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David Wolman Rare Music Collection Auction

Freeman’s is pleased to announce the sale of David Wolman’s exceptional collection of rare classical music printed first edition and other significant scores, manuscripts, signed letters and photos, treatises, and other related materials.

The auction will be held at Freeman’s historic galleries at 1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 19th 2008.

Assembled with great and discriminating care, the Wolman collection is distinguished not only by its breadth, containing significant works by virtually every major and important western composer from Bach and before to Stravinsky, Gershwin and beyond, but also by its concentration of works signed or inscribed in the hands of their composers, including many copies of works presented to fellow composers, musicians, and other colleagues.

Richard Wagner is represented in the collection by, among other items, a first edition of his opera Tannhäuser in a copy inscribed to the composer Charles Gounod. Wagner had nearly been killed by an unruly mob after he refused to include the obligatory second act ballet in the Paris production of Tannhäuser. Fashionable gentlemen of the day expected to arrive late at the opera, usually drunk, in order to admire their ballerina mistresses. Gounod denounced their boorish behavior and Wagner thanked him with this warmly inscribed copy of his opera.

English-language 20th-century opera owes much to the British composer Benjamin Britten. The Wolman collection includes a pre-publication issue of his opera Billy Bud, based on Herman Melville’s last work, which belonged to the opera’s librettist, the distinguished English novelist and man of letters, E.M. Foster. The cover of each of its fine volumes is signed by Foster and the first bears his printed ownership label. The collection also contains a first edition presentation copy of the piano vocal score of Britten’s most important work, and likely the seminal 20th-century English-language opera, Peter Grimes. This copy is inscribed by Britten to the librettist Montague Slater. Among other opera scores represented in the collection are the first edition of Christoph W. Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, signed by Gluck, the first Paris edition of Vincenzo Bellini’s La Straniera, sumptuously bound for Charlotte Louise, wife of Nicholas I, emperor of Russia from 1825-1855., the first edition of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, the first edition, first issue of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, the first issue of the first edition of the full score of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, as well as the first edition of the libretto for his Zauberflöte, which was sold at the box office at the original 1791 production.

As a child prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart traveled with his father Leopold Mozart and his family to perform on the continent and in England. The family published many scores composed by the prodigious child Mozart, among those represented in Wolman’s collection is Four Sonatas for the Harpsichord with Accompaniment for a Violin by Wolfgang Mozart Seven Years of Age, London, 1765. This copy contains manuscript corrections, most probably in Leopold’s hand. Wolfgang Leopold Mozart is also represented in the collection, in addition to the operas above, by many first and life time editions of scores including the Auernhammer Sonata, dedicated to his amorous piano pupil Josepha von Auernhammer; III Sonates pour le clavecin ou piano (KV 300-2), 1785; XII Menuetten, the famous dances for piano published in the last year of Mozart’s life, 1971; Quarto à deux violons, alto, violon celle (KV 499), 1786, commissioned by Grafen Walsegg auf Stuppach, who also mysteriously commissioned Mozart’s Requiem; the first edition of the full score of the Mass in C Minor; the first edition, with a complete set of the orchestral parts, of Mozart’s last piano concerto (KV 595), completed in January of 1791, first performed in March, and published on August 10th of the year, Mozart performed the concerto at his last public appearance; the first edition of the parts of his violin concerto (KV 268).

Speaking of violin concertos, and as an example of its rich exfoliation, this collection also includes a presentation copy of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G Minor; a presentation copy of the parts of the first edition of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto as well as the first edition of the full score; the first edition of Ludwig von Beethoven’s monumental Concerto for Violin; the first edition of Franz Joseph Hayden’s complete string quartets, which includes the unfinished op. 103; the first edition in original parts of Ludwig von Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 10 in G (op. 96), his last violin sonata.

The catalogue to accompany the sale will describe the entire collection. This overview remains grossly incomplete even if it notes as present in collection, in addition to lifetime editions of Johan Sebastian Bach and Arcangelo Corelli, first editions of Beethoven’s Forth Symphonie, Hayden’s The Creation; Schubert’s Winterreise and Der Wanderer; Robert Schumann’s “Rhenish” symphony, scores signed and inscribed by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Satie, Poulenc, Messiaen, Ives, and many others.

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