo, obligato cello, chorus and orchestra', containing substantial differences to the final published version.

It is the only surviving section from his original composition draft for the song, taken from Beethhoven's final period, and features a large amount of sketching and re-working. It is thought to have originated from an auction of his effects after his death in 1827, and has remained in private hands since soon after.

It gives a highly rare insight into his genius, and has an estimated price of $126,000 - $157,000.

A section from Beethoven's score 'Opferlied OP.121B for
soprano solo, obligato cello, chorus and orchestra'

Second is a remarkable manuscript from Mozart, his personal copy of part of the finale of Michael Haydn's D major symphony MH 287. Mozart held the older composer in high esteem, and this copy points to a possible performance of the work at one of the famous Sunday musical gatherings held by his patron Baron Gottfried van Swieten in Vienna.

These gatherings had an enormous influence on Mozart's own musical education, introducing him to the work of Handel and Bach, and were mention extensively by him in letters to his sister.

The manuscript shows an important stage of his development as a composer working with counterpoint, and its value is similarly estimated at $126,000 - $157,000.

The sale, which takes place in London on December 10, looks set to draw bids from across the world for these two significant lots. Recent sales of similar manuscripts from composers such as Verdi, Bach and Franz Liszt have had spectacular results, and the niche market for such items is starting to grow.

But the rarity of these two works, and the fact they have remained in private hands for over 150 years, means the upcoming sale could almost certainly see some record prices.


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