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Letter Praising Monteux and Spivakovsky

$1050 net
Item: 22477
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BLOCH, ERNEST. (1880-1959). Swiss-born, American composer of Schelomo and other masterpieces. ALS. (“Ernest Bloch”). 2pp. Small 4to. Agate Beach, January 24, 1952. (To French-born, American conductor PIERRE MONTEUX, 1875-1964). On Bloch’s personal stationery. In French with translation.

As soon as I received your letter, I was going to write to you, not to speak of myself but of you. The radio reception here is practically impossible, but off and on we can get the Standard Hour – and we enjoyed your last one. The music, or rather the musicians and the ‘modern’ works disappoint us so often… My wife balked at the notion of the Akademische Ouverture, which she detests – perhaps because she is German! – but you have conquered her as well as me, by your brilliance and your humor – And what a Bach! What joy to hear a conductor who [considers?] music and style and this without ‘putting himself forward’!

As for the Brahms, you and that admirable Spivakovsky delivered such a beautiful and moving interpretation that we were sorry not to hear the entire concerto.

I was pleased to hear that all is well and to hear about the violin concerto and the Symph. Concerto with Corinne Lacenoblé [?] I would love to hear both of them! I have only heard the one for violin on the existing recording which… disheartens me a bit. And the one for piano, only from the podium.

I will do everything possible to come, and I hope nothing will come up to stop me. To you, as well as to Mme. Monteux, my warmest greetings from both of us…” 

Pierre Monteux

Pierre Monteux


Bloch portrait

Ernest Bloch

Jacob “Jascha” Spivakovsky

Jacob “Jascha” Spivakovsky

After studying in Belgium and Germany, Bloch eventually moved to the United States where he became the first teacher of composition at the Mannes College’s New School for Music. From 1920 to 1925, he was the Cleveland Institute of Music’s first director, after which he was director of the San Francisco Conservatory until 1930. After living in Switzerland for a decade he returned to America in 1939 to take a position as a professor of music at the University of California at Berkeley, from which he retired in 1952. He lived in Agate Beach, Oregon, from 1941 until his death.

Bloch’s compositions reflect his varied life experiences both as a Jew and an American. Most of his works have either Jewish themes like Avodath Hakodesh, Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra and Baal Shem Suite: Three Pictures of Chassidic Life for Violin and Orchestra or are neo-classical such as the Concerto Grosso and the epic rhapsody America.

As the conductor for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Monteux had premiered such notable productions as Stravinsky’s Petrushka, The Rite of Spring and The Nightingale as well as Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. In addition to leading the San Francisco Symphony from 1935 to 1952, he also led those of Boston, Amsterdam, Paris, and London. The Standard Symphony Hour, referred to in our letter, was a weekly radio show that featured the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera, broadcast by NBC from the West Coast and often featured Monteux.

Our letter comments on Monteux’s program including German composer Johannes Brahms’ (1833-1897) Academic Festival Overture (Akademische Festouvertüre) and an unidentified piece by German baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) performed by Russian-Jewish concert pianist Jacob “Jascha” Spivakovsky (1896-1970), considered Anton Rubinstein’s “heir,” and renowned for his interpretations of Bach and Brahms. Nine-year-old Spivakovsky and his family (which included his brother, celebrated violin virtuoso Nathan “Tossy” Spivakovsky) fled the 1905 Russian pogroms in Odessa, settled in Berlin, but later faced persecution under the Nazis. In 1933, Richard Strauss conveyed a message in musical code to Spivakovsky that he was a target of the Nazis, allowing him to flee, after which he devoted himself to helping others escape, returning to the stage only after World War II. Celebrated during his lifetime for his live performances, he made no commercial recordings which led to excitement when, in 2015, his concert recordings were issued beginning with Jascha Spivakovsky: Bach to Bloch, renewing critical esteem for his talent.

Our letter mentions Bloch’s wife Marguerite Schneider (1881-1963) as well Monteux’s third wife, Doris Hodgkins Monteux (1894-1984).

A wonderful “association letter” and in excellent condition.

Letter Praising Monteux and Spivakovsky

$1050 net • item #22477

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