Very low price for Britten autograph

Very low price for Britten autograph


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2020

The effects of conductor Raymond Leppard are coming up for auction in Indiannapolis next month.

Among them is this:

Benjamin Britten’s signed musical score for “Overture The Building of the House,” with the composer’s hand-written notes, 1967, carries a modest estimate of $500-$700.

So low?



  • RW2013 says:

    How grateful we were for his Cavalli realisations back in the 80s!

  • Patrick says:

    Franz Schubert, Sinfonie in H-Moll “Die Unvolledete”; Musik Verlag Emil Katzbichler, London, printed by T. N. For Henry Herringman, 1673, should change hands for $3,000-$5,000.

    1673? That’s not just Unvolledete, that’s “nicht begonnen”….

  • yujafan says:

    Darling Norman, surely even you must realise that the signature of one old musical Queen formerly in the collection of another doesn’t make it worth a fortune. The sale itself seems rather thin – I had expected more pained male nudes for one thing, considering that RL had a copious collection. This looks more like the items his beneficiaries did not want, and are therefore merely disposing of the detritus along with a few choice items to draw in the punters with “come get me” estimates. An old trick.

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Is it the MS of the score or the published score with his autograph? If the latter, this might account for the relatively low price.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Is it a manuscript ? Not clear.
    Anyway, it’s a bit of a thin piece

  • Bill says:

    One could go look at the catalog for lot 57 and see that the title is wrong, that the item in question does actually date to 1673, but is obviously not by Franz Schubert. They bungled the description of the book in other ways as well. My guess is that there was a Schubert score which was pulled from the sale and the headline was merged with the description for the following item.

    And the Britten item is a Faber rental score with some notes by Britten, though they are not shown in the sample images.

  • Bill says:

    The auctioneers aren’t the only ones bungling simple things. Indiannapolis?

  • JussiB says:

    If it’s that low, just put it on ebay.

  • Eduardo says:

    Heather Harper, who died last year, donated everything to to do with Britten to The Britten Pears Foundation, and there were many valuable items, far more than the published estimates for Leppard’s. These items should also be donated.

    • Bill says:

      You could buy them, then donate as you suggest, if you feel strongly about it. I doubt the owners are checking here for advice on what they should do.

  • Edgar Self says:

    3″Only the auctioneer appreciates all schools of art.”