The only surviving autographed manuscript for Rachmaninov's Second Symphony will sell at Sotheby's on May 20, providing a rare opportunity for classical music collectors.
The lot is one of only a few handwritten manuscripts from works regularly played around the world today still in private ownership, and is one of Rachmaninov's greatest compostions, as reflected in the £1m-1.5m ($1.6m-2.5m) estimate given by Sotheby's.
Spread across a remarkable 320 pages, the manuscript sheds new light on Rachmaninov's compositional processes at the peak of his career. Including unpublished material, previously unknown to scholars, there are no other examples of the Second Symphony in E Minor known in any format.
Influenced by Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) created the symphony in Dresden in 1906-1909 for a series of concerts managed by his cousin Alexander Siloti.
Performed on January 2 in St Petersburg and February 2, 1908 in Moscow, it is likely the composition was altered soon after, making this the only evidence of the original score.
The manuscript has appeared at auction before, with Sotheby's announcing the sale in 2004. However, an ownership claim saw the sale postponed, and it was later sold in a private deal in 2005.
According to Sotheby's, the last comparable sale took place in 1994, when Robert Schumann's manuscript for Symphony No 2 in C Major, Op.61 made £1.4m ($2.4m).
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