Typed Letter Signed by the Swiss-born, American composer of Schelomo and other 20th-century masterpieces

Signed by Ernest Bloch

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“I am a man of over 70… my forces are limited”

BLOCH, ERNEST. (1880-1959). Swiss-born, American composer of Schelomo and other 20th-century masterpieces. TLS. (“Ernest Bloch”). 1p. 4to. Agate Beach, Oregon, November 11, 1950. To pianist NINA MESIROW-MINCHIN (1892-1972).

Thank you so much for your kind letter and invitation, but I am afraid that I shall not be able to accept it, as there will be, apparently, a reception for me at Lyon & Healy in the afternoon, a dinner before the Service at the home of Rabbi Berman, and, probably I will be very tired after that, and will need to rest for a crowded schedule the next day. Do not forget that I am a man of over 70, and that my forces are limited, but I shall have a very great pleasure meeting you and your colleagues…”

After studying in Belgium and Germany, Bloch moved to the United States where he became the first composition teacher 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 led the San Francisco Conservatory until 1930. He returned to Switzerland, but in 1939 he accepted a music professorship at UC Berkeley. Bloch’s compositions, such as Three Jewish Tone Poems; Prelude and Psalms 114 and 137 for soprano and orchestra; Psalm 22 for baritone and orchestra; Israel: Symphony with voices; and Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra, represent his desire to integrate his Jewish identity with music composed for the concert hall rather than the temple.

In 1950, Samuel Laderman, a wealthy Chicago labor leader and music lover, along with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, organized a festival in honor of Bloch’s 70th birthday, referenced in our letter. The event was held from November 28 to December 3 at which time the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fine Arts Quartet – featuring Bloch at the piano – performed his String Quartet No. 2, Voice in the Wilderness for Cello and Piano, Three Short Pieces for Cello and Piano, and Sonata for Piano and Violin.

 

“The quality of Bloch’s output is, on the whole, high, particularly in the orchestral and chamber media… His firm beliefs in his own work and his faith in the spirituality of mankind make him a singular figure of 20th-century music,” (The New Grove Dictionary).

Bloch lived in Agate Beach, Oregon (whence our letter is written) from 1941 until his death. Lyon & Healy is a Chicago-based manufacturer of musical instruments, best known for their harps. Mesirow-Minchin performed with the Pro Musica Trio and the Woman’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago.

Folded with a very light paperclip impression in the top margin. Normal wear and in excellent condition.

Typed Letter Signed by the Swiss-born, American composer of Schelomo and other 20th-century masterpieces

Signed by Ernest Bloch


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