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FINE CONDITION

CHARLES GOUNOD - COMPOSER

First edition, first issue piano-vocal score of Gounod’s 1860 opera comique, “Philemon et Baucis”.  Gounod’s exclusive published, Antoine de Choudens has autographed and dedicated the title page to Gound’s dedicatee, Marie Miolan-Carvahlo, A Mme. Miolan souvenir amical de l’editeur.

 

Philemon et Baucis, bound in quarter Moroccan with the composers name and opera name embossed in gold on the outside. Marbled boards and one blank end page.  Title page: THÉÁTRE LYRIQUE/àMadame Miolan Carvalho/PHILÉMON/ET/BAUCIS,/Opéra en trios actes,/DE MM/Jules Barbier et Michel Carré/MUSIQUE/DE/CH. GOUNOD./PARTITION CHANT ET PIANO,/RÉDUITE PAR HECTOR SALOMON./A.V./PARIS, CHOUNDENS, éditeur,/rue Saint Honoré, 265, prés L’Assomption./(Deposé selon, les traitis internationaux prop.ép.r tous pays)  Title page bears the dedication to Miolan and bears the Choudens stamp. Verso of the title page is blank, followed by a page showing the original 1860 cast and “Catalogue des Morceaux”. The catalogue page verso blank. Page 1, first page of music “Introduction Pastorale” through page 175. Verso of page 175 is blank, followed by marbled boards. Plate number AC 703. 1860

 

Gounod’s 1860 opera was composed with his usual writing team of Jules Barbier and Michel Carré.  The three wrote, “Faust” (1859),  “Philémon et Baucis” (1860), “La Columbe” (1860),  “La Reine de Saba” (1862), “Mireille” (1864 Carré alone), “Roméo et Juliette” (1864) and “Polyeucte” (1878) together. Choudens published all of the works and composer, Hector Salomon who also wrote with Barbier arranged all of the piano-vocal reductions except for “Faust” which was reduced by Leo Delibes.  Salomon also wrote specialized arrangements of the most popular works for piano 4 hands and small combinations of instruments.

 

The opera was written for an 1859 opera festival in Baden-Baden as a one act piece.  However, due to the Second War of Italian Independence, safety could not be guaranteed, so the opera was first given at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris, the same house where “Faust” was premiered the previous year.  The cast included two of the original leads of “Faust” with Marie Miolan-Carvahlo, the original Marguerite and also wife of the Theatre Director Léon Carvahlo as Baucis.  Emile Balanque, the original Mephistopheles sung the role of Vulcain.  The tenor Froment was borrowed from the Opera Comique to sing Philémon, bass Charles Battaile sung Jupiter and Marie Sax sung Bacchante.  Based on the success of “Faust” Carvahlo hired Cambon and Thierry the same set and costume designers who created the 1859 production and they created an elaborate Grecian set.  There were great expectations for the work and it played 13 performances.  Miolan provided the main excitement when a bouquet thrown to her caught fire at the footlights which she had to be put out.  The expense of the production led to Léon Carvahlo resigning the following year.  The critics generally agreed it had a lot of potential, but should be reduced to two acts. Gounod sat on the work until 1875, when he revised it for the Opera Comique in a 2 act format.  The revised version played on May 16, 1876 and was a critical triumph and played in the theatre some 240 times through 1940.

 

Marie Miolan-Carvahlo (1827-1895) was a pupil of Gilbert Duprez at the Conservatoire where she took premiere prix in voice.  After a tour of the provinces she made her Paris Opera debut in 1849 as Lucia de Lammermoor.  She sang on and off at the Opera Comique, however, her most important years were with the Théâtre Lyrique.  She married Léon Carvahlo in 1853 and from 1856 to 1867 sung as the main prima donna of the house creating some 30 roles. For Gounod, she created Marguerite in “Faust”, Baucis in “Philémon et Baucis”  which he dedicated to her, the title role of “Mireille” and Juliette in “Rome et Juliette”. “Philémon et Baucis” was the only opera dedicated to her.

 

Antoine de Choudens (1825-1888) founded the important publishing firm which bore his name and became the toast of Parisan music publishers after the first edition of Gounod’s “Faust” was published in 1859.  He became Bizet’s publisher and promoter as well. Some of the other important French composers who published their works with the elder Choudens include: Bruneau, Godard, Lalo, Offenbach, Reyer and Saint-Saëns.  Hector Berlioz who was not loyal to any one publisher gave Choudens the rights to publish both parts of “Les Troyens”. Fauré also not loyal published several of his song cycles with Choudens as well. The firm was inherited by his sons Paul and Anthony who went to work for him in 1875, but not until his death.

 

The significance of this score is twofold, it is an extremely scarce first edition of the piano-vocal score.  A later printing later the same year had the standard Choudens frontispiece of the time and is more widely available. The second is the autographed dedication of the score to Gounod’s dedicatee which is a super-rarity and rarely turn up. As important as Miolan-Carvahlo was to Gounod, it was the only opera he dedicated to her.  As the opera was not a success at first, it is unlikely Gounod signed a score to her, hence this volume.

 

The condition is overall fine for a score of this age.  The outer board show a slight bit of wear, the inside is generally quite clean save a little age toning on the title page and a small stain which reaches 2 pages.  There are a few grease pencil and pencil edits, on 4 pages, else clean.