Text Box: HARMONIE AUTOGRAPHS AND MUSIC INC.

MUSIC AUTOGRAPHS & ANTIQUARIAN

Price: $2500.00

FINE CONDITION

Text Box: MUSIC AUTOGRAPHS AND EPHEMERA BOUGHT AND SOLD

Sensational and early autographed and inscribed 5.75” x 7.5” (inclusive of the mat) salt print presentation photograph of the French composer in his room at the Villa Medici, Rome, 1865.  The photograph is dedicated to the French painter, Benjamin Ulmann, ŕ cher ami Ulmann, Souvenir de bonne amitie, Rome, 1865.

Massenet (1842-1912) won the Prix de Rome for music in 1863.  His mentor and composition professor, Ambroise Thomas told him that Hector Berlioz, a judge that year, was responsible for his win.  He arrived in Rome in late January of 1864 and ordered a piano for his room, which he piled with scores and manuscript paper.  Massenet kept in close contact via the mail with Thomas, who also was the Director of the Conservatoire.  He remarked to Thomas in August of 1864 that he had not touched his music paper.  Truth be told he had been travelling around Italy and described it as a “divine Country”. (Massenet, A Chronicle of his Life and Times; Demar Irvine, Amadeus Press, 1994, p. 34) By December, he had buckled down and was beginning to compose his first works there, a requiem, an overture, were written by August of 1865 and were delivered to Thomas for his criticism in Paris by the painter, Benjamin Ulmann, the 1859 Prix de Rome winner who had just completed his 5 year tour there.  Musicians typically spent their five year award with two years in Rome, a year in Germany and two years in Paris; painters spent the entire five years in Rome.  Massenet would meet Liszt in Rome in 1864 and take on some of Liszt’s overflow of pupils.  Most were from wealthy parents and included Massenet’s future wife, Ninon.

Benjamin Ulmann (1828-1884) was a Alsatian-Jewish painter and a student of Michel Martin Drolling.  After winning the Prix de Rome in 1859, he spent 5 years in Rome and returned to Paris where he spent his career as a well commissioned academic painter known for his large scale biblical paintings. He presented at this first Paris salon in 1859 and won third place.  He married Eulalie Dreyfuss (1846-1919) part of the well known Alsatian-Jewish Dreyfus family of which Alfred Dreyfus was a member.   Ulmann was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in 1872 and died in 1884 at the age of 56.  His paintings are well collected today.

This piece represents one of the earliest autographed photographs of Massenet to reach the dealer marketplace. (He was 23 years of age at the time this photograph was signed.) While this photograph is not completely unknown, it is not featured in his autobiography, nor in any of the significant biographies of the important French Romantic composer. Further, the dedication is important and the friendship with his fellow Prix de Rome winner, Benjamin Ulmann is well documented.

The general condition of the photograph is quite remarkable, a tad light but also quite immediate.  There is one scuff mid level to the left which is not atypical of the development process of salt print photographs, which was not an exact science.  A most historical and significant Massenet autographed image!

           JULES MASSENET - COMPOSER
Text Box: Composer autographs

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