Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Mozart Manuscript Auctions for $1 Million
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 06:24 PM
A five-page manuscript of an incomplete Mozart Kyrie was auctioned on Tuesday by Sotheby's in London for 578,500 pounds, or about $1 million.
As previously reported, the manuscript was expected to fetch between $500,000 and $800,000, estimates themselves that some scholars considered to be exceedingly high. It appears that a fascinating back-story played a part in the elevated sales price. The manuscript had been smuggled to South America by Rudolph Götz, a German Jew escaping the Nazis in 1938. Götz's 88-year-old daughter sold the manuscript in the hopes of seeing it returned to Europe.
Despite the remarkable lineage, the Kyrie earned less than half of what the auction’s top-selling lot fetched. An autographed copy of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, dating to 1907–08, went for $2 million. That piece was lost shortly after the work’s premiere, before resurfacing a decade ago.
Below: Listen to a performance of the Mozart Kyrie.