TOCH, DR. ERNST. (1887-1964). Austrian composer. SP. (“Ernst Toch”). 1p. Oblong Small 4to. New York, April 3, 1932. Inscribed in German “With friendly memories” to Russian-born, American conductor ALEXANDER SMALLENS (1889-1972). A black-and-white photograph of Toch and his young daughter, Franzi (1928-1988), signed by Toch in the upper left corner of the image.
Toch was a renowned pianist, pedagogue and avant-garde composer known for his experimental style of polyphony. The 1933 Nazi takeover of Germany prompted his emigration to the United States via Paris and London. He composed film scores in Hollywood and taught at the University of Southern California and Harvard. His 1955 Third Symphony won the Pulitzer Prize; however, his best-known work is his 1930 Geographical Fugue, famous for its “spoken chorus.” During the piece’s Berlin premiere, a young John Cage heard the piece and later published an English translation.
Smallens conducted the premiere of Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, American premieres of Strauss’s Feuersnot and Ariadne auf Naxos, and was the music director for George and Ira Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, conducting the Boston premiere in 1935. Porgy and Bess became a success both in the United States and abroad, inspiring productions for more than eighty-five years, most recently on Broadway and at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera.
Franzi’s children (Toch’s grandchildren) are notable writers: infertility expert Toni Weschler and New Yorker writer and author Lawrence Weschler.
Some small chips to the upper corners and trimmed; otherwise very good. Rare.