Sotheby’s are today selling the first contract for the publication of the St Matthew Passion.
Not signed by the composer, who had been dead for 80 years by the time Mendelssohn rediscovered the work in 1829.
Nor by his family.
Our friend Stephen Roe reports:
The document is completely unknown and unrecorded in the extensive literature on Bach and his Passion and it reveals how quickly the work was edited and printed after Mendelssohn’s concerts. It is the contract between the musician and journalist Adolf Bernhard Marx and the publisher Adolf Martin Schlesinger.
It is dated 8 April 1829, that is to say, between the second and third performances of Mendelssohn’s version. The contract is signed by both Marx and Schlesinger and was retained by the publisher in his archive, where it remained for almost two hundred years, until its recent discovery.
Read on here.