Text Box: CELLIST autographs


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


Price: $650.00


Scarce two-page autographed letter signed by the virtuoso cellist to the famed French lawyer Pierre-Antoine Berryer, Paris, no year.  We offer with a full-length A. Ken of Paris carte de visite photograph resplendent in his top hat.  Note Batta’s personal autograph flourish at the top left of the first page.


Batta writes:


My dear Monsieur Berryer,

I have not forgotten that you were kind enough to allow me to make an appearance in Augerville for the end of October, if you will be there by this time, will you be good enough, if my request is not intrusive, to take the trouble to let me know when I can, without fear of being intrusive, come to you for a few days.

For four months I have been constantly away and I am afraid on my return that I will change my residence in Saint-Germain; I will therefore have all the more happiness in savoring the delights of your so benevolent and so Royal hospitality; I wish to meet a partner who will join me to play you one of Mozart's beautiful sonatas.

Believe my very dear Monsieur Berryer in all my most affectionate and most extremely devoted sentiments.

Alexandre Batta

Saint-Germain en Laye

(Seine and Oise).


Alexandre Batta (1816-1902) was a Dutch virtuoso cellist who spent his life in Paris.  He was held by composers and the public alike as the cellist equivalent of Franz Liszt as a pianist.  Born in Maastricht to a musical family, a chance concert by French cellist Nicolas-Joseph Platel led to his interest in learning to play the instrument.  His father, a solfege professor at the Brussels Royal Conservatoire was his first teacher.  He entered the same conservatory and studied with his ideal, Platel there.  After taking first prize in 1834, he moved to Paris and Franz Liszt introduced him to his patron, the Countess de Merlin.


Batta’s fame grew exponentially.  Among the many, Liszt was a regular chamber music partner, Thalberg and Charles Hallé.  Berlioz wrote to Franz Liszt on August 6, 1839 after a Batta-Hallé performance, Beethoven’s A major Sonata, of which the first movement excited us wildly, and the minuet and finale merely redoubled our musical exaltation, although the bottles of champagne were already in circulation…. (Hector Berlioz A Selection From His Letters, Humphrey Searle ed. 1973)  Interestingly, Liszt, Batta and Chrétien Urhan were amongst the first performers to introduce the Beethoven piano trios to Paris at the Érard salon within their showroom on January 28 and February 2nd, 4th and 13th, 1837.  A great favorite with the young women of Paris, they would gather as young women did for Liszt and Batta played it up.  Not impressed, Clara Schumann on her first trip to Paris wrote to her father on March 13, 1839, The day after tomorrow is Schlesinger’s matinée at Érard’s…..I am playing the B flat major trio at it with Batta and Artot….You can easily imagine how I feel at playing in Paris for the first time…..The next day I was at a concert of Batta’s, who is adored by the ladies here…..because he flirts with them while he is playing till one can hardly bear it; he plays delicately, but (as I wrote in my diary) he has an affected, French soul. (Clara Schumann, An Artist’s Life, Based on Material Found in Diaries and Letters, vol. I, Berlard Litzmann, 1913)  Poet Heinrich Heine who was living in Paris at this time was extremely impressed with his skill as a musician, but deplored his crying and “whimpering” as he performed.  Artist Eugène Delacroix had a most amusing observation regarding Batta versus Auguste Franchomme after discussing the two cellists with Princess Czartoryska and amateur cellist, What she regards as expansive, solid and precise in Franchomme, I see as cold and dry.  With Batta, I’m less aware someone is scraping on wood: the artist’s is not so obtrusive…. (Chopin Studies 2, John Rink & Jim Samson eds., 1994) Charles Gounod dedicated his “Ave Maria” in 1853 to his father-in-law, pianist Pierre-Joseph Zimmermann and the pianist played the first performance with a violinist. Several weeks later, he allowed Batta to perform the improvised work on the cello and due to Batta’s performance preferred it to the original version.  Meyerbeer who felt he owed a debt to Batta for creating virtuosic showpieces of his opera arias for cello which helped popularize his operas, invited a guest to a concert, describing him as our greatest violoncellist today.


Batta made numerous solo cello tours throughout Europe gaining awards from assorted royals as he went.  In June of 1840, Liszt was his accompanist in London performing Beethoven sonatas.  Batta like Liszt and his virtuoso contemporaries wrote numerous pieces for the cello to be performed in recital.  While a number of the pieces were original, the bulk were based upon opera themes of various composers and Schubert lieder.


Pierre-Antoine Berryer (1790-1868) was a French lawyer, member of the French Parliament and held “Seat Four” of the Académie Française.  He purchased Augerville Castle at auction in 1825 and remodeled and updated it so he could hold various arts festivals there; for 43 years.  The crème de la crème of French society would flock to his castle to attend these events, including Rossini, Chopin, Liszt etc. etc.

A scarce letter of one of the greatest cellist’s of the 19th Century!