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Lot 24A: Fine Autograph Letter by Spanish Musician Pablo Casals About Cellos
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: “…keeping in mind that the demand for cellos is much lower than that for violins” ********** CASALS, PABLO. (1876-1973). Spanish cellist, conductor and composer. ALS. (“Pablo”). 3pp. 8vo. New York City, January 30, 1928. To “My dear Alexander,” the influential Russian pianist, composer and teacher ALEXANDER SILOTI (1863-1945). In French with translation. ********** “I am sorry you could not come and visit me with Vera. I am leaving tomorrow and don’t know if upon my return in two or three days I will have time to go to Fischer’s. Since he asked me for a date for a meeting, I told him that it was very likely that I could not see him before February 26. In any case, it is very important that I know what they have in mind, because if the thing is really not worth the trouble, it will be better not to continue the discussions. What I would like for you to ask them is this: 1 What is the percentage added to the price of each cello? 2 How many cellos do they think they can sell, based on their experience with the sale of violins, and of course keeping in mind that the demand for cellos is much lower than that for violins. I send you and the whole sweet nestful my love…” ********** Trained in the violin by his father, Casals became devoted to the cello upon first hearing it at the age of 11. After being discovered by Spanish composer and pianist Isaac Albéniz while playing in a cafe, Casals received a stipend to study at the Madrid Royal Conservatory. During the early years of the 20th century, he performed in Paris, London, and throughout the Americas. In 1914, Casals married American mezzo soprano Susan Metcalfe, with whom he often performed, but the pair split in 1928, the year of our letter. Casals gained an international reputation and toured extensively until the threat of execution by Spain’s Franco regime led to his exile. “Never a flamboyant performer, he sought tirelessly in practice and rehearsal for the truth and beauty he felt to be an artist’s responsibility, and used his formidable powers with a simplicity and concentration that allowed no compromise. His artistry led to a new appreciation of the cello and its repertory,” (New Grove Dictionary). After his exile, Casals performed occasionally including in support of the United Nations and as part of a peace campaign that he launched himself. ********** Siloti was a student of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Nikolai Rubinstein and Franz Liszt and became an influential instructor at the Moscow Conservatory where Sergei Rachmaninoff was one of his students. His wife Vera Pavlovna Siloti (née Tretyakova, 1866-1940) was herself a pianist and daughter of the wealthy art collector and philanthropist, Pavel Tretyakov. As head of the Moscow Philharmonic, Siloti conducted performances by world renowned composers and performers including Casals. After the 1917 revolution, Siloti fled his homeland, settled in New York City in 1921 and taught at Julliard from 1925-1942. ********** Siloti aided Casals’ career by giving him important performance opportunities. “Casals had first performed in St. Petersburg in 1905, with the Maryinski orchestra under Siloti’s baton. Through Siloti, Casals met virtually every important figure in Russian music. In the concert series of which Siloti had been music director, Casals had played with Rachmaninoff and with Siloti himself,” (Pianist: A Biography of Eugene Istomin, Gollin). ********** Our letter likely refers to New York’s Carl Fischer Music, which, before entering into the field of music publishing, sold musical instruments from Europe, the importation of which was later curtailed by World War II. Casals famously preferred a cello, acquired in 1913, reputed to have been made by Bolognese luthier Carlo Tononi around 1700 but which was later attributed to Venetian luthier Matteo Goffriller. ********** Penned on a folded sheet of deckle-edged paper. Folded once and in very good condition. Uncommon when mentioning the cello.