[Rosenthal, Manuel. (1904–2003)] [Ravel, Maurice. (1875–1937)] Auric, Georges. (1899–1983) & Ghelderode, Michel de. (1892–1962) & Lévi-Strauss, Claude. (1908–2009) & Nystroem, Gösta. (1890–1966) & Sauguet, Henri. (1901–1989)
Collection of Letters to Manuel Rosenthal
An important collection of 21 letters addressed to the third and final student of Ravel, Maurice Rosenthal, composer and one of the most influential and respected French conductors of the 20th century. All in French, details and translations as follows:
Auric, Georges (1899–1983), French composer, member of Les Six. 3 ALS:
1. [Paris,] dated "Saturday night." 1 p. On letterhead paper with Auric's address. Auric thanks Rosenthal for "miraculously rejuvenating" his "poor old Volponé." "It was impossible for me to review these hastily written pages whose weaknesses you have been able to fathom." He includes a check with his letter to pay Rosenthal for his service. 8.25 x 5.25 inches (21 x 13.5 cm). In very good condition. As there is no work by Auric with that title, Volponé, it remains unclear what work the letter refers to.
2. [Paris,] dated "Wednesday morning." 1 p. On letterhead paper with Auric's address. Auric comments on a broadcast performance of Rosenthal's Saint François d'Assise that he listened to with great pleasure. "It seems to me as if the work had grown with age. It moved me deeply." 8.25 x 5.25 inches (21 x 13.5 cm). In very good condition. Saint François d'Assise was composed in 1936–39.
3. Paris, no date [after 1972]. 1 p. Sender's address in manuscript to head, with post-1972 postal code. Auric congratulates Rosenthal on a new work whose score Rosenthal had sent him. "It is a beautiful work (which would have fascinated Maurice Ravel) and that surprised me by some renewal of your inspiration. Just reading [the score] proves the stupidity and boorishness of the 'princes' (!) on our current radio." 8.25 x 5.25 inches (21 x 13.5 cm). In very good condition. The work discussed here is probably Le temple de mémoire (1975) for mezzo-soprano or baritone and orchestra, which is Rosenthal's only substantive composition from after 1972.
Caby, Robert (1905–1992), French composer and writer. ALS, Paris, October 12, 1975. On Caby's letterhead paper. "The other night, I have heard the work you wrote in memory of Ravel. / Do I Have to tell you that I was not surprised by the [illegible] of the reviews? For of course you do not belong with the band of masters who make the laws in music they like to call 'contemporary' in order to [illegible] it completely. I was sure that your work has no weight in the eyes of these gentlemen compared to the ingenious creations of Messrs. Stockhausen and ersatz and Co. and of poor John Cage." He goes on to praise Rosenthal's work and its orchestration in particular. 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.5 x 20.8 cm). In fine condition. The composition by Rosenthal discussed here is probably Le temple de mémoire, first performed a few days before (see also Yvonne Gouverné's letter, below). Caby was Erik Satie's executor. He is best known for his editions of Satie's unpublished works. His own music has been rarely performed.
Cassou, Jean (1897–1986), French writer, poet, and art critic. 3 ALS:
1. Paris, September 27, 1975. 2 pp. Appreciative comment on an unidentified composition by Rosenthal on a text by Cassou. "I was particularly satisfied by seeing myself set to music by a great artist, and I admired and still admire his heart and talent. And my joy will be... confirmed because I will hear us. Attached please find my form for SACEM." 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.7 x 21 cm). Slightly browned along folds, otherwise in good condition. SACEM (Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique is a French professional association collecting payments of artists’ rights and distributing the rights to the original composers, authors of texts, set to music, and music publishers.
2. Geneva, August 17 [no year; postmark illegible]. 1 p. Aerogram-style stationery of Hôtel-Pension Lamartine, Geneva (outside with photograph of Geneva at night). Cassou appreciates a program for an evening that Rosenthal sent him and writes about his travel plans.
3. Paris, "21st"; no month or year. 2 pp. Letterhead paper of Musées nationaux – Musée d'Art moderne, Paris. Cassou thanks Rosenthal for a teller and agrees to visit an exhibition of the Romanian sculptor Irène Codreano (1896-1985), "who is a woman of heart and talent." He complains about yet undiagnosed, ongoing medical problems and mentions a neurologist named Dr. David. 8.25 x 5.25 inches (21 x 13.5 cm). In fine condition. Cassou was the director of the French National Museum of Modern Art from 1945 to 1965.
