Sotheby's auction supports College Library development

Sotheby's auction supports College Library development


An auction at Sotheby’s on December 1st is set to feature seven manuscript items from the College’s Library.

The seven items, none of which concerns the organ, organ music or subjects relevant to the College’s main library holdings, include music and letters in the hands of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart (Wolfgang and his sister, Nannerl) and Rossini.

The proceeds of the sale will used as an endowment for supporting the future operation of the College’s Library and Archive.

The RCO’s Director of Academic Development, Andrew McCrea, explained that the manuscripts were the most important of the items remaining from the collection of John Ella, which was given to the College in 1914 by the widow of John Belcher, RA, who had become involved with the College through his work on our then headquarters at Kensingston Gore.

He explained: “John Ella was a 19th Century violinist and London impresario who had travelled widely and collected various precious manuscripts and printed music. What Belcher received would have been a fraction of the original collection.

“Since receiving the collection in 1914 the College has sold the Ella holdings in two tranches, the last time being in 1981.

“Both previous sales of Ella’s material raised important sums of money for maintaining the College’s Library, and we are hopeful that December’s sale will do the same.”

The items for sale include an autograph manuscript of part of the full score of Opferlied, Op.121b by Beethoven, an autograph manuscript of Mozart’s copy of the finale of Michael Haydn’s Symphony in D (MH 287), and an autograph manuscript from Rossini’s opera Maometto II.

To see more details on these items, and the rest of the December 1st auction, visit the Sotheby’s website here and view lots 6, 7, 47, 48, 51, 53, and 74.

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