Two conducting batons and a mother-of-pearl cigar cutter, owned and used by the German composer Richard Wagner, will go under the hammer later this year in Boston.
A guide price of £42,280 ($65,000) has been given by the American firm handling the sale, Schubertiade Music LLC, specialist dealers of first editions, manuscripts and autograph scores.
‘We handle all types of autograph rarities,’ explains Schubertiade owner Gabriel Boyers, ‘but these impressive batons and charming cigar cutter are the kind of items which only come along even more rarely: actual items from the collection of such a figure of historical importance.’
The items, which were presented to conductor Anton Seidl by Cosima Wagner after her husband’s death, are framed together with an envelope addressed to Seidl by Wagner in the last weeks of his life.
A longstanding colleague and friend of the composer, Seidl was one of the copyists for Der Ring des Nibelungen. After Wagner’s death he took up conductorships in New York where he met and reportedly fell in love with socialite Freda Eising to whom he in turn presented the objects.
‘What is immediately striking is their [the batons] sheer size – certainly when compared with the models in use today,’ says Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard, ‘which might suggest that Wagner felt he needed to make his artistic vision unambiguously clear to the musicians.’