Academic journal article The Beethoven Newsletter

The Music Auction Market

Academic journal article The Beethoven Newsletter

The Music Auction Market

Article excerpt

The major auction markets for music continue to have items of strong interest for collectors. Two recent sales held by Sotheby (London) on May 28 and Stargardt (Marburg, West Germany) on June 12 of this year illustrate the strength of the market. The successful bidder must pay an additional surcharge over the bid price (10% at Sotheby, 15% at Stargardt); this is included in the dollar prices given below, as well as the approximate exchange price at the time of the sales.

Sotheby had four first editions of Beethoven's music, all bringing considerably more than the estimate. The print of one work, "Christ on the Mount of Olives," Op. RS, was offered as a first edition, but several sharp observers pointed out that it was actually a second issue of the first edition. Although this was mentioned by the auctioneer prior to bidding, the print still fetched £380 ($620), even with an estimate of £2500 -300. A more interesting item was a copy of the first movement of the fortepiano part for the "Emperor" Concerto. Written in a scribal hand, it was signed and dated by Beethoven on the first page. This was enough to bring in the low end estimate of £10,000 ($16,300).

The importance of letters written to Beethoven and letters written by his friends and acquaintances to his contemporaries was amply demonstrated by one lot of twenty-nine letters written to Johann Streicher, an Austrian fortepiano maker, by various musicians and artists - $12,000; a letter written by the daughter of Count Waldstein to Streicher- $325; and a collection of musical quotations signed by people known to Beethoven - $1,260. …

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