VERY GOOD CONDITION
LAZARE-LÉVY - PIANIST
Early two page autographed letter signed on mourning stationary by the legendary French pianist and pedagogue likely to either Henri-Félicien Lemoine, or Léon Lemoine the publishers of his Méthode Supérieure pour piano, c. 1906/1907. The pianist provides and extraordinary list of names of most of the important pianists/piano professors working in France whom he thought would be receptive to this work. We offer with a period vintage postcard portrait.
The Professors who might be interested in my exercises. The abundant piano professors at the Conservatory. Messrs. Philipp, Staub, Pierne, Mrs. Long, Mr. Alfred Cortot. M'melles Alem-Chéné, Chappart, Mr. Falkenberg.
Paris: Mr. Louis Aubert 177 b'vard Periere,
M'lle Bailet, Professor at the Conservatory of Nice
M'lle Barry, 5 pl. de Ternes
Jean Batala 19 rue Turgot
Mrs Roger-Miclos-Battaille 27 avenue Mae-Mahon
Mrs. Bazelaine 181 rue de la Pompe
M'elle Boutet de Monvel 165 rue St. Honore
Mr. Braud 1 rue de Godot de Mauroy
M'elle Cortot 7 rue de la Filles-de-Calvaire
M'elle Debrie 4 rue Barge
Mr. De Flangny 25 rue de la Tour
Mrs. Fleury-Monchablon 13 rue Mugnard
Mrs. Giraud-Latarse 44 rue de Miromesnil
Mr. André Gresse 17 b'vard de la Madeleine
Mrs. Hedeman 106 avenue Villiers
Mr. De Lausnay 59 rue Boissiére
M'elle Blanche Selva 36 rue de Vannes
Mr. Kunc director of the Toulouse Conservatory
Mr. Joseph Thibaux professor at the Bordeaux Conservatory
Mr. Trillat professor at the Lyon Conservatory
Miss Carl .............................................. Nancy
Mr. Livon .............................................. Marseilles
Mr. Arcouët .......................................... Nantes
Mr. Emile Bosquet ............................... Brussels
Mr. Vianna da Motta director of Lisbon Conservatory
Believe me, dear sir, yours very truly
The eleven year old Lazare-Lévy (1882-1964) was discovered by a connected grande dame whilst he was playing Chopin brilliantly in his sister's hat shop in Paris. The following year, 1894 he became a pupil of Louis Díemer at the Paris Conservatoire and graduated with the first prize in piano performance in 1898. While he gave numerous recitals in public thereafter, he did not make his debut with orchestra until 1902. His debut with orchestra was the Schumann A minor concerto with Edouard Colonne at the Concerts Colonne. Camille Saint-Saëns greatly admired the pianist’s technique and keyboard poetry and purposefully sat in the front row at the concert in order to give his seal of approval to the public. (It was not easy for a young Jewish pianist to get off the ground in Paris at that time without a benefactor with a reputation. Anti-Semitism was still rampant in France, the Dreyfuss Affair only a decade old at the time.)
During those early years, the pianist worked as Díemer's assistant. Lazare-Lévy began working on a piano method which he later brought to Victor Staub then a temporary professor to edit and expand upon. As a 25 year old pianist in Paris, even with the reputation he was building publishing a “method” would not be easy. This letter would likely have been written before he involved Staub in the project as his name appears in the list of Conservatoire Professors list. In the end, Díemer approved of the work and agreed to lend his name as the author to get the work published and quickly accepted. The work was entitled Méthode Supérieure pour Piano was published in 1907 by Edition Lemoine.
One will note, Lazare-Lévy specifically refers to exercises in the letter and not “études”. The literally translation to English of the French word étude is exercise. However, an étude is typically a fully formed work and a method is be less than that with finger and hand exercises. He would go on to publish sets of his own fully formed "études" beginning in 1920 and released through 1948. We can date this letter due to the inclusion of the organist Paul Trillat who was a professor of piano and organ at the Lyon Conservatoire, he passed away in 1909. (His son Ennemond would take his position in 1914.) Lazare-Lévy would later walk away from this book of exercises, instead emphasizing a technique more in line with Busoni whom he revered.
