Text Box: PIANIST autographs

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Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247


Price: $200.00



Autographed 5 bar musical quotation of the pianist-composer’s Serenata for pianoforte and violoncello, op. 39, July 13th, 1897. The quotation is on a small blank 2.5” x 3.5” heavy stock card.

Mason’s most popular work at one time was first published by Eduard Schuberth in New York, 1882.  We have been unable to locate any information about the premiere or commission. This is Mason’s only published work for piano and cello.

William Mason (1829-1908) was the earliest born American concert pianist.  His good friend Louis Moreau Gottschalk was four months his junior. Mason was born in Boston, his father Lowell was a Doctoral graduate in music from NYU and a major figure in New England church music.  William, his third son was musically gifted as a child but his father was determined that he become a clergyman, so his talent was not encouraged.  In 1845, at the age of 16, he was sent to study with the composer - conductor Henry Schmidt at his father’s Boston Academy of Music. (Lowell Mason and William Woodbridge established the conservatory in 1833 attached to the Odeon Theatre, the concert hall in Boston at the time.)  Mason was taught piano, composition and theory by Schmidt.  The young pianist made his debut in 1846 in Boston playing a work by Henri Herz with a quintet accompanying him.  It was at this time he saw the pianist Leopold de Meyer and initially adopted some of his mannerisms.  In 1849, Mason went to Paris where a chance meeting with Meyerbeer led to a trip to Leipzig to study with Ignaz Moscheles.  When he arrived he was readily accepted.  He also studied harmony and counterpoint with Moritz Hauptmann and theory with Ernst Richter.  He then went to Prague to study with Alexander Dreyschock. In 1853 at the invitation of Sir Julius Benedict he gave his London recital debut at Exeter Hall playing the Weber Konzerstücke under Benedict’s baton.  In April, 1853 without a formal invitation, Mason arrived in Weimar, as Liszt had invited him to come four years earlier.  When he arrived Liszt responded, “Well Mason, you keep people waiting a long time” followed by “I’ve been expecting you for four years.” After an audition where he played his own works, he was accepted.  Mason remained until July, 1854 and apparently never saw Liszt again.  He was both Liszt and Moscheles’ first American pupil.

Mason returned to Boston and made several recital tours around the country during that first year to excellent reviews.  In 1855, not finding the touring life cerebral enough he settled in New York City. He felt the city was best suited to his musical desires to perform, teach and compose.  He befriended Theodore Thomas the conductor, a young violinist émigré from Germany, who the year before joined the fledgling New York Philharmonic Society.  Mason and Thomas formed the Mason-Thomas Quartette, which lasted for thirteen years, ending in 1869 when Thomas formed his own orchestra.  The Quartette played a number of American premieres of European composer’s works through the Civil War.  For instance, the Quartette gave the first performances of Schumann’s three early string quartets in America in the early 1860’s.  In 1860 at the concerts, Mason offered the American Premiere of Chopin’s ballades.  An unknown “New York Times” critic wrote about Mason’s performance, “It is filled with melodies and a piece of strong effects - not a simple and uninterrupted musical narrative, as a Ballade should be”  he then went on to say, “Mr. Mason collected the author’s meaning with fine foresight and feeling, and the performance was consequently excellent.”  In all he played 110 concerts between 1846-1884.

Mason opened up his studio in 1855, moving to Steinway Hall in 1866 and became “America’s most foremost piano pedagogue”.  His most important student was William Hall Sherwood who would also go on to study with Liszt.  Another student was Julia Rive-King.  He also wrote 5 treatises on piano technique between 1867 and 1891.

As a composer, Mason wrote numerous salon pieces for piano solo and songs.  The works initially were influenced by the bravura pieces he heard performed both in the U.S. and Europe.  His later works became more refined and in many cases typical American salon pieces.  His later works were more personal and represented the times.