Sotheby’s are offering for sale in November the manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s second symphony, following the death of Gilbert Kaplan at the start of the year.
The finished score only ever had three owners – Mahler himself, the conductor Willem Mengelberg and the financial publisher-turned-conductor Kaplan, who bought it from the Mengelberg Foundation in the 1980s.
I have studied the score in New York, where it has been conserved in immaculate condition.
How do you put a price on a piece of music that changed our perception of musical space and brought the symphony into debating the afterlife?
Sotheby’s are guesstimating £3.5-4.5 million, or around $5-7 million, which would break all known records.
Nine Mozart symphonies fetched £2.5m.
In my view, the Mahler Second is historically the most significant work of music to be offered for sale since Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in November 1982 (and I was there for that one, too).
I wish I had five million to spare.
Guess I’ll just have to make do with the brilliant facsimile.