"Chip" (signature; actual name unknown). ALS, Paris, January 11, 1981. 2 pp. Congratulates Rosenthal on the receipt of the Prix Ravel. 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.7 x 21 cm). In very good condition. The author uses the familiar "tu" and must have been a close acquaintance of Rosenthal.
Ciry, Michel (1919–2018), French painter, engraver, writer and composer. La Bergerce [?], Varengeville-sur-mer, June 28, 1992. 2 pp. Ciry attempts to revive their former friendship after a long lapse (and possibly fallout). He encloses a recently published edition of one of his diaries (from "a period during which music was central to my life as a creative artist") with his letter. 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.7 x 21 cm). In very good condition. Ciry's enclosed diary is either La vie est une ombre, 1945-1952, or Pour l'amour de vous, 1953-1956, both published in 1992; Ciry stopped composing in 1958.
Gallimard, Simone (1917–1995), French editor and publisher (Mercure de France). Paris, December 7, 1992. 1 p. Stationery of Mercure de France. "I would like to tell you how much I am please by the notes of esteem and appreciation that are addressed to you at this time. Your admirers will never be too numerous." 8.25 x 6 inches (21 x 15 cm). In fine condition. The publisher Mercure de France had issued the biography by Dominique Saudinos, Manuel Rosenthal: Une vie earlier that year.
Ghelderode, Michel de (1892–1962), Belgian writer. ALS, Brussels, March 21, 1957. 4 pp. Pink bifolium. Ghelderode responds to a letter from Rosenthal, who had written an opera based on Ghelderode's drama Hop Signor! Questions of copyright are discussed. "The difficulty of this affair is tied to the fact that our play [written in 1936] existed before the score [written from 1857 to 1961] and does not constitute a text specifically written for the musician... Consequently, the play cannot be ceded to the music publisher, except conditionally and by courtesy. It is up to Gallimard [Ghelderode's publisher] to do that—but I cannot do it by myself!" 6.75 x 6.25 inches (17 x 16 cm). In fine condition.
Ghelderode, Jeanne-Françoise (1894–1980), wife of Michel de Ghelderode. ALS, Brussels, January 15, 1965. 2 pp. (first and third page of bifolium). Ghelderode responds to a latter from Rosenthal announcing performances of Hop Signor! at the Opéra comique in Paris. "I am glad to see the name of my late Michel on the poster alongside yours. Also, I expect to come to Paris on February 2 if my health remains as it is." She asks for three seats for herself and two friends (husband and wife) from Brussels. 8.25 x 6 inches (21 x 15.3 cm). In fine condition.
Gouverné, Yvonne (1890–1982), French pianist and choral conductor. ALS, no place, October 7, 1976. 2 pp. Gouverné congratulates Rosenthal on a performance of his Le temple de mémoire, conducted by the composer, that she attended, and enthusiastically muses about its meaning. "You bring us, in your 'Temple de mémoire,' the confirmation that death does not tear apart the bond that unites us with certain beings of the spiritual world." 8.25 x 5.75 inches (21 x 14.7 cm). In fine condition. Le temple de mémoire, composed for mezzo-soprano or baritone and orchestra in 1975, turned out to be Rosenthal's last musical work.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1908–2009), French anthropologist and ethnologist. ALS, Paris, April 4, 1995. 1 p. Card with letterhead of Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale. "It touches me very much that you have preserved your recollection of an encounter long ago. I thank you for having sent me and kindly inscribed to me [a copy of] your Ravel. I am a naïve listener but an ardent Ravelian all the same." 4.25 x 6 inches (11 x 15.5 cm). In fine condition. Lévi-Strauss refers to Rosenthal's book Ravel: souvenirs de Manuel Rosenthal (Paris, 1995).
Mallet, Robert (1915–2002), French writer. ALS, Paris, February 9, 1956. 2 pp. "I learned from Zizia that you must have talked about my book Une mort ambigüe at L'Arlequin, but I do not doubt the warmth of your words! As I hear you, I was almost ashamed! What a joy to be appreciated in public (how can one escape from this additional pleasure?) by someone who is admired and whose spontaneity cannot be fail! Yes, really, your compliments are more precious to me than those of the professional critics!" 10.75 & 8. 25 inches (29.5 x 21 cm). Frayed to left edge, otherwise in very good condition. The identity of "Zizia" is unknown.
