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EDOUARD RISLER - PIANIST
We offer an archive of 20 autographed letters on picture postcards by the legendary pianist Edouard Risler, to his friend the violinist Gustave Fridrich, while travelling the World on tour. We also offer with the letters, three photographs, one an albumen portrait of the pianist, the other two are a postcard in action seated at an upright piano and a portrait.
Risler and Fridrich became close friends at the Paris Conservatoire. Both the pianist and violinist were the French contingent to the Bayreuth Festival in 1896, where Risler was the répétiteur pianist and Fridrich a first violinist in the Festival Orchestra. The archive consists of a series of 20 letters to Fridrich while Risler was on tour over the years, some of the postcards are pleasantries and stories about his travels, while others describe musical matters.
A listing of the cards is as follows, dates are included where postmarks are decipherable:
1. Amiens: 1901, a long letter regarding his travels and train plans. Postcard showing the town of Amiens and a postmark from Amiens. Signed Ed Risler.
2. Malesherbes: 1901, a long letter on a Russian postcard featuring the Kremlin. Mentions the opera "Tristan und Isolde" and understanding "the affaire" and "Breslau" and signing Ed. Risler, and underneath (The Presse).
3. Gerardmer a Laveline: August 31, 1904, mentions swim suits, a rapid trip to Paris and La Baule. Signed Ed & Mile (His wife Emilie Girette)
4. Malesherbes: September 22, 1904, Risler writes to his friend, violinist Gustave Fridrichs about his travel plan to be in Paris again and then on Tuesday, he will depart for Munich where he will stay at the Bayrischer Hof and that he will play the Dukas Sonata.
5. Besse sur Braye: October 18, 1904, Risler mentions a trip to Munich and a conductor for "Tristan und Isolde". There was a premier performance on December 14, 1904 which was conducted by Charles Lamoreaux and there is correspondence at the involved both Risler and Fridrich suggesting Alfred Cortot for the second performance, as he was Bayreuth trained by Cosima Wagner.
6. St. Lunaire: July 23, 1907, Risler mentions a Beethoven cycle to be played in the seaside resort of La Baule (Brittany) at "Villa Ravel". As Ravel never owned property until 1921 and he was known to inhabit the French Southern coastal town of St. Jean-de-Luz, this must have been a short term Summer rental. Signed Ed Risler.
7. St. Tropez: September 27, 1910, Risler says he will be in Paris on the 18th of October to play the Sonata by Vincent D'Indy. He claims op. 50, but the one published sonata for piano is op. 63. Signed Ed. R.
8. Torino: 1911, Risler talks about the superb sun and that he next heads to Florence and gives his hotel there, the Hotel Italy. Signed Ed.
9. Dublin: January 13, 1913, Risler sends a quick note saying he was in Cannes in December. Signed Ed.
10. Valencia: April 25, 1913, Risler mentions he is going to make a detour to Barcelona. Sent from the Palace Hotel in Valencia. Signed Ed.
11. Vichy: 1913, Risler mentions he arrived in Vichy from Paris and he will be staying at the Thermal Palace. Signed Ed Risler. Today it is known as the Aletti Palace.
12. Milan, July 25, 1916, Telling Fridrichs of his upcoming trip to Monte Carlo where he will be staying at the Hotel de Paris. He mentions he is planning a trip to Rome on the 2nd of January.
13. Chalon sur Saone: 1922, Risler writes about the "Rossoti affaire". Signed Ed.
14. Lyon: no date, Risler writes a long letter with his travel plans, including Monte Carlo, Duisburg, Cote d'Agnes and a voyage to Italy. Signed Ed Risler.
15. Rio de Janeiro: no date, mentions the coastal city of Victoria in Brazil. Signed Ed Risler.
16. Rio de Janeiro: not date, Risler says his first concert is this evening, the temperature is marvelous and Rio is sublime. Signed Ed.
17. Chartres: no date; Risler mentions his sister-in-law Elisabeth Girette and writes a long letter on the verso of the postcard. Signed Ed.
18. Chartres: no date; Risler writes Thanks for Beethoven and that Dukas played very well. Signed Ed.
19. Hendaye Plage, no date: Long letter on a postcard. Signed Ed Risler.
20. Mote Carlo, no date: Having an excellent vacation and describes a dinner and a tour for someone with the initials G.D. Signed Ed.
*The letters have not been translated as such, our notes are to give you the flavor of each letter.
Edouard Risler, (1873-1929) studied with the greats of his period; at the Conservatoire 1883-1890, Émile Descombes Louis Diémer, Théodore Dubois and Émile Descombes. He finished his instruction in Germany with Karl Klindworth, Eugen d'Albert and Bernhard Stavenhagen, all Liszt pupils. A true International star, the pianist was undaunted when it came to difficult situations, many he created for himself. He was the first to play the entire oeuvre of Frederic Chopin, the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven and the complete Well Tempered Clavier of Bach in a series of cycle concerts. Risler also premiered the Dukas piano sonata. An incredibly difficult work, it lasts for nearly an hour. Granados and Chabrier both dedicated works to him, which he premiered as well as a work by Reynaldo Hahn. Risler, a great fan of Richard Wagner's music was part of the French contingent to the Bayreuth Festspiele in 1896, where he was the répétiteur. Risler also made one of the first piano recordings in 1889 at the Paris Expo with the help of Edison’s Theo Wangemann. His other recordings, 18 in all were made for Pathé in 1917. Risler toured Continental Europe frequently, as well as Great Britain and South America. Interestingly we cannot find reference of the pianist concertizing in the United States. Artur Rubinstein states in his autobiography that he had “admiration” for the playing of D’Albert and Busoni, but “great love” for the playing of Risler.
Risler’s friend Gustave Fridrich, his correspondee in these letters was a freid of Risler’s since the Conservatoire days. He was a first desk violinist in the Bayreuth Festspiele Orchestra. He had been a long time first desk violinist at the Opera de Paris and in the Société de Concerts in Paris. Cosima Wagner was enamored with the duo of Risler and Fridrich and often invited them to play concerts for her friends at Wahnfried that Summer. Quite an honor considering she was Liszt’s daughter! In Alfred Lavignac’s book, A Voyage Artistique à Bayreuth, there is a photograph of the pair on page 531.
A wonderful for an archive, library, pianist researcher, or fan of Risler to be able to follow the hitherto unknown Risler! We are happy to provide scans to interested parties!