Price: $300.00



We offer a dictated one page typed letter by the composer to Maestro Toscanini via the 1st Secretary of the Soviet Embassy to the United States, Vladimir Bazykin on the Soviet Union Embassy stationary, May 9, 1944, however  not transmitted July 17, 1944.

The entire text of the letter:

July 17, 1944

Mr. Arturo Toscanini                                                                                                         253 Sycamore Street                                                                                                    Riverdale, New York

My dear maestro:

             I have received your wonderful letter and a picture of yourself, for which Mrs. Bazykin and myself express our cordial appreciation.

             In my letter to composer Kabalevsky I wrote about my sympathetic meeting with you in Philadelphia after the concert on February 6th.  Upon receipt of my letter, Mr. Kabalevsky asked me to transmit to you the following message:

Moscow, May 9, 1944.

“My dear Maestro:

             I asm writing to express to you, the great jusician and conductor of our time, my deep gratitude for the attention to my music.

             The day when I learnt that my Second Symphony for the first time in the United States was performed under your baton was the day of a great holiday for me.

             Recently I received a letter from Mr. Bazykin who was present at your concert on February 6th in Philadelphia.  Writing about the concert, Mr. Bazykin called it “unforgettable”.

             I feel sure that I shall express the sincere opinion of my friends-composers if I say that the performance of our works under your direction is our dream.  And when we learn that our dream becomes a reality, we congratulate each other.  Though we heard you only in recordings, we know and admire you, as if we have been acquainted with you personally since long ago.

             I think, therefore, you will not be surprised if I will express my great desire to have your autographed picture.  I shall be infinitely grateful if you will desire to fulfill my request.

I and my friends-composers send you our warm greetings, gratitude and sincere wishes for many years of your splendid creative activity.

Dm. Kabalevsky

Bazykin (1908-1965) was the First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. from 1940-1945 and later the Soviet Ambassador to Mexico.  During that time, he was the official conduit between the Union of Soviet Composers and conductors and musicians in the United States and those desiring to perform in the United States.  As most of the Soviet composers did not have a grasp of English, or in Toscanini’s case, Italian as well, he acted as an intermediary with dictated letters such as the one we are offering and telegrams.  Further, with World War II raging in Europe at the time, mainly in the Crimea at the time of Kabalevsky’s letter and also for the US, which was in the planning stages of D-Day which occurred less than a month after the composer’s letter and a month before Bazykin transmitted Kabalevsky’s letter here, obviously it was tenuous at best for communication to occur in a timely fashion.  directly.  This particular letter was originally sold in a lot within the Walfredo Toscanini estate auction at Sotheby’s in 2012. Interestingly, it had not gone with the Toscanini Legacy to the New York Public Library.

Toscanini became interested in performing contemporary Soviet composer’s works as early as 1939, when he performed Shostakovich’s 1st Symphony with his NBC Symphony in January, 1939.  After the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, he decided to perform more works by current Soviet composers, the first was Shostakovich again in July, 1941, when they performed the composer’s 7th Symphony (Leningrad).  Kabalevsky (1904-1987) was the next Soviet composer Toscanini studied and conducted and that was the work described in the letter, the 2nd Symphony which was performed live and aired on November 8th, 1942.  The performance was the American and International Premiere and Olin Downes wrote in his New York Times review, The symphony made an excellent impression, not only because the writing is fresh, enthusiastic and expert, but also for the fact that no hullabaloo was made in advance about it before its’ American Premiere…..Mr. Kabalevsky has not been obliged to live up to a reputation, or be sure that he adequately represents the ideas of his government in his scores…..It is one work by a sincere and accomplished Russian composer…. Actually, the statement about the fact that Kabalevsky did not “adequately represents the ideas of his government” in the score could not be further from the truth.  While the 2nd Symphony was written in 1934 and Kabalevsky did not join the Communist Party until 1940, winning his first official government composition prize in 1941, he was a consummate politician and the Symphony despite it’s contemporary Romantic writing was political and was deemed “The struggle of mankind to reform society within Soviet values.”  A live recording in great sound of the performance has been well issued.  Further, Toscanini in April of 1943, perhaps not to Kabalevsky’s knowledge performed the overture to his opera “Colas Breugnon”, also an American Premiere.  The overture is better known than the 1938 opera and was reissued over and over again in Toscanini recordings.  Toscanini also studied Kabalevsky’s Cello Concerto and discussed performing it, but that event did not occur.  

There are several Bazykin letters and telegrams within the Toscanini legacy which are dated in 1944, including the Secretary acting as an intermediary between Toscanini and Shostakovich over metronome markings for his 5th Symphony, as well as correspondence with David Oistrakh who wanted to come to America to perform with the Maestro.  Toscanini admired Oistrakh as one of the up and coming performers of the time, however, they were not to perform together.  Oistrakh made his American debut in 1955, a year after the Maestro retired.

A unique and historical original letter with wonderful content and association despite the lack of an autograph.




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