Lennox Berkeley The trouble is that I always find it impossibly difficult to write about my own music A two-page typed letter signed by Lennox Berkeley, 13th January 1959. The composer writes to My dear Abraham in relation to an upcoming article. The trouble is that I always find it impossibly difficult to write about my own music, and I have come reluctantly to the conclusion that it would really be better if someone else could do it. He goes on to make suggestions of possible writers, concluding, I have a full score available which I could send at once to whoever agreed to take it on. In fine condition.
Anton Webern Webern detail his early days with Schoenberg, and notes that since 1934 I have lived exclusively in relation to teaching An outstanding and rare three-page autograph letter signed by Anton Webern, 24th May 1939 to a Mr. Abraham. Webern opens by apologising for the two month delay in replying, explaining, giving information about yourself is probably the hardest thing to decide. He continues, Not knowing or having the 1928 edition of the Groves Dictionary, I cant say what might need correction. The following data on the two points you are familiar with. The composer then writes out a detailed history of his musical career. In part, I studied between 1904 and 1907 with Schoenberg in Vienna. From then until the outbreak of the war, I was active as an opera conductor at German-Austrian theatres. During the war I was enlisted but but not at the front. In 1918, I moved with Schoenberg to Mödling near Vienna (where I still live today) to compose exclusively and to give composition lessons! I soon found reason to become a conductor. In 1923, I took over the newspaper of the founded choir of the social-democratic art centre in Vienna, which was run by Dr. David Bach. In this connection, I conducted for about a decade a number of the Vienna workers symphony concerts every year. He notes some of the works that he conducted, including Schoenbergs Friede auf Erden. He continues, Also, almost exactly this time I was appointed to give orchestral concerts for the Vienna Radio and repeatedly worked abroad as a conductor. With the political changes in Austria after 1934, all this came to an end for me. Since then I have lived, just as I originally wanted to, exclusively in relation to teaching. Of my students, Ludwig Zenk in particular has already made a name for himself as a composer. Webern then moves on to address his compositional output, noting, Unfortunately, there is currently no complete list of my work that can be sent. So I have to decide to list them here. He then lists all of his works in order from Opus 12 to 28, followed by a list of pieces by other composers the he has edited. He concludes the letter by suggesting that any further queries are directed to Erwin Stein at Boosey and Hawkes, and signs off hoping that his correspondents ?wishes have been fulfilled. Letters by Webern are quite rare to the market. This one provides comprehensive details about his career. It also includes an interesting reference to the political changes in Austria after 1934, and how after that, all this came to an end for me. A curious comment given the speculation about to the extent to which Webern supported, or at the very least displayed a passive attitude, to the Nazi era. He is also known to have have visited Jewish colleagues, including the David Bach mentioned in this letter, to show his support following Kristallnacht. Ultimately, it had been his intention to leave Austria in 1945. In very fine condition. Together with the original hand-addressed envelope by Webern.
