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Letter Discussing His Inability to Conduct London Philharmonic and Mentioning Glazunov

Signed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

$1680 net
Item: 22816
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RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, NICOLAI. (1844-1908). Russian composer of The Snow Maiden, Sadko and Scheherazade. LS. (“N. Rimsky-Korsakov”). 1p. 4to. St. Petersburg, (Dated in Rimsky-Korsakov’s hand) October 18/31, 1904. To a gentleman. In English.

I beg to acknowledge your letter of 11 October and to thank you for your amiable reference to my compositions. I look forward to pleasure of reading with much interest your work on Russian music. I regret to say that I cannot do as you propose, that is to say, conduct certain compositions of mine in London at concerto [sic] of the Philharmonic Society. My occupation at the Conservatoire in Petersburg, and time taken up in composing, unfortunately prevents me from making such a journey; and for some time past I have entirely given up leading at concerto.

I have heard much from Mr. Glazunov about his sojourn in London and about the Philharmonic Society’s concerts, which have left upon him so favorable an impression. I much regret to be unable to afford myself so great a pleasure…”

Image of Rimsky Korsakov

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

A member of a group of St. Petersburg composers known as The Five, Rimsky-Korsakov was a prolific composer of operas, symphonies, marches, concerti, songs, chamber music, and folksong collections. In 1871, he joined the faculty of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, renamed in his honor in 1944. His best known-work, Scheherazade, an orchestral work inspired by The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (better known as The Arabian Nights), was composed in 1888. It became extremely popular and, in 1910, the Ballet Russes staged Scheherazade with choreography by Michel Fokine and a libretto by Fokine and Léon Bakst.

A child prodigy, Alexander Glazunov’s (1865-1936) talents came to Rimsky-Korsakov’s attention through Mily Balakirev, a fellow member of The Five. Rimsky premiered the 16-year-old’s first symphony in 1882, taking him as a pupil and forming a close mentorship and friendship with him. Glazunov became a conductor and one of Russia’s leading composers and a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, becoming director in 1905. “Within Russian music, Glazunov has a significant place because he succeeded in reconciling Russianism and Europeanism… he remains a composer of imposing stature and a stabilizing influence in a time of transition and turmoil,” (The New Grove Dictionary).

At the time of our letter, London’s Philharmonic Society was under the direction of Henry J. Wood, “a special student of and sympathizer with the Russian school of music,” who had included Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnole in his January 1904 program, (“Philharmonic Society Conducted by Henry J. Wood,” The New York Times, January 9, 1904).

Folded into quarters with file holes in both the upper and left margins. One unprofessionally repaired tear on the verso affects several letters; otherwise very good. Uncommon, especially in English.

Letter Discussing His Inability to Conduct London Philharmonic and Mentioning Glazunov

Signed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

$1680 net • item #22816

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