[Brahms, Johannes. (1833–1897)] Barrymore, Lionel. (1878–1954)
Signed Letter with Rare Photograph of Brahms in Austria
Typed letter signed by actor Lionel Barrymore to pianist Gustave Becker, incorrectly addressing him as "Professor Decker" and complimenting him on a recent performance as part of the radio program Life Begins at 80. April 8, 1949. Barrymore writes, in part, "Just a short note to express my great appreciation for your two splendid piano renditions last Sunday evening...As you may know, I am a music lover and since one of your selections was by Brahms, I thought you might enjoy having the enclosed snap of the Composer taken in 1844 [sic]." Horizontal mailing fold, else in fine condition. 6 x 7.75 inches (15.2 x 19.7 cm.). Together with a photocopy of a profile on Becker from the February 4, 1940 Sunday Journal-Herald entitled "Gustave L. Becker: Pianist and Composer Who Knew Brahms." From the collection of the grandson of Gustave L. Becker (1861–1959).
Together with the mentioned photograph, a rare image of Brahms on holiday in Unterach am Attersee with fellow composer and friend Ignaz Brüll. "Brahms und Brüll / 10.9.1894 / Unterach am Attersee" has been written in pen to verso, probably by Robert Hupka who is identified as the printer (photograph likely taken by his father) within the negative lower right, also giving the date of printing as 1946. Born in Vienna, Hupka was the grandson of Ignaz Brüll and emigrated to the U.S. at the onset of World War II to escape the Nazi persecution which took his parents' lives. Later, he was a recording engineer for RCA Victor and for Columbia Records and, until his retirement, a cameraman for CBS Television in New York. In very fine condition. 3.25 x 4.5 inches (8.2 x 11.4 cm.).
Barrymore won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1931 film A Free Soul and is best remembered for his role as Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).
Brahms’ symphonies were often first heard in two-piano arrangements with Brahms and Brüll at the keyboards. Brüll was a Moravian-born pianist and composer who lived and worked in Vienna; his works were later banned by the Nazis because of his Jewish origins but have been revived and recorded in recent years.