Nystroem, Gösta (1890–1966), Swedish composer. ALS, Marstrand, Sweden, January 1, 1951. 2 pp. On letterhead paper. "It satisfies me to hear that your life in the U.S. is happy and that you have found the means to devote yourself to music there as you please. And I thank you very much for your kind intention to perform my music in Paris... Among my recent works, I would prefer my latest symphony 'La Sinfonia del Mare' to be presented in Paris." He explains how to procure the score through his publisher and expresses his desire to visit France again soon. 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29.5 x 21 cm). Punch holes to left margin; frayed to edges. Sinfonia del Mare, the fourth of Nystroem's six symphonies, is his best-known work. The composer was a Francophile throughout his life.
Sauguet, Henri (1901–1989), French composer. 4 letters.
1. ALS, Paris, October 1, 1976. 2 pp. Congratulates Rosenthal on the recent performance of his new (and final) work La temple de mémoire. "I often found myself amazed, surprised, lost, picked up again, seduced, moved and finally captured..." Oblong format, 5.75 x 8.25 inches (15 x 21 cm). In fine condition.
2. ALS, Paris, October 19, 1977, 2 pp. (2 leaves). Thanks Rosenthal for a performance of Sauguet's ballet Mirages (1943). 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.7 x 21 cm). In very good condition.
3. ALS, [Paris,] May 11, 1979, 6 pp. (6 leaves). Written in connection with Rosenthal's acceptance to the French Legion of Honor. Recapitulates and assesses Rosenthal's artistic biography and discusses many of his works. 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.7 x 21 cm). In fine condition.
4. TLS with autograph corrections. No place, September 1980. 2 pp. (2 leaves). No salutation. Written on behalf of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques and on the occasion of awarding the society's Grand Prix de la Musique for 1980 to Rosenthal, whose lifetime achievement is recapitulated and assessed in the letter. "You are a complete musician, a creator and performer. Your place in French music history fits between the generation of Maurice Ravel, one of whose rare students you were, and that of the new musicians of the time after the war from 1914 to 1918, whose friend, defender and champion you were." 11.75 x 8.25 inches (29.7 x 21 cm). In very good condition. Apparently conceived for publication in print as an open letter.
Jolam Manuel [?]. ALS, Nemours, France, April 26, 1940. 2 pp. Written in a tongue-in-cheek style, obviously by a close friend of Rosenthal who himself identifies as a composer: "I am trying to compose three nocturnes for piano with the general title Les Nuits blanches." A performance of Rosenthal's Petits métiers on May 1 to be broadcast is mentioned. The author's signature is preceded by "Ton vieux frère" (your old brother), but Rosenthal had no biological brothers. "PAX" (peace), with the letter A extended to form a Christian cross, to left head. 8.5 x 5.5 inches (21.3 x 13.8 cm). Browned; otherwise in good condition.
The French composer and conductor held leading positions with musical organizations in France and America. He was friends with many of his contemporary composers, and despite a considerable list of compositions is mostly remembered for having created the popular ballet score Gaîté Parisienne and left a varied legacy of recordings. Rosenthal's ties with many French composers, and especially with Maurice Ravel, gave him an unrivalled authority in the contemporary French repertory. "In 1926, Ravel invited him to bring him some of his compositions. From being one of Ravel's rare pupils, Rosenthal soon became a friend, and he left moving tributes to the maître in articles and interviews, as well as the book Ravel: Souvenirs De Manuel Rosenthal (1995). Rosenthal tried to emulate Ravel's example of perfectionism, with memories of many a laboriously completed exercise torn up and dropped in Ravel's waste-paper basket.
It was Ravel who decided Rosenthal's future as a conductor. In 1928 he persuaded the Concerts Pasdeloup to devote a concert to Rosenthal's works and to engage him to conduct it. Never having been on a rostrum before, Rosenthal was terrified, but among those impressed was the celebrated conductor Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht; when he founded the French National Orchestra in 1934, he took on Rosenthal as his assistant." (Roger Nichols, The Guardian, "Manuel Rosenthal: Obituary," June 8, 2003).