Skip to main content

TLS on His Music & Promoting Aaron Copland & Roy Harris

$260 net
Item: 23004
Add to Wishlist

SCHUMAN, WILLIAM. (1910-1992). Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer, pedagogue and president of the Julliard School and Lincoln Center. TLS. (“William Schuman”). 1½pp. Large 8vo. New York, February 14, 1940. On his personal stationery. To Mr. de Greiff (likely Colombian musicologist OTTO DE GREIFF, 1903-1995).

“Your letter of December tenth last has given me a great deal of pleasure. You must excuse my bad manners in waiting so long to thank you.

It is of interest to me that you are concerned with the movement of modern American music. In our own country we are faced with an appalling apathy on the part of the press and public alike. It is very difficult to get performances-much less publications and recordings. The Chorale Etude, of which you write, is not one of the works I consider my best. However, since it won some prize sponsored in part by Columbia Records it was recorded. The music itself is published by Carl Fischer while other published works are with G. Schirmer also of this city.

Do you know the recordings of Roy Harris and Aaron Copland – two outstanding American composers? I am certain their music would interest you.

Perhaps you will listen on the radio over the Columbia Broadcasting System on March 23. My new String Quartet (No. III) will be broadcast from here with a short wave broadcast to South America also.

Should you hear the work I would be most anxious to know.

My best greetings and thanks to you… [in holograph] In haste

Photo of William Schuman

William Schuman

Trained in Paris, Aaron Copland (1900-1991) was the first American to study with noted French composer, Nadia Boulanger. Though strongly influenced by the works of Igor Stravinsky, Copland’s compositions, which include Rodeo, Billy the Kid, Appalachian Spring and A Lincoln Portrait, are revered for their distinctly American theme and flavor.

It was Copland who recommended that self-taught American composer Roy Harris (1898-1979) study in Paris under Boulanger. Harris’ Symphony ‘1933’ was the first commercially recorded American symphony and his fame was secured by the 1939 performance of his Symphony No. 3 under Serge Koussevitsky. He continued to compose while holding a series of teaching positions at such prestigious institutions as Mills College and Julliard.

Schuman studied privately with Harris, who introduced him to Koussevitzky who became a proponent of his works. At the time of our letter Schuman was teaching composition at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, while enjoying a fruitful period of composition supported by Copland, Harris and Koussevitzky. Koussevitsky conducted his Symphony No. 2 in 1939 and commissioned his Symphony for Strings, which debuted in 1943, the same year that Schuman won the first Pulitzer Prize for Music. Our letter discusses his Chorale Etude, composed in 1937, and his String Quartet No. 3, composed in 1939. In addition to his large compositional output, Schuman later became president of Lincoln Center and Julliard, where he founded the Julliard String Quartet. His support of American music was recognized with a special Pulitzer awarded in 1985 for “more than half a century of contribution to American music as composer and educational leader.”

While working as a math professor and administrator at the National University of Bogota, de Greiff penned a column about music in El Tiempo and, after helping to establish a national radio station, broadcast on musical matters over the airwaves. In addition to authoring several musicological works, including two works on Beethoven and an illustrated history of music, de Greiff wrote poetry and translated poetry by other authors into Spanish.

Folded with two paperclip impressions in the left margin. In very fine condition. Uncommon with content and from such an early date.

TLS on His Music & Promoting Aaron Copland & Roy Harris

$260 net • item #23004

    Just this once...
    Please share your name and email address to receive:

      We will not share your contact info