Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Shostakovich Autograph Musical Quotation, Signed

I have commented before here that a drawing by an artist is more desirable than a simple autograph, while a writer's thoughtful inscription is more meaningful than a plain signature. In the case of composers, one of the great collectibles is the autograph musical quotation, signed.

I understand how artists draw and how writers write much better than I understand how composers compose. While I could sit at a piano and compose an unadorned theme in C major with mostly quarter notes and eighth notes, I can't conceive of composing a syncopated, polyphonic score such as the one below. Dmitri Shostakovich is one of my favorite composers and his Fifth Symphony is perhaps his most popular work. Can composers just write out their music like this from memory? Probably quite easily, but it's beyond me.

The score:
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 Score
The auction listing from Swann Galleries:

Sale 1965 Lot 253
SHOSTAKOVICH, DIMITRI. Autograph Musical Quotation Signed, the opening two bars from his Fifth Symphony, one system written in piano score with both treble and bass lines, Signed and dated below the quotation, written in blue ink. 1 page, 31/2x51/2 inch sheet of pink paper apparently removed from an autograph album. Leningrad, 1 April 1938
Estimate $1,200-1,800
Sold for $3,910

 Apr 03 2003 10:30 

Valery Gergiev conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra:

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5


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