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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
Classical big names for auction
Some of the autographs come with a musical motif.

A cellist's collection of autographs of some of the greatest names in 20th Century classical music has gone for auction.

Ambrose Gauntlett persuaded the likes of Elgar, Prokofiev, Stravinksy and Toscanini to sign his book.

The collection was being auctioned in Colwyn Bay by his grandson.

Also up for sale was a photograph taken secretly inside Westminster Abbey of the Queen's Coronation, from a camera concealed in Gauntlett's cello case.

The 90 autographs, some with extracts of musical manuscript, were compiled in a book of dates, next to each composer or musician's birthday.

Other names collected include Richard Strauss, Yehudi Menuhin, William Walton, BBC proms founder Henry Wood and film star Ingrid Bergman.

Gauntlett's career started in 1913 and he performed with London Chamber Orchestra, before becoming principal cellist with the BBC orchestra in the 1930s.

Ambrose Gauntlett
Signature tune - Ambrose Gauntlett was a 'great collector'

He later became a professor at the Royal Academy of Music and died in 1978.

Auctioneer Christopher Proudlove, of Rogers-Jones, said Gauntlett would have had "unique access".

"These aren't from the stage door. He would have come across them at rehearsal and would have had the book with him and picked the right moment," said Mr Proudlove.

"Clearly the profiles of some of the people he came across have now become considerable in the music world.

"It's astonishing to have the names all together - it's a veritable 'who's who' and it's hard to know what they will make."

His grandson, businessman David Lea-Jones, said: "He was lucky enough to be a position to ask and also playing with these figures before they reached their peak and possibly when it may have become more difficult.

"I remember him telling me he particularly liked the ones who also wrote a little bit of music alongside their name."

Mr Lea-Jones said he hoped the autograph collection would be kept intact and that it might interest a music academy or museum.

Also in the wider collection being sold was a programme for a memorial concert in 1912 to the eight members of the Titanic's band, who perished.

  • The programme sold for 100 and the photograph of the Queen taken secretly during her Coronation for 180. The autograph book was withdrawn as the bids did not meet the required price range.

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