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Typed letter signed to Abram Chasins on Philadelphia Orchestra stationary, January 7th, 1930.


January 7th, 1930

Mr. Abram Chasins

309 West 86th Street

New York, N.Y.

Dear Mr. Chasins-

I am much distressed to learn from your letter of your recent illness.  I have all the more sympathy with you as I too have been through a rather serious case of mastoiditis.  In 1909 I had an operation on my left ear, and for as time it looked very serious.  Things turned out well, and my hearing was not impaired in any way.  I am telling you this so that you may not worry unnecessarily in case an operation should have to be made after all.

The principal thing after such an illness is to take ample time to recuperate.  Therefore do not do anything hasty.  If you find by the beginning of February that you are not absolutely well, and therefore you should not take any chances, let us know then, and we will try to arrange your appearance at some later time.

…….P.S. Yes, I did hear of Mr. Fonaroff’s death, and it upset me very much.  Just yesterday I wrote a letter to Mrs. Foraroff about it.

This is a most historical letter in relation to Chasin’s career.  Gabrilowitsch (1878-1936) was know both as a pianist and a conductor.  A pupil of both Anton Rubinstein and Theodor Leschetiszky, he travelled the World as on of the great concert pianists of the tail end of the 19th Century and first third of the 20th Century.  His conducting career began in 1910 when he was appointed conductor of the München Konzertverein.  Wrongly imprisoned as a Jewish agitator during World War I, it took a Cardinal to intercede to free him. He came beck to America at that point and resumed his career.  After turning down the post of Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he accepted a position to become the inaugural conductor of the Detroit Symphony in  1918. A position he held until his death.  From 1928-1930 he was co-conductor with Leopold Stokowski of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Interestingly that situation worked for both men who were by all accounts friends and they regularly socialized with their wives, Gabrilowitsch playing duets with Stokowski’s wife at the time, Olga Samaroff.  Both names were on the stationary masthead. 

Abram Chasins (1903-1987) was an American concert pianist, composer, educator, broadcaster (headed WQXR in New York City) and writer.  He made his debut with orchestra on January 29th, 1929 with the Philadelphia Orchestra with Gabrilowitsch conducting.  The occasion marked the World Premiere of Chasins own 1st piano concerto.  Chasins was connected to Gabrilowitsch with his teacher Josef Hofmann, also a pupil of Anton Rubinstein. 

Chasins’ in his book, Speaking of Pianists remembered Gabrilowitsch as a performer, The piano sung under Gabrilowitsch’s fingers.  Curiously, despite the prestige and admiration he enjoyed, je played his recitals in small halls to select audiences. He was, much the same way as Georges Enesco, the musicians’ musician, regardless of the role in which he was cast…...Personally, Gabrilowitsch was a self-effacing, erudite gentleman whose aristocratic manner, speech, dress, and bearing derived from a gracious earlier era…….Every account of Gabrilowitsch must mention his professional generosity and courtliness.  I know them well, for it was under his benevolent baton that I made my debut in 1929 in my own First Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  I have ample cause to honor the man as well as the artist.

A unique and interesting letter connecting the two pianists. 

Mastoiditis is an middle and inner ear infection.  Mark Foranoff, mentioned in the letter was Chasin’s uncle and part of the New York-Russian emigree community.  They were very timed in as well with the musical community in New York City of the time.  Chasin’s first encounter with Leopold Godowsky was in their home.