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Lot 155: a remarkable ballet manuscript
Lot 155: a remarkable ballet manuscript A manuscript which is almost certainly Sergei Prokofiev’s draft overture for his unpublished ballet “Trapeze” is to go up for auction in London next month.

The Prokofiev manuscript (pictured) is lot 155 in the sale of Printed and Manuscript Music which takes place on 25 May. It is thought the extremely rare item might fetch between £30,000 and £40,000.

The ''Ouverture'' is written for full orchestra, including piano, and is notated in an extended short score, with several instruments condensed onto single lines. The 11-page manuscript comprises 132 bars and is written in black ink on up to 24 staves per page, with extensive deletions, corrections, revisions and alterations. It is thought to date from around 1920.

Auctioneers Sotheby’s said the overture would appear to have been intended for the unpublished ballet Trapeze Op.39, commissioned by the Romanov Company and originally composed in 1924-1925. “Autograph manuscripts by Prokofiev are of the greatest rarity at auction. Indeed, very few manuscripts, particularly of such length, have ever been offered for public sale.”

None of the music found here is included in the well-known Quintet for wind and strings Op.39 (known to have been modelled on the ballet score), but Prokofiev did subsequently use this music for the first movement of the Divertissement, Op. 43 (1925-1929), a work scored for full orchestra, but without piano.

Sotheby’s said the manuscript was “evidently a working score, where Prokofiev is making an early draft of the music. His manuscript is therefore remarkable for the way in which he has written straight into full score, adding instruments here and there, with no regard to their usual layout in a final score. Another composer might have first essayed such a draft in short score, without clear designation of the instruments, or even for piano.”

Prokofiev is this month’s featured composer on – to find out more about the composer’s life and works, and to listen to exclusive live performances of his works, visit:

Thu Apr 26 2001 (7:29:11 AM)