Bach manuscript breaks auction house record

GregJohnson June 20, 2012 0
Bach manuscript breaks auction house record

A new record has been set at auction house Christie’s after a manuscript of one of Bach‘s late cantatas sold for £337,250.

A private collector from the US bid the sum to secure the manuscript, which is the Taille part for Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV 174, Gramophone magazine reported.

Thomas Venning, director and senior specialist at Christie’s London Books and Manuscripts department, said that such manuscripts offer collectors the ability to put an everyday feel to musical pieces.

“One of the most appealing things about the original manuscripts of artistic works is the way in which they connect the timeless sphere of the work of art to the physical realities of our own temporal world, with such everyday verities as deadlines, contracts, late nights, the scratch of pen on paper,” he said.

“The manuscript Taillei, or tenor oboe part, for Bach’s cantata Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte is an attractive reminder of this contrast.”

As well as setting a new record, the sale marked the first time an example of Bach’s work has appeared on the open market for 16 years.

According to Christie’s, the manuscripts contains several handwriting styles, one of which is the “unmistakable” script of Bach himself.

The others, the auction house explained, are the works of Bach’s pupil Samuel Gottleib Heder and another copyist known as Anonymous IV.

Margaret Ford, head of the Printed Books and Manuscripts department, explained that 2012 will see some similar lots put up for sale.

“With all manuscript material, as with Old Master Pictures, there are fewer examples in circulation,” she told Gramophone.

“This year Christie’s will be exhibiting the best of what it is offering for sale, and the Bach will be one of two manuscript lots that will be part of that. There will be Degas, Rodin, Picasso and Bach. That just shows its rarity, and the recognition it deserves.”

Last week, a two-day sale of instruments and personal effects of Les Paul at Julien’s Auctions managed to raise almost $5 million (£3.2 million).

How much would you pay for a special piece of sheet music?