Price: $850.00


The British composer pens and autographs in titles in pencil a 2 bar partially orchestrated woodwind sketch revision in pencil for his publisher of his early 1839 orchestral overture, “Die Waldnymphe” or “The Wood Fairy” on oblong music paper. (6.75” x 10.5”) The specific passage is bar 44 of the opening section marked “Andante Sostenuto”.  The publisher Carl Friedrich Kistner has written a note describing the note paper, in translation, Bill note (music) paper for Mr. Bennett (four length form). oblong - not 12 or 14 lines - 12/1 1839. We offer with a 7” x 10.25” original stipple engraving by Edward William Stodardt from an Elliot & Fry photograph and published by William Mackenzie in London. Perfect for display!

Bennett (1816-1875) is considered the most important British composer of the early Romantic period.  Orphaned at three, his paternal grandfather John Bennett was an oratorio bass who lived in Cambridge and gave the young composer his first music lessons.  In 1824 at the age of eight, he was selected for the boy’s choir at King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University, where he sung with his grandfather for two years.  In 1826 at the age of ten, he was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music as a child prodigy.  Composition studies with William Crotch, Charles Lucas, Cipriani Potter and  William Henry Hommes led to multiple published works whilst still a student including two piano concertos, a variety of pieces for piano solo and his overture “Parisina”. In 1833, reviews of his performed works reached the ears of Felix Mendelssohn who invited him to Germany.  By 1836, Bennett spent considerable time in Leipzig where he was a member of Mendelssohn’s circle of musical colleagues. Robert Schumann, was one of his earliest champions during his time in Germany. In 1837 Bennett was appointed Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, but continued to spend months in Germany eevery year until 1843.  

Our musical sketch is not a souvenir, but a working manuscript revision before publication of his overture “Die Waldnymphe”.  The work was published by Kistner in Leipzig in 1839.  Kistner (1797-1844) earned his reputation for his stable of top contemporary composers, including Czerny, Hiller, Kalkbrenner, Liszt, Mayer, Mendelssohn, Moscheles, Pixis, Rietz and Thalberg among others.  Kistner’s note attached refers to the very paper he sold to Bennett.  The piece itself was completed in Leipzig in November, 1838 and first performed by the Gewandhaus under the direction of Mendelssohn in January, 1839.  The overture received rave reviews and the twenty-two year old composer told his RAM friend and music critic James William Davison, You will, I think find nothing melancholy in it, but on the contrary, plenty of fun. Robert Schumann wrote the overture was, ...a bouquet, to which Spohr had given some flowers, Weber and Mendelssohn others, but to which Bennett had himself given the most, while the delicate hand which had designed and arranged them was his and his alone. Schumann went on to say, wonderful tender, slender construction, to breathe of the clearest, purest poetic vitality. (quotation from David Byers’s liner notes for the Lyrita CD, William Sterndale Bennett, Overtures and Symphony in G Minor, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Nicholas Braithwite conductor.)

Sketches like this are generally retained by the composer in today’s music publishing world, as copies are sent.  In this case, the young 23 year old composer, working in Leipzig at the time likely handed the change to Kistner, who retained the sketch.  The unusual affixed note with the size of the staffed paper is likely why, as it probably was the preferred paper of Bennett and was retained for the next time he ordered music paper.

Unusual and historic of one of his early works championed by both Mendelssohn and Schumann !




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