Eugene Ionesco Life is unliveable; a superb essay on the avant-garde by one of its most important proponents A superb four-page (four separate pages) autograph manuscript by Eugene Ionesco, signed by the author to the conclusion; apparently an early draft of his essay - with corrections ?- of the playwright?s preface to LAvant-garde Théâtrale, published in 1970 and edited by Tom Bishop. Written in French, in blue and black ink. In part: The featured authors in Thomas Bishop?s anthology have illustrated what was called the theatrical avant-garde between 1950 and 1960. This Parisian avant-garde proliferated just as much within France as outside her. Many are dramatic authors who became inspired by is in America, in England, in Germany, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia. A new manner of envisaging the playfulness of theatre, a new manner of writing had been invented. In fact, this theatre constituted, in one way, a new way to envisage life and, in another way, an opposition to mainstream theatre, to theatrical farce. The new dramatic authors had other themes, other problems to the mainstream authors. They concentrated on man?s fundamental problems, on his existential condition. Well, it was an examination of the human condition, of theatre, of theatrical language, of language itself. The ?new? theatre also opposed ?serious? theatre. It wasn?t educational theatre, or a ?re-education?, it wasn?t theatre with a message, it wasn?t a theatre of answers, rather a theatre of questions: the author posed offered riddles, but without handing over the key. Besides, it was now clear that all the keys handed to us by ideological theatre, Brechtian or other, were false keys. They didn?t open any doors, they provided no solutions. There aren?t, in fact, any solutions, for the moment, to the human condition. Socialism and liberalism have both failed. Life is unliveable. The new theatre was a metaphysical theatre, more metaphysical than nihilistic. The authors of this new theatre asked readers and spectators to try to respond, to try to find in themselves explanations or at least some clarifications of the problems. The poet is not a prophet, nor is he omniscient. The poet is someone who knows how to see problems where others do not see them; the poet quite simply presents problems as evidence.? ?We describe avant-garde literature or avant-garde theatre a literature or a theatre that breaks with habitual, established forms of writing, changes the manner of it, imposes or introduces a new manner, a new style. Is that what it actually is? On the one hand, yes. This is proven by a wealth of new works that belong to this Parisian ?school? On the other hand, no, because mainstream theatre still continues to exist. We need theatre for everyone, and sometimes we go to the theatre simply to be entertained. We must allow both kinds of theatre to coexist. But the fact that the Parisian school has spread, and became a school, proves it?s truth, it?s usefulness. An avant-garde ceases to be one when it has been exceeded, that?s to say when it?s been exhausted, replaced by a new style, a new language, when it?s become academic. This doesn?t seem to me to be the case of the theatre that was born between 1950 and 1960. In reality, this avant-garde only constituted a break in relation to the theatre of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In a sense, it was the mainstream, bourgeois theatre that constituted a break, or an end that still hasn?t ended. In France, psychological theatre, for example, was simply a disfigured continuation of the theatre of Racine: the passion becoming amusement, the love becoming adultery, the triangle. Also, I dare to assert that the new theatre is simply a return to traditional theatre, a return to the same sources of tragedy or the human condition, destiny unfolding. The theatre that is called ?avant-garde? was at the same time traditional and new, it was a tradition re-found. The works of Beckett remind us of the book of Joab.
William Walton An autograph postcard signed, circa early 1940s, from William Walton to Gerald Abraham. In full, You are quite right I dont take pupils for composition, but on the other hand, if you think the young man in question is really talented Im quite willing to have a look at his work. But not at the moment as Im extremely busy for the next month of two. With all season greetings, Yours, William Walton. In fine condition.
Howard Carter The tape measure almost certainly used by Carter on Tutenkamun Howard Carter’s personally owned 100 foot antique tape measure, leather, approximately 6″ X 6″, with ‘Chesterman, Sheffield, England’ embossed on both sides. At the centre is a brass catch which is used to draw the tape back in; at the side is a brass tag, which is used to draw the tape out. The tape itself is rather toned, and has clearly been put to much use — one can safely assume that it was used to measure Tutenkhamun himself! The leather casing is marked and scuffed in a few places, otherwise is in fine condition. Originating from Howard Carter’s estate, sold at Bonhams in 2012. Together with a signed letter from Carter’s great nephew, attesting to the provance. An extraordinary artifact.
