Price: sold


One page large quarto double leaf autographed letter signed by the Russian composer and general in French to Camille Saint-Saëns as the recent past President of the Société des Compositeurs, St. Petersburg, February 20, 1892.  We offer with a 4” x 6” postcard photograph of the Repin painting of the composer in his general officer attire.

Cui writes to Saint-Saëns,

Very honorable Sir,


Please send to the Committee of the Society of Music Composers the expression of deep gratitude for the honor they have kindly given me.


Received your letter, Sir, your flattering and friendly expressions and the signature of a composer as eminent as you, nor any touch waved from all expression.


Thank you for being my heart, and to give my feelings of cordial and warm sympathy.


C. Cui


The 20th of February, ‘92

St Petersburg

Foutauka 38

Cui (1835-1918) accepts membership into the French the Société des Compositeurs, like his Russian contemporaries in “The Mighty Handful”, the composers within the group joined as foreign members of the French, Société des Compositeurs which gave them an international recognition they could not receive in Russia.  Further, Cui, was of French origin, his father had been an officer in Napoleon’s army, injured and imprisoned, he met a Lithuanian noblewoman whom he married and stayed; settling in Vilnius.  The composer was fluent in French from an early age.  Like other Russian composers of the time, he had a day job and that was a professor and professional army officer.  Cui’s expertise was as an engineer, moreover his specific area was military fortifications.  He developed, taught and wrote various books and treatises on their design.  He was a lecturer at the Military School of Engineering, his alma mater from 1857, becoming a full professor in 1880.  He was named a general officer in 1906.

Cui was a natural musician, receiving piano lessons from a young age and composed without training in the manner of Chopin.  When he was a teenager, he received some composition lessons from Stanislav Moniuszko, though nothing formal, thus, he was essentially self taught.  The composer came to the attention of Mily Balakriev, head of the powerful “Mighty Handful” which kicked off his other occupation, as a composer.  Despite being considered a “miniaturist”, as the bulk of his work is for chamber, solo instruments and songs, Cui wrote eight opera seria, two opera comique, four children’s operas including, “Puss in Boots” which became an international sensation. He also completed Dargomyzhky’s, “The Stone Guest”, and Mussorgsky’s “The Fair at Sorochyntsi” both left unfinished at the time of their deaths.  Additionally he participated in the opera “Mlada” often credited solely to Rimsky-Korsakov, but really the collaborative work of the five composer’s in Balakriev’s Circle, other wise known unofficially as “The Mighty Handful, or “The Five”. Additionally Cui wrote choral works, both secular and liturgical, ten orchestral works including suites and shorter works, two piano concertos and a work for cello and orchestra. His chamber music included three string quartets and numerous other music for various configurations, some 106 official opus numbers and a long list of songs, a few operas and lots of solo piano music which were published, but never received official opus numbers.

The letter from Saint-Saëns as President of the Société des Compositeurs to Cui in 1891, to which Cui responds in our letter was published in 1897 in a French government volume.  Saint-Saëns invites Cui through the auspices of the Société to join the organization, which led to the production of his opera-comique, “Le Filibuster” in Paris, which had laid unperformed since its’ completion in 1889. The opera was based upon a play by Jean Richepin also wrote Cui’s libretto.  Cui became the first Russian composer to have an opera premiered in Paris, which took place several years later in 1894 at the Opera-Comique. The opera only ran four performances, but broke a glass ceiling in Paris for the Russian composers.  The opera lay dormant until 1908 when it was resurrected at the Moscow Conservatory by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov.  Cui, very proud of the work, did create a symphonic suite of some of the themes from the opera which at the time was quite popular in lighter orchestral concerts. The prelude to the opera has been recorded several times and definitely sounds like a Russian romantic work.


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