Text Box: Conductor autographs


Price: $350.00


Autographed postcard photograph with a letter by the Russian conductor, pianist, composer and pedagogue to Mustel Pére et Fils, the inventor and manufacturer of the celesta, Kislovdsk, Caucuses, April, 1909.

From the French:

Kislovdsk, Caucuses, the 18/31 April, 1909

Messieurs Mustel Father & Son



I have received and read your letter of the 28th of July and I wrote to the librarian of the Conservatoire about your "Yue Espreaf", so that he could erase it in due course.

Afterwards, Messieurs, my thanks and my compliments

W Safonoff

Safanov (1852-1918) was born in the Russian Caucus Mountains. His Father was a Cossack General.  He initially studied piano with Theodor Leschetiszky in St. Petersburg and then went on to the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied with the Belgian pianist and Moscheles pupil Louis Brassin, as well as Sieke and Zaremba for theory and composition.  He won the Conservatories' Gold Medal in 1880 and begun his professional solo piano career the same year playing in Austria, Germany and Hungary.  He also accompanied cellist Carl Davidov on tour that year as well.  In 1881 he joined the faculty of the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he taught until 1885 and then joined the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory where he taught from 1885 to 1905.  He was made Director in 1889 where he served until his "retirement" in 1905.  During this period he taught a remarkable list of pianists including: Alexander Goedicke, Josef and Rosina Lhevinne, Nikolai Medtner, Leonid Nikolaev, Matvei Pressman and Alexander Scriabin.  1889 was also important to Safanov as he took up the conducting baton and founded a series of popular, low priced concerts for locals.  In 1890 he was made Director of the Moscow branch of the Russian Music Society. He led the orchestra in December 1893 with the first Moscow performance of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony. (7 weeks after Tchaikovsky's death.)  In 1895 he founded the Academic Symphony Orchestra in the North Caucus State which bears his name today.   In 1904 he was hired as a guest conductor by the New York Philharmonic, invited back the following year for more concerts and in 1906 he was appointed Music Director of the Philharmonic where he served until 1909.   During that time he was also Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City.  He was succeeded by Gustav Mahler at the Philharmonic.  In 1906 he was invited to Great Britain where he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and then followed that with several highly successful concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic.  It was those concerts in Vienna which cemented his offer by the New York Philharmonic to be its' Music Director in 1906.  After leaving New York in 1909, he was invited back to Great Britain where he led the majority of the concerts at the Newcastle Upon Tyne Music Festival.  From 1909 to 1912 he resumed the Directorship of the Russian Music Society in Moscow, leading their concerts.  He also often played with chamber ensembles.  His book "A New Formula" in piano technique was published in 1916.   

Safanov was a world beater as a Russian conductor.  He was praised not only for his interpretation of Russian works, but also the works of the German Romantics and the 19th Century French composers.  He was one of the first Russian conductors to conduct virtually all of the major European symphony orchestras.  Safanov also was the first conductor to conduct exclusively with his hands, paving the way for conductors like Leopold Stokowski and Kurt Masur among others.

Mustel Pére et Fils of Paris were founded by Auguste (1842-1919) and his son Alphonse (1873-1936).  They were manufacturers or Harmoniums and invented the keyed instrument the celesta.  They were known for their innovations to the harmonium over time, the Grandfather and Father were trained cabinet makers, Alphonse who also was a cabinet maker was an Alexandre Guilmant trained organist.  The celesta was originally invented in 1866 and called the “typophone”, after a design tweak in 1886, they styled it as a celesta.  The sold Tchaikovsky an instrument which he used when writing his Nutcracker in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies”.

We have no idea what, or who “Yue Espreaf” is but it appears Safanov did the Mustels a favor.  An interesting way to communicate with your associations with a oicture of yourself on the correspondence!


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