Text Box:   

Price: $350.00


Autographed letter on both sides of a large 3” x 5” imprinted carte de visite as Honorary Vice President of the Sociètè des Auters et Compositeurs, April 27, 1992.


My dear Christophe Durand.


Here are all your signed songs. My first song is called  “La Dernière bergère” (The Last Shepherdess) and was written in the metro on my return home from the publisher Raoul Breton. I was writing the text written the day before by Louis Savaut, also a beginner and was Recorded immediately by Jean Sablon (with Django Reinhardt on guitar and me on piano). Your last question: Camille François, Sergelys and J. M. Renaitour, the three deceased.


That's all I can do for you.


With my cordial memory.


Alex Siniavine


Siniavine (1906-1996) was born in Odessa in the Ukraine, the son of a doctor who died during the composer’s infancy.  He fled the Ukraine with his Mother at the time of the Revolution and they arrived in in Bucharest, Romania.  He had the facility for music as a young boy and was taught piano, but was often distracted by youthful activities.  He eventually buckled down and entered the National University of Music, Bucharest at the age of 18.  To makes end meet, he would also play piano in various Bucharest clubs and cabarets.  He earned first prize his senior year and was awarded a scholarship to study in Paris.  He arrived in Paris with the idea that he would enroll in law school and he did in fact spend two years at the Sorbonne.  Siniavine had no means to support himself other than the scholarship, so he took on jobs playing piano a various functions.  As he played more and more events, he was asked to play in the hottest cabarets of their time; Casanova, Kasbek and L’Aigle Noir.  He had a chance encounter with a Director of the Transatlantic Line and was hired for a year (1932) to play piano on the ships making their journey to America and Canada.  He also applied for and received his French citizenship at this time.  From 1933 to 1934 he moved to Monte Carlo, where he met the singer and actor Jean Sablon and his sister Germaine. Jean had worked with Cole Porter and George Gershwin and even had a show on CBS in the United States.  (Jean had arranged for Django Reinhardt’s Paris debut and often sung with him in his various musical groups including Le Jazz Hot!)  While out to a party with Germaine he met Raoul Breton the powerful Parisian music publisher who asked him if he composed.  While Siniavine had dabbled, in composition, it had never amounted to anything and was primarily for himself.  Breton hands him the lyrics for a poem, “La Dernière bergère”, “The Last Shepherdess” and as he states in our letter, he wrote the tune on the way home on the metro.  Sauvat (1908-1978) was a French writer, poet and lyricist who was a contemporary of Siniavine and they worked together fruitfully for a number of years.  Sauvat also wrote the French lyrics for the major Disney films.  The work was recorded by Columbia on January 7, 1935 in Paris with Django Reinhardt on guitar, Siniavine on piano and Jean Sablon singing the vocals.  This recording led to a number of other sessions with Reinhardt and Siniavine collaborating on his compositions; for French Gramophone, February 5, 1935 “Vieni, Vieni” with Reinhardt, Siniavine, Michel Walop & his Orchestre and La Petit Mirsha, On February 22 with the same configuration, “Masman, ne vends pas la maison” and “Petit Homme, C’est l’heure de fair Dodo”, May 17, 1935, Reinhardt and Siniavine recorded with Jean and Germaine Sablon, “Un Amour comme le Notre” and “Le Petit Íle”.  All feature in the Reinhardt anthologies.  “La Dernière bergère” turned into a huge hit for Siniavine and his services were in demand as both a composer and a pianist.  "Pour vous, j'ai fait cette chanson", "Quand tu partiras", "Rêverie", "Attends moi mon amour", "Ma pamplemousse", "Le petit nez retroussé", "Feuille au vent", "Insensiblement", "Cette nuit est à nous", "Ukraine", "Paris, tu n'as pas changé", "La bague à Jules" are just a few of the titles.  Siniavine in addition to the Sablons worked with Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, Jeanette MacDonald, Danielle Darieux, Patachou and many more with his songs.  He also performed regularly with a combo of his own, with the composer at the piano, with guitar, bass and drums.  He also recorded significantly with this format, a leader in French cocktail music of both his own invention and that of others in his own arrangements. He was apparently imprisoned by the Nazis for a time during 1940, where he wrote, "Attends moi mon amour” which he dedicated to his wife, the French actress and model Raymonde Allain who from  1927 to 1928 was both Miss Britain and Miss France in consecutive years.  He continued working in the cabarets of Paris, in 1938, Sporting d'été" , in 1942 to 1947 "Carrère", "Ciro's" in Monte-Carlo and the famous, "Les Capucines" Paris in 1946. His unique piano style in his light jazz/cocktail music was in demand and between his live performances, tours throughout the World and his successful recording career he could compose when he felt like it. He opened a cabaret in 1953 with the French crooner and actor André Claveau (1911-2003) and eventually retired.  His successful marriage to Raymonde Allain lasted until his death in 1996.    He mentions three of his song writers who had died.

An important letter describing the history of Siniavine’s greatest hit, one which he recorded with the immortal Gypsy Guitarist, Django Reinhardt!  Scarce!



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