The complete manuscript of Mahler’s second symphony will be auctioned at Sotheby’s, London on 29 November 2016.
The 232-page manuscript is the highest-estimated musical manuscript ever to be offered at auction, and is predicted to sell for more than £3.5m.
This would make it the most valuable symphonic manuscript to sell at auction, surpassing the sales of the nine Mozart symphonies (£2.5 million, 1987) and Schumann’s second symphony (£1.5 million, 1994).
‘No complete symphony by Mahler, written in the composer’s own hand, has ever been offered at auction, and probably none will be offered again,’ said Simon Maguire, Sotheby’s senior specialist in books and manuscripts. ‘This is a once-inn-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a manuscript of truly outstanding historical importance.’
Written in the composer’s own hand, the manuscript remains completely unaltered, untrimmed and unbound, and includes deletions, alterations and annotations, many in blue crayon.
Alma Mahler gave the manuscript to the conductor Willem Mengelberg in 1920; it was then acquired directly by Gilbert Kaplan in 1984 (who published a facsimile edition in 1986).
An American businessman and economist, Kaplan became fascinated with the symphony upon seeing it performed at Carnegie Hall in 1965. He learned how to conduct the piece, which he would perform more than 100 times across the globe.