Salvador Dali Handwritten musings on cinema by Salvador Dali, penned on five huge pages—complete with two surreal sketches! An extraordinary autograph manuscript in French, signed ‘Salvador Dali’, five pages on large 16″ x 17″ sheets, circa 1953. Dali’s handwritten manuscript for a piece entitled Mes secrets sinematographiques [My cinematic secrets], originally published in February 1954 in No. 14 of the review La Parisienne, in an adaptation by Michel Déon, who normalized Dali’s aberrant spelling and syntax. The manuscript reveals the delirious orality of the original Dalian text, with important variations; it is written in singular language, interspersed with Hispanicisms and phonetically reproducing the Catalan accent. Dali first affirms the conviction of his genius in cinematographic art by recalling the importance of his first two films, Un chien andalou and L’Âge d’or, and by denigrating the role of the filmmaker Luis Buñuel in the realization of these. He unveils his film project La Brouette de flesh, describing the delirious visions and hallucinations he intends to put into images. On the third page, Dali sketches two interesting figures in different styles — one a grotesque portrait a la Francis Bacon, and the other executed in the Cubist mode. In part (translated): ‘It’s been about a week since I’ve discovered that in my life I’m about 12 years behind in everything, including cinema, it’s 11 years since I planned to make a film that is totally totally one hundred percent hyper Dali, so that means that this film will probably end up being shot next year I am the opposite of the orchard and the lu de La Fontaine as in my life, and already in my adolescence I did so many sensational things At 27 I arrived in Paris and I created with Buñuel 2 films that will remain historic — Un Chien Andalou and L’Âge d’Or. Lately Buñuel has made other films on his own, so that everyone can finally know to whom belonged the brilliant side and the primary side in Le Chien andalou and L’Âge d’or . For a film to be prodigious, the first thing is for people to be able to believe in the prodigy that is shown to you, for that, above all else, is necessary to put an end to the repugnant cinematographic rhythm, this conventional and anuyuesse [boring] retort of the movement of the camera — even in the most melodrama cumun how to believe in asasin, if the camera follows him everywhere even in the sink where he will wash the blood from his hands?’ ‘My next film will be the exact opposite of an experimental vanguard film and above all of what we call today “creative” if not the servile imitation of all the commonplaces of sad modern art. My film will be a true story of a paranoid woman in love with a brute who successively takes on all the attributes of the loved one, the corpse of which had served as a means of transport; until it is embodied again in her, the bruètte becomes flesh and that is why my film will be called La Bruètte de flesh. Any refined viewer or Moayan oyster will be forced to participate in my fetishist’s delirium, for this is a strictly true case, and it will be told, as no documentary is capable of realizing it Thus I can already assure my readers that in my film he will see with all the meticulousness of the slow movements developing in the most rigorous archangelic euritmia, one after the other 5 white swans exploding. The signs will be riddled with pomegranates, also equipped with an adequate explosive charge, so that when we have been able to carefully observe the last tearings of the entrails of the swans, the explosions of the pomegranates will occur, probably such that we have already experienced the grains of the pomegranate progetated at the periphery of the anatomical dismemberment, reaching because of their small size through the intertices to the feathers in suspension, orteron these, such as one can dream and above all daydream, must occur between the corpuscles of light (pomegranate seeds and light waves
Sun Yat-sen Extremely rare letter, about his 1896 kidnapping An extremely rare autograph letter signed by Sun Yat-sen, ‘yours truly, Sun Yat Sen’, June 21st 1897. The Chinese statesman writes from 8 Gray’s Inn Place (London) to Felix Volkhosky, in English, informing his friend that ‘The number of “The Times” in which the question made [sic] in the House of Commons concerning of [sic] my kidnapping is that of the 16th of February’, and announcing his intention to leave for America at the end of the month, whilst hoping to see Volkhosky once more (‘If not let me bid fairwell [sic] to you now’). Written in dark fountain pen ink. In very fine condition. Felix Volkhovsky (1846-1914) was one of several Russian political exiles that Sun Yat-sen met in London when he arrived in 1896. Volkhovsky was editor of the monthly journal of the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, Free Russia, having previously spent seven years in solitary confinement in St. Petersburg, and eleven years in exile in Siberia before he eventually managed to escape to Canada under a pseudonym, arriving in London in 1890. Volkhovsky’s experience and knowledge were hugely influential and inspiring to Sun, who inscribed a copy of his book Kidnapped in London to him, suggesting in an accompanying letter now in the Hoover Library that the Russian may have helped him with the book. Accounts of Sun’s kidnapping and imprisonment at the hands of the Chinese are well documented, if sometimes contradictory, but the role of Hugh and Mabel Cantlie in freeing him is undisputed. Although The Times held back from printing Cantlie’s first report of the incident, the newspaper’s journalists were prominent amongst the crowd that surrounded the Chinese legation, and the day after his release he wrote to the paper thanking its readers for their support. This helped his fame to spread worldwide, and greatly improved his fundraising prospects.
