A new auction record has been set for a musical score. The manuscript of Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony went under the hammer in London, selling for nearly twice as much as the second priciest score.
Austrian composer Gustav Mahler's complete 232-page manuscript for his Second Symphony, written in his own hand, fetched an impressed 4.5 million pounds ($5.6 million) at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday.
The manuscript, which was offered for sale for the first time, includes the composer's original deletions, changes and annotations, many of which were noted with blue crayon. It was previously owned by US businessman Gilbert Kaplan, who passed away earlier this year.
"The work retains the form in which Mahler left it, reflecting and revealing the compositional process for the work," said Sotheby's in a statement.
The only comparable auction sales of musical scores include nine Mozart symphonies, which went for 2.5 million pounds in 1987, and Robert Schumann's Second Symphony, which was sold for 1.5 million pounds in 1994.
Mahler's monumental work, known as the "Resurrection Symphony," premiered in Berlin in 1895 and was written for 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 earth, which were so characteristic of his oeuvre," according to Sotheby's.
Kaplan, an economist, became fascinated with the work when he first heard it performed at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1965. He then received instruction from prominent conductors to be able to perform the work himself, which he went on to do over 100 times around the world.
Kaplan purchased the manuscript in 1984 from conductor Willem Mengelberg, a friend of Mahler's. He had received the score from the composer's widow, Alma Mahler, in 1920.
kbm/ct (AFP, AP)