The pianist first taught on his own at the Conservatoire in 1914 as a temporary professor allowing him the ability to tour regularly as a virtuoso. In 1923 he agreed to slow down his tours and was appointed full professor replacing Alfred Cortot. Cortot unbeknownst to Lazare-Lévy later slammed the door in the pianist's face as he sought help to escape occupied France blaming it on the Vichy Regime of which he was a part. The pianist lost his position as Professor until after the War and spent the entire time on the move eluding the Nazi’s. One of his sons was part of the resistance, was captured and murdered by the Gestapo. He resumed his career as a performer and pedagogue after the War. Lazare-Lévy's list of pupils at the Conservatoire is impressive including; Henri Barda, Henri Betti, Storm Bull, John Cage, Solomon Cutner, Ginette Doyen, Jacques Dupont, Marcel Dupré, Lukas Foss, Koharik Gazarossian, Valentin Gheorghiu, Monique Haas, Clara Haskil, Marcelle Heuclin, Jean Hubeau, Yvonne Loroid, Michel Plasson, Andre Tchaikowsky and Alexandre Uninsky.
The list of pianists in the letter include: Germaine Alem-Chéné (1881-1946), Gontran Arcouët (1883-1915), Louis Aubert (1877-1968), Adeline Bailet, Helene Barry, Jean Batala (1888-1963), Marie Roger-Miclos Battaille (1860-1951), Emile Bosquet (1878-1950), Mademoiselle Carl, Louise Clapisson Bazelaire (1885-1953), Cecile Boutet de Monvel (1864-1940), Paul Braud (1860-1935), Francoise Jean Clappart (1873-19??), Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), Clothilde Breal Cortot (1870-1947), Marguerite Debrie (1879-19??), Georges Falkenberg (1854-1940), Lucien de Flagny (1876-1927), Gabrielle Fleury-Monchablon, Elisa Louise Gabriel Giraud-Latarse, André Gresse (1868-1937), Madame Hedeman, Aymé Kunc (1877-1958), Georges de Lausnay (1882-1964), Louis Livon (18??-1915), Marguerite Long (1874-1966), Isidor Philipp (1863-1958), Gabriele Pierne (1863-1937), Blanche Selva (1884-1942), Victor Staub (1872-1953), Joseph Thibaux, Paul Trillat (1853-1909), José Vianna da Motta (1868-1948).
A few notes on some of the lesser known names; Adeline Bailet was a virtuoso whose hand was crippled do to an accident, she founded the Nice Conservatoire in 1916 and was it's first Directress. Louise Clapisson Bazelaire was the wife of the cellist, writer and poet Paul Bazelaire and can be heard as his accompanist on some of his early recordings. Elisa Louise Gabriel Giraud-Latarse was Lazare-Lévy's much older rehearsal pianist and assistant at the Conservatoire and she also taught Clara Haskil privately. Gabrielle Fleury-Monchablon was the daughter of the painter Alphonse Monchablon and wife of the flautist Louis Fleury whom she accompanied regularly until his early death.
An extraordinary letter. We frankly have never seen anything quite like it. During our research we verified a number of the addresses, for instance we were able to identify that “Mademoiselle Cortot” was in fact Alfred Cortot’s wife. She was known to be musical, however, she is best known for her important Parisian Jewish lineage and her first marriage to the French dramatist Romain Rolland, than for her skills as a musician. Our method for verifying Alfred Cortot’s Paris address, 7 rue de la Filles-de-Calvaire was a French musicians yearbook from 1909. Cortots’ son the painter Jean was not born until 1925. The most interesting addition and the only one outside of France is the Portuguese pianist José Vianna da Motta, the Liszt pupil who at the time was in addition to performing and teaching ran the Lisbon Conservatory. We are unsure of the linkage between the two but it is interesting.
A wonderful and early Lazare-Lévy letter with a most unusual addition of the major piano pedagogues in France in 1907.
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