Hayes, Roland. (1887–1977) [Monteux, Pierre. (1875–1964)]
Two Typed Letters Signed to Monteux
Pair of TLS from the African-American lyric tenor to Doris Monteux, his friend and widow of the French conductor, both regarding a 1966 performance for the Pierre Monteux Memorial Foundation. Both letters written from Brookline, MA; 1 p. on personal stationary. Expected mailing folds, light toning, else fine. 7.25 x 10.5 inches (18.4 x 26.6 cm.). In the first letter (October 11, 1965) Hayes begins by expressing regret that he cannot take a more substantial role in the newly-established Foundation. In part, "I am so sorry that I cannot make a more vital and meaningful contribution to this great project than just service. But this I will do with all my heart for I owe much indeed to your beloved Pierre Monteux." He goes on to suggest possible dates the following summer and fall when he would be available and possible repertoire; "I could perform the aria I did some years go by Bach from his sacred Cantata- No. 160- for tenor; and a heavy aria by Mozart (a Concert aria: 'Per Pieta Non Recercate' for tenor and orchestra...There are two or three Aframerican religious folksongs I could do with orchestra or with just Boardman and myself," referencing Reginald Boardman (1916–1992), pianist and frequent Hayes accompanist. He discusses with great humor caring for his wife as she recovers from a ruptured disc, "I am 'chief cook and bottle washer' and believe me, I am on the job continually- for she does not want anyone else for the time being." He concludes by saying "My wife, Alzada, joins me in warm greetings and kind regards. / Always to be counted as a devoted friend," and has signed "Roland." Hayes has written his phone number in Brookline and what appears to be a contact number for Boardman in the left margin.
In the second letter (June 5, 1966), he writes first to thank Doris, saying in part "You have been most dear to remember me on my Birthday with this meaningful card...It added so much real Beauty to my day," then proceeding to ask for details of accommodation and transportation for his upcoming performance: "'Reggie' was in last week Thursday," again referencing Boardman, "and I asked him if you had spoken to him about accompaning [sic] me in a recital in Hancock, Maine in July. He said yes you had, but you had not given him any details...Well, the time is now beginning to creep upon us and I, too, am wondering what your latest plan is in respect to the recital date." It seems much is still unclear only six weeks or so before the performance, with Hayes even uncertain about "really what sort sort of a program you want me to give...the final date for the recital," and "who is to bear the expense." He asks for details about flights, stating unequivocally "I shall not be motoring to Hancock...Would you be so good as to tell in detail all that I need to know? I believe your date for me is July 17th? / Thank you, my dear friend, for the Beauty of your thought of me on my Birthday. / Ever with the warmth of true friendship," and has signed "Roland."
One of the first successful African-American classical musicians in the United States, Roland Hayes studied at Fisk University and began his concert career in 1916, paying $200 of his own money to rent Jordan Hall for his first recital, as he was unable to find a sponsor. After a very successful tour of Europe in 1921, he returned to the U.S. and became the first African-American soloist to perform with the Boston Symphony, on November 16, 1923. Monteux invited Hayes to sing after he was recommended by Judge Frederick P. Cabot, member of the BSO's board of trustees. "Said Monteux, 'I was simply enchanted with Mr. Hayes' voice, his erudition in matters pertaining to music and his charming manners. I was so enchanted by that lovely recital that I said, 'He must sing with the orchestra in Symphony Hall. He is an American, and I want him.'" (John Canarina: Pierre Monteux, Maitre, p. 71).
The great conductor Pierre Monteux was known for conducting the premiere of the Rite of Spring and for his tenures with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, and the San Francisco Symphony. Pierre and Doris Monteux met in 1922, during Monteux's time with the BSO. Though he was married (to his second wife, Germaine) and she had two children from a previous marriage, their attraction was immediate. They became a couple, although they could not marry until Germaine granted Monteux a divorce, and Monteux legally adopted Doris' children. They remained devoted to each other for the rest of their lives, frequently traveling together and together founding the Pierre Monteux School for conductors in Doris' native Maine.