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TLS Mapping Out His Future with CBS Records

$2040 net
Item: 22684
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STRAVINSKY, IGOR. (1882-1971). Russian-born, American composer of The Rite of Spring, Petroushka, The Firebird, and many other 20th-century masterpieces. TLS. (“I. Stravinsky”). 2pp. 4to. With a 2pp. 4to. typed document with emendations in Stravinsky’s and an unidentified hand. Hollywood, June 24, 1954. Written on Stravinsky’s personal stationery to his agent and legal advisor Arnold Weissberger (1907-1981).

Stravinsky photo

Igor Stravinsky

“I am writing you today regarding the renewal of my recording contract with Columbia. The contract was signed for 2 years on August 24, 1951, and therefore now it does not have more than 2 months to run. I have mentioned this matter of renewal to David Oppenheim last winter. He said there was nothing doubtful about it and as far as Columbia was concerned it was purely a routine affair. But since then the matter has not been mentioned again and I do not want – by taking the initiative myself – to give Columbia the feeling that I am more anxious than they are to renew the deal. Moreover you have discussed and made the original contract with them, you have also made the “film” contract with them last winter, thus it will be most natural if you take the initiative this time and – 2 months before expiration – contact them about the matter of a new contract for another similar period, or maybe even 5 years. I assume you have kept copies of the contract and its 2 supplementary agreements (one re: my royalties on the RAKE’S PROGRESS recordings; the other re: the analytical notes on compositions recorded which have to be submitted to my approval – by the way this last clause should be made part of a new contract). If you do not have all these documents I will mail them to you. The point to bear in mind is that the 1951 contract was made specifically to cover the recordings of the following works:






All these works have since been recorded with the exception of PERSEPHONE, and I must say PERSEPHONE happened to remain unrecorded not by lack of good will on Columbia’s part but truly because it has not been possible yet to concentrate the artistical [sic.], musical, and technical means to do it. On the other hand, works have been recorded which were not in the 1951 contract (and for which, incidentally, no contract has ever been made. It might be a good thing to make the terms of the new or the old contract apply to them). These “extra” works recorded are:






Now, the only released works so far have been:




I assume that SYMPHONY IN C and CANTATA are scheduled for release (on both sides of one record) in October 1954. To make things more clear I am enclosing a schedule of the works recorded with mention of those released and those covered by the 1951 contract. I think it would be a good idea for my safeguard to keep the clause by which they are obligated to release the recorded works within 6 months, or at least within a certain time-limit. I have not claimed enforcement of this clause in the case of SYMPHONIES OF WIND INSTRUMENTS, SYMPHONY IN C, CANTATA, because I know we have to record the right thing to put on the other side of the record. But I do not want them to feel free to delay the release indefinitely according to their whim. In the light of the past experience, I do not know what your feeling will be and whether you will think – as I do – that we should make the new contract “at large” (i.e. without mentioning any titles). But maybe it is safer to list the tiles because the present management at Columbia may change and my position vis a vis another team will be somewhat different from what it is now. For your information I am also enclosing a list of my works which could be recorded under any new contract. And now, I hand all this over to you…. With best greetings, Cordially…”

[There follows a two-page typed with a five-word addendum in Stravinsky’s hand:]




Works                                                                                       Approximate duration

PERSEPHONE                                                                                     45 minutes

LE CHANT DU ROSSIGNOL                                                             20

LE ROSSIGNOL (opera)                                                                    45

MAVRA                                                                                                  22

PETROUCHKA (full ballet) New Version                                     43

BAISER DE LA FEE (full ballet)                                                     43

DIVERTIMENTO, Suite from Baiser de la Fee,                           23

4 ETUDES POUR ORCHESTRE                                                     12

BABEL CANTATA                                                                              5

2 PETITES SUITES                                                                          12

LES NOCES                                                                                        23

RENARD                                                                                             16

CONCERTINO FOR 12 INSTRUMENTS                                    12

TANGO                                                                                               4

RAGTIME FOR 11 INSTRUMENTS                                            4

TCHAIKOVSKY’S PAS DE DEUX (My orchestration for small orchestra) 8

3 SONGS FROM SHAKESPEARE                                              7

IN MEMORIAM (Dillon Thomas)Sept 20th Bob Craft Evenings on the Roof  8

2 RUSSIAN SONGS                                                                        3½ 

JAPANESE SONGS                                                                        4

PRIBAOUTKI                                                                                  5

BERCEUSES DU CHAT                                                                4

SOUVENIRS DE MON ENFANCE                                              5

4 RUSSIAN CHORUSES a capella for female voices              4


Plus, eventually, any future new works which may be composed. New Ballet for City Center, instead of Rosignol late ’55.




Titles                             whether covered by 1951 contract or not   whether already released or not

OEDIPUS REX                                                           contract               released

SYMPHONIES OF WIND INSTRUMENTS        contract             not released         

SYMPHONIES IN C                                                   contract               not released

PULCINELLA                                                             no contract           released

CANTATA                                                                   no contract           not released

THE RAKE’S PROGRESS                                       contract               released

SEPTET 1953                                                             no contract           not released

OCTET                                                                        no contract           not released

HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT                                          no contract           not released         


Septet}   One side 



Wind Instruments} Other side



In 1939, after living in Switzerland and France, Stravinsky moved to the United States. “Once he had settled in Hollywood Stravinsky was inevitably approached with suggestions that he should write music for films [including a few Columbia Pictures films]. Some of these projects were so fatuous they were dismissed at once; but others engaged his interest, and in a few cases he had begun to compose music before they were abandoned. Fortunately he was able to salvage a considerable part of this abortive film music and use it again in such works as Four Norwegian Moods (1942), the Ode (1943), the Scherzo à la russe (1944) and the Symphony in Three Movements (1942-5),” (The New Grove Dictionary).

During the 1950s, Stravinsky toured internationally as a conductor of his own works and signed a contract with Columbia Records to conduct and record all his compositions. Among these was Pulcinella, the ballet based on musical fragments from Pergolesi, whose completion in 1920 marked “a major turning‑point in both the life and the art of Stravinsky,” (Stravinsky, Boucourechliev). As he himself would later recall, “‘Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible. It was a backward look, of course… but it was a look in the mirror, too,’” (ibid.). Our detailed letter lists Pulcinella as well as Stravinsky’s many other compositions.

Docketed with a date stamp in the upper right corner of the first page. Several staple holes in the upper left corner. Folded and in fine condition.

TLS Mapping Out His Future with CBS Records

$2040 net • item #22684

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