Amedeo Modigliani Original drawing by Modigliani, gifted to his mistress A superb original drawing by Modigliani entitled Cariatide (1913), accomplished in graphite on an off-white 16.75″ x 10.5″ sheet, which is signed vertically in the lower right, ‘Modigliani’ and inscribed on the reverse, ‘a Madame Hastings’. An example from his ‘Caryatid’ series, the sketch depicts a human figure, either a child or a woman, with head turned towards the observer. Framed to a slightly larger size and in fine condition. From 1909 until 1914–15, Modigliani made more than seventy sketches of Caryatids, which he originally conceived as preparatory drawings for an ambitious sculpture project that he called ‘colonnes de tendresse’ (columns of tenderness). The Caryatids — stylized representations of women that functioned as columns or pilasters in an architectural setting — were notably influenced by African art, which is evident in the poses of the figures and their mask-like faces. These Caryatid sculptures were planned for a secular temple devoted to the beauty of humankind. The recipient of this drawing was Beatrice Hastings, an English writer, poet and literary critic, who shared an apartment in Montparnasse with Modigliani and became his model for countless paintings, including the 1916 work, Seated Nude. Provenance: collection of Monsieur F. (auction at Hôtel Drouot, 22nd November 1922, lot N° 14). Collection of Monsieur Coste, by descent.
Howard Carter Carter’s personally owned thermos flasks! A fabulous pair of antique thermos flasks once owned by Howard Carter. The metal flasks measure approximately 3.5″ X 14″ each, and are housed in an attractive leather box. Both the flasks and the box are in generally fine condition. Originating from Howard Carter’s estate, sold at Bonhams in 2012, the flasks are accompanied by a signed letter of provenance by Howard Carter’s great nephew. Also together with a letter from Thermos Ltd., to J.E. Carter (Carter’s nephew) stating that the flasks originate from before 1927. It seems highly likely, with these being the only surviving examples in Carter’s family, that the flasks accompanied Carter on his early trips to Egypt, and were likely by his side at the time of the discovery of Tutenkhamun’s tomb.
A typed letter signed by Ernst Krenek, 3rd April 1939, on Alamo Hotel headed paper, in Colorado Springs. The composer writes to a Mr. Abraham in German. He apologises that he hasnt the time to fully answer his correspondents questions, but recommends an article about him by Dodd, Mead & Co in New York. It was written by Dr. Heinsheimer and corrected by me, so it is absolutely authentic and also materially sufficient. There is also an almost complete, at least sufficient, list of my works. I think that this work will be accessible to you. Krenek then goes on to list works of his that are not included in the aforementioned article, including his 12 Piano Pieces and Suite for Violoncello solo. He also adds, in English, a biographical note, Appointed as professor of music at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 1939?. In fine condition. A year prior to writing this letter, Krenek had emigrated to America, having been (incorrectly) named as Jewish by the Third Reich, and thus characterised as a degenerate composer.
A rare one-page autograph letter signed by Enrique Granados (E. Granados), indistinct date-stamp to the reverse and addressed to M.D. Calvocaressi - the musicologist Michel-Dimitri Calvocaressi (1877 - 1944). Granados lets his correspondent know that he will be sitting for a photograph the next day, which will take the whole morning, and changing their meeting to another day. He adds a note underlining his disappointment in missing the pleasure of meeting his friend. In fine condition, with age-toning and a few age stains.
Slonimsky, Nicholas (1894 - 1995) A typed letter signed by composer Nicholas Slonimsky, January 5th 1956, to Mr. Abraham. He opens, Gretchaninov died day before yesterday. I enclose his obituary in the New York Times. He woul dhave been gratified by the extensive coverage and the picture. During the last few weeks of his life, he could hardly recognize people and was not coherent. He died of old age, without ascertainable terminal illness. Incidentally, he was not married to Maria Grigorievna. His first wife lived on till about 1937, and would not give him a divordce. So while everyone thought he was divorced and was married for the second time, this was not the fact. The quotation in the New York Times from his memoir is in reality an extract from my translation of his foreword to his autobiography. Signed in fountain pen ink, and sold together with the newspaper clipping that is mentioned. Two paper-clip stains, and some patches of staining, otherwise fine.
