Rare Haydn manuscripts in Australia for 150 years

Drafts that reveal process of composition were once kept in an envelope under the owner's bed. Marianne Macdonald reports

A valuable group of four draft manuscripts by Haydn, which had been kept by their owner under her bed in a padded envelope, are to be sold by Sotheby's next month. It is the first time such complete works by the composer have come to auction.

The working draft of the four famous string quartets, Opus 50, Numbers 3, 4, 5, and 6, which are bound together in a book, are extremely rare and throw light on the composing process.

They were first discovered in 1982 when the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, took them in a shopping bag to show experts at a Haydn festival in her home city of Melbourne, Australia.

She is understood to have known what the manuscript was because it had been in her family for more than a century. What she did not know was that her version of the string quartets was unknown to scholars and considered lost.

When she was told about the value of her possession, it was transferred to a bank for safekeeping. At the beginning of this year, she decided to sell. The auction takes place at Sotheby's on 18 May, with an estimate of up to £750,000 for the four quartets.

The owner said in a statement: "They are not doing anybody any good in a bank vault. My husband and I have been music fans all our lives and I would like to establish a trust to help young people with talent make their way in the music world."

Stephen Roe, Sotheby's music specialist, said the manuscripts differed in small but significant details from the version which Haydn published in 1787.

"There are additional bars and crossed-out bars. The draft shows how the composer got to his final version. A lot of the movement titles are different, for example: in one movement he substituted `allegro' for `allegretto' in the published version."

The manuscripts have had a chequered history since they were written by the Austrian composer in the mid-1780s.

It is thought that Haydn gave them to his friend Muzio Clementi, the Italian composer, who made annotations. They came into the present owner's family in 1851 when they were bought in London by her ancestor, a retired English colonel, before he and his family emigrated to the Antipodes.

In the 19th century they languished on a sheep farm in New Zealand and survived a crossing by ship to Australia.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies