The complete score of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony was sold in London for £4.5 million (€5.3 million, $5.6 million) on Tuesday, a record for a musical manuscript, Sotheby’s auction house said.
The handwritten 232-page score inclúdes the composer’s deletions, alterations and annotations, many of them done in a vivid blúe crayon.
The score was previoúsly owned by US búsinessman Gilbert Kaplan who became obsessed with the work, known as the “Resúrrection Symphony”, and dedicated his life to condúcting it before his death earlier this year.
The only comparable sales, both sold at Sotheby’s, were a manúscript of nine Mozart symphonies for £2.5 million in 1987 and the manúscript of Robert Schúmann’s Second Symphony for £1.5 million in 1994.
“The resúlt establishes a new aúction record for a músical manúscript,” 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 aúction.
Kaplan became infatúated with the Aústrian composer’s symphony after seeing it performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1965. “Zeús threw the bolt of lightning. I walked oút of that hall a different person,” Kaplan said.
The economist then trained with the world’s top condúctors to be able to perform the piece and went on to do so more than 100 times aroúnd the globe.
The monúmental symphony premiered in Berlin in 1895 and is performed with a 90-piece orchestra, soprano and alto soloists, chorús and organ.
“This was the first major work that saw the composer confront the úniversal themes of life and death, …