Ansermet traces the roots of Stravinsky and Ravel in works of Rimsky-Korsakov A two-page autograph letter signed by Ernest Ansermet, 8th August 1957. The conductor writes to a Mr. Boas, noting, Unfortunately I have here no scores, no documents and our librarian is in holiday, so that I am unable in this period to write a note on the Rimsky scores. Please let it write [sic] by your usual redactor, but you could print him the following remarks: Christmas Eve is interesting not only as one of the more advanced works of Rimsky, but as we find in it many musical patterns used later by Stravinsky, namely the harmonies on which Firebird and especially Katschei dance is built. The same can be said from Sadko, where we find the first melodic motif (diminished fourth) from Spanish Rhapsody - Ravel. Dubinushka is interesting because this popular song was sung during the revolution in 1905 and for this reason the Rimskhy work was prohibited by the government. Performance was not allowed. Some edge creasing, otherwise in fine condition. A letter of decidedly interesting musical content.
A marvellous signed 9.5″ X 7.5″ (including mount) portrait by Winston Churchill. A three-quarter length wartime photograph taken by Walter Stoneman (his stamp to the reverse), boldly signed in fountain pen ink beneath the image, ‘Winston S. Churchill 1942’. In very fine condition. A superlative example signed during the Second World War. As such, highly desirable.
An excellent four-bar autograph musical quotation signed by Edward Elgar. The composer has written out a quotation from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the inside cover of a small red leather hardback book of The Story of a Midsummer Night’s Dream from the play of Shakespeare, retold by Alice Spencer Hoffman. The quotation is boldly written in fountain pen ink. The cover itself has become detached from the rest of the book, otherwise the condition is fine, with the spine of the (detached) book rather worn. An excellent example.
A charming 7″ X 9″ hand-colour wood engraving on wove paper, The Trial of the Knave of Hearts for (Allegedly) Stealing the Jam Tarts, after John Tenniel, circa 1870s. Signed to the reverse by Dodgson, ‘C.L. Dodgson’ in his usual purple ink. Some slight age-spotting, otherwise in fine condition. A wonderful imagining of the famous scene from Alice in Wonderland. Extremely rare in this format.
A typed letter signed by Zoltan Kodaly (Kodaly)to Dr. Abraham, 26th September 1965. The composer writes in relation to an upcoming recital by Hungarian singer Klio Kemeny, and a possible occasion for her to sing for a BBC hearing Could you be present at this audition to help the jury that this possibility may become reality? He goes on, Another thing: the piano-accompanist Mrs. Melinda Kistetenyi is an excellent organist. I would be very glad if she could find opportunity to play at BBC or elsewhere. In fine condition, with a spot of discoloration from a paper clip. Together with the original envelope, hand-addressed by Kodaly.
A rare letter from Debussy to Ravel! A fine one-page autograph letter signed from Claude Debussy to Maurice Ravel, 21st February 1903. In full, My dear Ravel, as you are certainly at the Societe nationale this evening, would you be so kind as to give me word on what was played? Thank you in advance and with affection, Claude Debussy. He adds a post-script, We will be in touch tomorrow morning. Together with the original envelope, hand-addressed to Ravel by Debussy. An astonishing association piece between the two most important French composers of their era. In very fine condition.
I am as busy as a cat on a tin roof. Ya dig? A rare one-page autograph letter signed by Louis Armstrong, Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, on the reverse of an 8.5 x 11 Lose Weight The Satchmo Way flyer (featuring his facsimile signature), September 12th 1970. Addressed from the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Armstrong writes to Danny J. Kruslak, in full: Ive just received your record, and will give it a big listening to when I return back home in Corona N.Y. I only have my portable tape recorder with me on this trip, witch is only a two weeks engagement. I cant play the record of yours otherwise-elsewhere because right now, I am as busy as a cat on a tin roof. Ya dig? But Ive got you covered. I can relax at home an lend all ears to your platter. One too many sweethearts - it sounds like a good one already. Sooo later for the listenings! Hear? Thanks in advance. In fine condition, with light horizontal lines from onetime inclusion in a magnetic photo album.
