Rediscovered manuscript of Russian composer’s ‘original’ Second Symphony goes into private hands.

The original handwritten manuscript of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony has sold at auction in the UK for £1.2million (or nearly $2.2 million AUS) .

The Second, thought by many to be Rachmaninov’s greatest purely orchestral work, received its premiere in St Petersburg in 1908 after which the 320-page score apparently went missing. The composer subsequently revised the orchestration creating the form in which the work is heard today. The manuscript, sold at Sotheby’s, is believed to be the only record of Rachmaninov’s original ideas.

The score reveals a plethora of differences from Rachmaninov’s later versions of the work. It’s marked up with various corrections and annotations and there are even a few bars of new music.

According to Sotheby’s, the manuscript was bought by a private collector. The score was presumed lost until it was discovered in a private collection in 2004. At the time it was offered for sale by the auction house, but it had to be withdrawn after members of Rachmaninov’s surviving family put in a claim, maintaining that there was no evidence of the composer having sold the manuscript during his lifetime.

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