The Only surviving manuscript of Rachmaninov’s greatest symphony goes under the hammer. This truly remarkable musical rarity, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony in E Minor, OP.27 will be offered on sale by Sotheby’s on 20th May 2014. The 320-page document that was assumed lost for nearly a century could fetch £1 million – £1,5 million ($1,6 million – $2,5 million). Rachmaninov’s second is his greatest work and was completed in Dresden by mid-January of 1908. Rehearsals were directed by his friend and cousin Alexander Siloti and Rachmaninov himself conducted the first performance in St Petersburg on 26 January 1908.
It is this manuscript that experts believed he used. It contains a wealth of new information, revealing Rachmaninov’s compositional processes when he was at the height of his powers, in one of his greatest works. There is even new unpublished material, unknown to Rachmaninov scholars and absent in any edition of the symphony. It is the only surviving manuscript providing any insight into the genesis and evolution of this celebrated work. No early sources, whether sketches, short-score drafts, or copyists’ manuscripts have survived: this seems to be the sole primary source.
“It is a magnificent manuscript,” said Stephen Roe, Sotheby’s worldwide head of books and manuscripts. “Everything is here, the whole story, the whole great Russian novel that is the second symphony.”
It will be the second time Sotheby’s has attempted to sell the manuscript. In 2004, to some astonishment, it emerged that the manuscript, which had long been thought lost, had in fact been in the collection of an unnamed European collector.