NEW YORK -- A commodities trader who secretly amassed manuscripts handwritten by the titans of classical music has donated his collection to the Juilliard School, the conservatory announced yesterday.
The 139-piece collection ranges from Purcell's opera ''Dido and Aeneas," dating to the 1680s, to works by Schnittke written in the 1990s. Also included are works by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner, Mahler, and Stravinsky, among many others.
''It's a historic day at the Juilliard School," said Joseph W. Polisi, president of the conservatory, which is celebrating its centenary year. ''The gift represents one of the finest collections of musical manuscripts to be amassed in modern times."
Bruce Kovner, chairman of Juilliard's board and founder of the hedge fund Caxton Associates LLC, acquired the items during the past decade through anonymous purchases at auctions.
''I started collecting just for the personal pleasure of being close to these icons of the greatest musical achievements in Western music," Kovner said. ''At a certain point I realized that it would be better to make this collection available to the rest of the world rather than to keep it under a mattress."
Among his acquisitions was Beethoven's 80-page piano transcription of the ''Grosse Fuge," discovered recently at a suburban Philadelphia seminary. Kovner, the now no-longer-anonymous buyer, purchased it for $1.95 million late last year at
The collection also includes the first known sketches and manuscript prepared for the printer of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with corrections handwritten by the composer, and the autograph score of the final scene of Mozart's opera ''Le Nozze di Figaro."
What will now be called the Juilliard Manuscript Collection will be housed at the school in 2009, after a new reading room is built. It will be available to scholars, performers, and the public by appointment.
''I think that . . . the Bach manuscript or the changes that Mozart made in the score or the markings -- absolutely unknown and authentic -- on Brahms's Opus 118 are going to inspire performers, are going to inspire a generation of students here," Kovner said.