May 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Rachmaninov Reigns

Small Rach.jpgThe only surviving autograph manuscript for Sergei Rachmaninov's Second Symphony in E Minor, OP.27, hidden away for nearly a century and subsequently the subject of an ownership dispute, sold for £1.2 million ($2 million), at Sotheby's London yesterday.

One of the few autograph manuscripts of a symphony, this 320-page manuscript reveals Rachmaninov's compositional processes--deletions, additions, annotations--and provides insight into the creation of what some argue is his greatest symphony. Composed in Dresden, it was performed in 1908 and very likely revised thereafter, making this the sole primary source for the composer's original orchestral vision.

Bound in modern half calf, the large folio had been on view at the British Library since 2005. Where it goes now, only the anonymous winning bidder (a "private collector") knows.

Image Courtesy of Sotheby's.