Schnabel, Artur. (1882–1951) & Schnabel, Therese, née Behr. (1876–1959)
Collection of Autograph Letters to Hans-Erich Riebensahm
Pair of rare autograph letters in German from the Austrian/American pianist and composer whose Schubert and Beethoven recordings have classical status and are still considered as beyond compare by many. To his friends Hans-Erich and Gerda Riebensahm in Berlin. The earlier letter, dated New York, 10 May 1950, congratulates Riebensahm on his appointment as a professor at the same school where he taught himself before 1933 (Akademische Hochschule für Musik, now part of the Berlin University of the Arts) and lauds him for performing the "32" (i.e. Beethoven's sonatas, which Schnabel was the first to record in their entirety) and "48" (i.e., Bach's Wohltemperiertes Clavier). Schnabel list the works he has composed since 1935 (three symphonies, a choral symphony, a piano trio and so on); one piano piece was enclosed with the letter (not part of this item). In a postscript, he sends his regards to Eduard Erdmann. The later letter, dated New York, 11 October 1950, mostly deals with health issues. 6 pages, 8vo, on headed paper of the Hotel Peter Stuyvesant, New York, with two playful stanzas of autograph verse based on the recipient's name and address on a separate sheet (undated).
Together with two autograph postcards to the Riebensahm family—one in Artur Schnabel's hand and postmarked Leningrad, 23 May 1935; the other in the hand of his wife, Therese Schnabel, with autograph signatures of Artur and their son Stefan added, probably from Biarritz, France, and undated. Uncommon. All four items from the collection of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Schnabel's teacher, Theodor Leschetizky, once told him: “You will never be a pianist. You are a musician.” Therese Schnabel, née Behr, was a celebrated contralto and vocal teacher; Peter Pears was among her students.
Hans-Erich Riebensahm (1906–1988) was a German pianist and student of Schnabel. From 1949 he taught at the Akademische Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He regularly accompanied German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925–2012) in his recitals. Gerda Riebensahm (d. 2003) was his wife. Eduard Erdmann (1896–1958) was also a pianist and composer and a fellow pioneer as a Schubert performer.