DVOŘÁK (ANTONÍN)
Lot 140
DVOŘÁK (ANTONÍN)
Sold for £1,560 (US$ 2,503) inc. premium

Lot Details
DVOŘÁK (ANTONÍN)
Autograph letter signed ("Antonín Dvořák"), to "My Daer Mr Littleton", in English, thanking him for his money and enclosing the indenture that he has signed, and giving news of his forthcoming visit to England ("...I am not decided if I will come to England in April or May, but certainly on 22 April or 6 May when I will conduct my new Symphony in St James Hall, during this time I am willing to conduct the 'Hymms'..."), and ending with the statement that "I have written this letter in ¾ hour!!!", 2 pages, paper watermarked 'Original Old Style paper' and 'SR' within a 'Trade Mark' shield, pin-hole at head, light dust-staining, 8vo, early 1885

Footnotes

  • "I WILL CONDUCT MY NEW SYMPHONY IN ST JAMES HALL": DVOŘÁK PREPARES FOR THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF PROBABLY HIS GREATEST SYMPHONY, which as this letter anticipates was indeed to take place at the St James's Hall on 22 April 1885. His "Daer Mr Littleton" played an important part in the rise of Dvořák's international reputation: "Although, thanks to the recommendations of Brahms, Dvořák began to have some small recognition outside Bohemia by 1876, it was his subsequent popularity in Great Britain which was to establish him as an international composer and brought him his later invitation to America. This came about through nine visits between 1884 and 1896, supported by special relationships with Henry and Alfred Littleton of the firm of Novello, Ewer & Co., as well the (Royal) Philharmonic Society... From the outset Dvořák was a popular figure in Britain, and thereafter he always felt a great warmth for English audiences. After his first visit he wrote of his astonishing reception and said: 'The English are a good, cordial and music-loving nation, and it is well known that if they are fond of anyone they remain loyal to him. May God grant that this should happen in my case too' (Kuna, 1.400). The modest Dvořák remained amazed at his popularity in England. After the first performance of St Ludmila he wrote: 'I confess that I have never seen the artists around me on the platform as well as the audience in such a state of enthusiasm'" (Graham Melville-Mason, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). In the analysis of Jan Smaczny: "Vital to his burgeoning career was his success with British audiences in the 1880s. They took, in particular, to his Stabat mater, and Elgar was enthusiastic about his Sixth Symphony. Requests from the major choral festivals of Birmingham and Leeds prompted cantata, oratorio, and a Requiem Mass, but perhaps the most significant commission came from the venerable Philharmonic Society of London for a symphony. The resulting Seventh Symphony is widely regarded as his greatest symphonic work" (1001 Classical Recordings, edited by Matthew Rye, 2007, p.429).

    Not the least remarkable aspect of this letter is that Dvořák devoted three-quarters of an hour of his precious time to writing it.

    Provenance: from the music collection of the late Michael Hurd.
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