Schoenberg, Arnold (1874 - 1951) A good one-page typed letter signed by Arnold Schoenberg, April 13th 1939. The composer writes to Mr. Abrahams in English, opening, I do not have the 1928 article of Grove?s dictionary, and consequently am unable to correct it. He goes on, I am sure you will find sufficient data in two booklets (for my fiftieth and sixteenth birthdays) published by Universal, and in the book Schoenberg, 1937 Schirmer, which you should be able to secure in London. I am at present teaching at the University of California at Los Angeles and also engaged in writing a book on the fundamentals of musical composition which I hope to publish this year. Signed boldly in fountain pen ink, with a note added in German, Sorry that I didn?pt reply to you in German. In vey fine condition. Schoenbergs book, mentioned here, The Fundamentals of Musical Composition, became an important and wellknown handbook for students of composition and musical analysis.
I was plunged up to the chin in slave papers, having absconded for the sole purposes of making myself complete master of my subject A remarkably long - eleven pages - autograph letter signed by William Wilberforce, 20th January 1790. He writes to his friend Joseph Walker in great detail, largely in relation to the Corporation and Test Acts. Wilberforce opens, For several days I have been wanting to write to you, but I have been hindered partly by the pressure of business and still more by the weakness of my eyes, the subject of this letter not allowing one to avail myself of the help of my amanuensis. He goes on, Whilst I was your guest at Eastwood I purposely abstained from the mention of the test and corporation acts; my reason I need not state to you, it must have been suggested by the delicacy of mind which indeed you on your part to observe a similar silence. It is relative to this business that I have now occasion to trouble you and I shall speak with the freedom which I wish to prevail in all our communication. If I censure pretty severely by some persons with whom you are in some sort connected, I believe you are too liberal to be offended if they are proved to be deceiving of it. About 18 months ago when my friend Mr. Gisborne was with me at Raysig, we had several conversations on the dissenters application to parliament and he being extremely favourable to it and urging his agreements with his usual ability and force. I confess I saw so much cause to doubt concerning the vote I had given against them as to resolve whenever the business should be again brought forward to consider it de novo, and to read the best publications? I should presume to form an opinion. When Mr. Beaufort gave his notice last year I was in the country plunged up to the chin in slave papers, having absconded from London for the sole purposes of making myself complete master of my subject, scarce condescending so much to the affairs of common life as to look into a newspaper, I heard and saw nothing of notice. I was never more surprised or vexed than to find accidentally the night I returned into the neighbourhood of London that Beaufort was to come on the third day after. My own motion was to follow on the Monday immediately succeeding. I, having been repeatedly delayed, could be put off no longer.
Stravinsky pens a letter in July 1910, just days after the first performance of The Firebird A very early autograph letter signed by Igor Stravinsky, in Russian, on the brink of international fame. He writes on hotel-headed paper (Grand Hotel de la Plage in La Baule) on the 11th July 1910. The composer writes, Dear Mikhail Dmitrievich, I beg you not to forget to send me at Stravinsky Chalet, Mauricette La Baule (Brittany)? my negatives and the issue of the magazine in which my portrait will be published. In anticipation of the fulfilment of your promise, I remain devoted to you, Igor Stravinsky. In very fine condition. The Firebird was premiered on 25th June 1910 and became an immediate success, catapulting Stravinsky to international fame. A fabulous early example capturing the Russian composer at a turning point in his career.
Parker, Charlie (1920 - 1955) An excellent signed and inscribed semi-glossy 5 x 3.5 candid photo of Charlie Parker with two admirers. The saxophonist writes in fountain pen ink, To Dorothy & Bob, Good Luck, Charlie Parker . In fine condition. Extremely rare in signed photographs. Parker?s autograph ranks among the most highly sought of all jazz signatures.