PARIS - Thanks to its quality, rarity and diversity, this collection of manuscripts, printed music, paintings, furniture, sculpture, drawings and musical instruments, assembled during the first half of the 20th century, is one of the most impressive French collections devoted to music. It will be offered for auction at Sotheby’s Paris on 16/17 October 2012.
André Meyer (1884-1974) was one of the few collectors to have devoted his entire life to music. He was a patron, critic and inspirer of artists, and opened his library to anyone who wished to explore its particular treasures. Serge Lifar used it to carry out research; Rostropovich worked on Debussy’s youthful manuscript albums; and Stravinsky had the thrill of rediscovering his manuscript for The Rite of Spring –which André Meyer’s son donated to the French Ministry of Culture in 1986, and is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
André Meyer began his collection in 1899 at the age of 15. In 1904 he obtained a degree in English Literature at the Sorbonne, then worked for the family textiles firm until 1954. He acquired many items for his collection during professional trips across Europe and to the United States. Such was his love of music that, in the 1920s, he bought the mansion in Rue des Petits-Champs once owned by the composer Lully. Meyer was Treasurer of the French Musicology Society from 1945 until his death in 1974. After his death, the collection was divided between family members, and this auction contains the major part of the original collection, about 450 lots.
The heart of the collection consists of manuscripts; books and printed musical scores; portraits of the composers Monteverdi, Rameau, Gluck, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann; furniture; sculpture; and a selection of old musical instruments.
Remarkable Sketchleaf of Beethoven once Owned by Frédéric Chopin
The most outstanding discovery of this collection is unquestionably a sketch leaf of exercises by Ludwig van Beethoven, containing ideas and exercises for piano - including scales, arpeggios and musical fragments in a range of keys (C Major & Minor; G Major & Minor; F Minor).
Beethoven outlined a more elaborate composition on the back, probably for a piano concerto in C Major – comprising tremolos and a passage of ascending scales for piano, culminating in a cadenza followed by a double-bar (estimate: ˆ100,000-150,000/ $122,800-184,100*).
The legendary collector Aloys Fuchs acquired Beethoven manuscripts at the auction held after the composer’s death in 1827. When Frédéric Chopin visited Vienna in 1830-1831, Fuchs presented this manuscript to him. Chopin was a great admirer of Beethoven’s work, especially his piano sonatas and the opera Fidelio.
First Collected Edition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Partitas for Keyboard
The Six Partitas are among Bach’s finest works for keyboard, and musical editions published during his lifetime are exceedingly rare. Each of the six Partitas was first published individually, starting in 1725. In 1731 Bach united them in a single volume, Clavier-Übung I, and designated it his Opus 1, as if it underlined the importance of these works. There were three further Clavier-Übung publications: the second, comprising his Italian Concerto and French Overture; the third, with the Duets and the St Anne Prelude and Fugue; and a fourth, with the Goldberg Variations (est. ˆ80,000-120,000/ $98,200-147,300).
Signed Autograph Manuscript of Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet (op.10)
This landmark work in Schoenberg’s oeuvre, and in 20th century music as a whole, broke with string quartet tradition by introducing a soprano voice to the last two movements. This manuscript is the cornerstone of Schoenberg’s development of atonality: In the fourth movement, Schoenberg for the first time dispenses with the use of key signatures.
Schoenberg composed the work in 1908 during the troubled period marked by his wife Mathilde’s affair with their mutual friend, the artist Richard Gerstl. Schoenberg’s reconciliation with his wife led to Gerstl’s suicide, and Schoenberg soberly dedicated this quartet to his wife (Meiner Frau). Weakened by thetrials of World War One war, Mathilde spent the last weeks of her life at Auersperg Sanatorium; the Seybert family invited Schoenberg and his closest relatives to stay with them so as to be close to her. After Mathilde’s death in October 1923, Schoenberg gave them this well-preserved copy of his second quartet in gratitude for their hospitality (est. ˆ100,000-150,000/ $122,800-184,100).
First Edition of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Traité de l’Harmonie, Corrected & Annotated by Rameau prior to the 2nd Edition in 1726
A leading theoretical work of the 18th century, and a starting-point for later theoretical studies, Rameau’s Treatise on Harmony or Traité de l’Harmonie réduite àses principes naturels was of fundamental importance in the development of western music, providing a synthesis of Rameau’s approach to music as a science rather than an art form. Sotheby’s will be offering the composer’s celebrated annotated copy (est. ˆ60,000-80,000/ $73,700-98,200).
The collection also includes the printed score of Marco da Gagliano’s Dafne(1608), a landmark in the development of Opera, of which only a handful of copies survive (est. ˆ30,000-40,000/ $36,800-49,100); a volume containing unique madrigal scores by Luca Marenzio, Luzzasco Luzzaschi and others (est. ˆ8,000-10,000/ $9,800-12,300); and a magnificently engraved copy of Girolamo Frescobaldi’s Secondo Libro di Toccate (Second Book of Toccatas) from 1627(est. ˆ20,000-30,000/ $24,500-36,800).
Portraits of 17th, 18th & 19th Century Composers
The collection also features a gallery of busts and portraits on paper or canvas of great composers, including Frédéric Chopin at the Piano by Jakob Götzenberger (est. ˆ10,000-15,000/$12,300-18,400); Robert Schumann by F. Mannheimer (est. ˆ6,000 -8,000/ $7,400-9,800); Franz Schubert Aged 17 (c.1814) by an unknown Austrian artist (est. ˆ10,000-15,000/ $12,300-18,400); Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis (est. ˆ10,000-15,000/ $12,300-18,400); and Jean-Philippe Rameau, in the style of Jacques-André-Joseph Aved (est. ˆ10,000-15,000/ $12,300-18,400).
The sculpture and works of art highlights include an important French, late 18th century polychrome wax profile of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (est. ˆ10,000-15,000 / $12,300-18,400), and a fine collection of caricatures of famous musicians and composers patinated plaster by Jean Pierre Dantan (1800-1869), called Dantan Jeune, of which a portrait of Giuseppe Verdi dating from 1866 (est.ˆ 5.000-7.000 / $6,100-8,600) is the focus.
Furniture & Old Musical Instruments
An important piece of pearwood paneling decorated with musical trophies (c.1730) reflects the talent of the sculptors Degoullons, Legoupil and Verbeckt (est. ˆ15,000-20,000/ $18,400-24,600). The collection also includes a rare pair of giltwood consoles adorned with musical instruments, probably from mid-18th century Germany (est. ˆ20,000-30,000/ $24,600-36,800); and a pair of chairs by Georges Jacob, whose unusual design recalls that of chairs made for Madame Elisabeth at the Château de Montreuil (est. ˆ6,000-8,000/ $7,400-9,800). There is also a small but interesting collection of keyboard instruments.
Auction at Sotheby’s Paris 16/17 October 2012
Viewing at Sotheby’s Paris
Friday 12 October 10am-6pm
Saturday 13 October 10am-6pm
Monday 15 October 10am-6pm