Score sells for record £4.5 mln

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The com­plete score of Gus­tav Mahler's Se­cond Sym­phony was sold in Lon­don for £4.5 mil­lion yes­ter­day, a record for a mu­si­cal man­u­script, Sotheby's auc­tion house said. The hand­writ­ten 232-page score in­cludes the com­poser's dele­tions, al­ter­ations and an­no­ta­tions, many of them done in a vivid blue crayon. The score was owned by US busi­ness­man Gil­bert Ka­plan who be­came ob­sessed with the work, known as the "Res­ur­rec­tion Sym­phony", and ded­i­cated his life to con­duct­ing it be­fore his death ear­lier this year.

The only com­pa­ra­ble sales, both sold at Sotheby's, were a man­u­script of nine Mozart sym­phonies for £2.5 mil­lion ($3.1 mil­lion, 3 mil­lion eu­ros) in 1987 and the man­u­script of Robert Schu­mann's Se­cond Sym­phony for £1.5 mil­lion in 1994. "The re­sult es­tab­lishes a new auc­tion record for a mu­si­cal man­u­script," Sotheby's said in a state­ment. "The work re­tains the form in which Mahler left it, re­flect­ing and re­veal­ing the com­po­si­tional process for the work," it said, adding that it was the only com­plete Mahler sym­phony ever sold at auc­tion.

There were four tele­phone bid­ders for the Aus­trian com­poser's work but the even­tual buyer chose to re­main anony­mous. The start­ing price had been set at £3.5 mil­lion. In the same auc­tion of mu­si­cal manuscripts, a score said to be au­to­graphed by Beethoven, but the au­then­tic­ity of which had been ques­tioned, failed to sell. The man­u­script of the Al­le­gretto in B Mi­nor for String Quar­tet had been put up for sale by Sotheby's with a start­ing price of £150,000. But Barry Cooper, a mu­si­col­o­gist and Beethoven scholar, told BBC ra­dio there were in­con­sis­ten­cies in how the notes were writ­ten.

Some notes were "slightly am­bigu­ous" but for oth­ers it was "clear" that "copiers sim­ply mis­copied a note in a way that Beethoven cer­tainly wouldn't," he said. "The curves in this copy are much more curved and el­e­gant than any curves in Beethoven's man­u­script," he said. Si­mon Maguire, head of mu­si­cal manuscripts at Sotheby's, said the work had been au­then­ti­cated by two Beethoven ex­perts. "If we got some­thing wrong, we would have to pay out," he said.

'Bolt of light­ning'

Ka­plan be­came in­fat­u­ated with Mahler's sym­phony af­ter see­ing it per­formed at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1965. "Zeus threw the bolt of light­ning. I walked out of that hall a dif­fer­ent per­son," Ka­plan said. The econ­o­mist then trained with the world's top con­duc­tors to be able to per­form the piece and went on to do so more than 100 times around the globe.

The mon­u­men­tal sym­phony pre­miered in Ber­lin in 1895 and is per­formed with a 90-piece orches­tra, so­prano and alto soloists, cho­rus and or­gan.

"This was the first ma­jor work that saw the com­poser con­front the univer­sal themes of life and death, which were so char­ac­ter­is­tic of his oeu­vre," Sotheby's said. The man­u­script was given by Alma Mahler, the com­poser's widow, to the con­duc­tor Willem Men­gel­berg, a friend of Mahler's, in 1920. Ka­plan bought it from the con­duc­tor's es­tate in 1984. — AFP

This file photo shows An­thony Cheng, founder of the Mahler So­ci­ety of Hong Kong look­ing at the score by Aus­trian com­poser Gus­tav Mahler’s Se­cond Sym­phony, the ‘Res­ur­rec­tion’, at the Sotheby’s show­room in Hong Kong. — AFP

This file photo shows Ja­panese pop singer at a Tokyo po­lice sta­tion. — AFP

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