Price: sold



Phone: 212-860-5541


One page typed letter signed on the composer’s California letterhead to his Columbia Records producer, John McClure and copied to Columbia Records President Goddard Lieberson, Hollywood, November 11, 1967. We offer with a 4” x 6” sepia postcard suitable for display.


The composer writes,


Mr. John McClure

Columbia Records

51 West 52nd Street

New York, N. Y.


Dear John,


This letter is a pledge to help discharge Mr. Robert Craft’s $10,903.44 debt to CBS.  As both Mr. Craft and CBS (apparently) are in precarious financial circumstances I herewith request and authorize the attachment and application of my own royalties for the six-month period June 30-December 30, 1967 against Mr. Craft’s obligations.  For his part, Mr. Craft guarantees to pay the balance outstanding - - after the additional forfeiture of his own royalties for the same period - - in cash, furniture paintings, and so forth (assuming that the confiscation of these bulkier items is implied as the alternative to that “orderly liquidation” mentioned in Mr. E. Friedman’s richly ungrammatical note of October 17: “At this time we wish to follow up and get your thoughts on arranging for the orderly liquidation of this past due indebtness”).  I trust that this solution meets the approval of Messrs’ Friedman, Loughlin, Wiedenmann, etc.


Cordially as always,


Igor Stravinsky



Cc: Mr. Goddard Lieberson


Stravinsky (1882-1971) had a wonderful relationship with John McClure, making 30 records with the record producer in his lifetime, albeit some conducted by Craft.  This sardonic letter with Stravinsky at his witty best was written for an audience much larger than McClure.  According to Craft’s 1994 edition of his book, Stravinsky, Chronicle of a Friendship, Revised and Expanded Edition, the 85 year old Stravinsky in November of 1967 was seriously ill with an infection which had started with a gout attack and eventually effected his heart.  The composer had recently arrived home from the hospital and in the care of home health care from which he eventually recovered, albeit weakened.  This letter which was written in response to letters from three Columbia Records employees, customer financial relations manager Eugene Friedman, credit manager William Loughlin and record producer Jack Wiedenmann seeking the repayment of advance on royalties given to Craft. Goddard Lieberson was known to green light risky and sometimes low selling products. If we are to allow for inflation the $10,903.44 would be slightly over $90,000.00 in 2021, so it was a significant amount. In 1965 and 1966, Craft had conducted recordings of: Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Monteverdi, none were chart toppers and moreover, slow sellers.  He obviously took more in advances against royalties as a bet on the come and had been unable to repay the loan even with his royalties on the Stravinsky recordings. Stravinsky, as an old and at that time very sick man created a plan for the repayment to the person he was closest to other than his wife Vera.


While the jury will likely always be out amongst the cognoscenti on the full scope of Craft’s (1923-2015)  relationship with Stravinsky; this letter certainly secures the fact that the composer was willing to step in, in a significant way to help his assistant.  By 1967, the pair had worked together on a daily basis for 30 years.  Despite Craft’s questionable alteration of his history with Stravinsky in his later writings and his provably lackluster conducting skills.  The two really considered themselves surrogate father and son.  Stravinsky’s own children by and large had abandoned him after he married Vera and when they did come to see him, spent as little time as possible around her.  Interestingly, the typist of the letter “ms” was his youngest child, Maria-Milena Stravinsky Marion (who showed up in Los Angeles infrequently and generally when she needed financial support, but at times stayed in the family home when she was not in Europe; eventually living her later years and dying in Los Angeles at the age of 99.  Her husband André had been the composer’s personal secretary in France in the 1920’s.  It clearly shows that at least one member of the family had oversight and was aware of what Stravinsky was doing for Craft in this instance.


Note, this matter was not raised by Craft in any of his books, or articles on the composer!