Price: $200.00


The Italian composer and pianist autographs and inscribes a 5.5” x 8” album leaf To dear Signora Dolly with memory of faithful friendship and adds a 2 bar musical quotation from the second to last bar of his Toccata for piano, op. 6, Rome, August 19, 1943.  The page is also signed with a rare autograph of the legendary German conductor Fritz Steinbach.  On the verso is an autographed note from a gentleman named Amado Hern to Dolly praising her kitchen, thus we believe the album was kept in a restaurant in Rome.  We offer with a 5.5” x 8.5” image of Casella composing at the piano and an original postcard photograph of Steinbach bearing a facsimile autograph and produced for the first German Brahms Festival in Munich, September 10 - 14, 1909.


Casella (1883-1947) trained in Paris with Louis Diemer and Gabriel Fauré beginning in 1896 at the Paris Conservatoire where he was a classmate of Maurice Ravel.  He received a first in piano performance in 1899.  His brilliance as a pianist-conductor-composer was well recognized by his elder contemporaries, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky among others, who were also his friends and influenced his composition style.  The Toccata written in 1904 was dedicated to pianist Edouard Risler and displays both Italian and French influence, particularly a Debussy like tonic in part. Another Diemer pupil, a decade older than Casella.  The quotation is from the second to last bar of the work, one of the most difficult in the piano liturgy.  The Toccata is triple staved in part similar to an organ work with two treble lines, is a work he quoted throughout his life.  The two bars are the beginning of what some call “the grand gesture” of the work, a bravura ending to what is already a truly virtuostic piece.


Fritz Steinbach (1855-1916) is chiefly remembered as Brahm’s most important champion at the end of his life and the most important conductor of the composer’s work, other than himself.  He was introduced to Brahms by musicologist Hermann Krestschmar who appealed to  Brahms to take the young musician on.  Brahms not interested in teaching anyone sent the young conductor to several of his cronies in Vienna, Gustav Nottebohm and Anton Door and  in Karlsruhe, Otto Dessoff and Franz Lahner.  Once his education was complete he was hired as the 2nd Kapellmeister of the Mainz Orchester.  He was placed on Hanz von Bülow’s radar and he helped Steinbach receive a professorship at the Frankfurt Hochschule für Musik in counterpoint and composition.  When Bülow abruptly resigned his post as Kapellmeister of the Meinigen Hofkapelle in 1884, Richard Strauss was deputized for a season as interim Kapellmeister.  Based upon Bülow’s and Brahms’s recommendation, Steinbach was appointed Kapellmeister in 1886 where he served until 1902. 


Steinbach became perhaps Brahms’ most important champion in Germany.  Brahms also returned the favor often conducting in Meiningen whether alone, or sharing the platform with Steinbach.  Steinbach also regularly saw Brahms conduct his own music in rehearsal and performance, so he knew what the composer expected from an orchestra.  There are accounts of Brahms elated with Steinbach’s performances of his works.  In one case after a performance by Steinbach and the orchestra of his first symphony, Brahms was so taken he requested a bis!  Steinbach orchestrated four Brahms Festivals in Meiningen beginning in 1895.  The festivals were so well received that he took them to other cities including Baden-Baden, Munich (the 1909 card we offer was from that festival), Wiesbaden and Edinburgh.  Steinbach’s conducting of Brahms and other works earned the highest praises from his fellow musicians, including: Arturo Toscanini, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Adrian Boult and Edward Elgar among others.  He also toured the Meiningen Hofkapelle, taking them to London twice, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, Madrid and New York. 


At the beginning of the 1903 season he was appointed Kapellmeister of the Gürzenuch Orchester Köln where he served until 1914.  It also allowed him to teach conducting and composition at the Hochschule in Köln.  Several of his students included Fritz and Adolf Busch, Karl Elmendorf, Hans Knappertsbusch, Franz Mittler and Erwin Schulhoff.  His pupil the conductor and Brahms disciple Walter Blüme wrote an important treatise on the works of Brahms which also goes into great detail about Steinbach’s conducting of the composer’s music as he had his marked scores.  There are no recordings by Steinbach, so Blume is as close as we come to the conductor.  Steinbach also conducted other orchestras as a guest, most notably the London Symphony Orchestra. Steinbach was also a regular guest conductor throughout the German speaking world.  While we cannot ascertain if he was working, or vacationing, the Morgan Library in New York City has correspondence from Steinbach whilst he was in Rome. 


It was said by the German critic Alexander Berrsche, that when Steinbach passed away in 1916, that “the Brahms interpreter of all Brahms interpreters” had died and that “with Steinbach’s death, Brahms has passed away a second time”.


An interesting pairing of autographs as Casella autographs a page that Steinbach had autographed many years prior.  The postcard’s line near Steinbach’s eye is from the original printing of the card and not something that occurred later.  The leaf has a few light fox marks, not atypical of Rome’s climate and two small edge tears which can be seen in the scan above.










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