Text Box: PIANIST autographs
Text Box: HARMONIE AUTOGRAPHS AND MUSIC INC.

MUSIC AUTOGRAPHS & ANTIQUARIAN
Text Box: MUSIC AUTOGRAPHS AND EPHEMERA BOUGHT AND SOLD

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

 

Price: $200.00

NEAR MINT CONDITION

ALFRED CORTOT - PIANIST

Autographed one page letter signed by the legendary Swiss pianist, to music publisher Pierre Schneider, from his home in Neuilly-sur-Seine right outside of Paris, July 6, 1945.  We offer with the transmittal envelope which is also signed on the verso.

….Please find attached a crossed check list to your order, regulating our account to today’s date in accordance with your statement of June 30th……

Cortot (1877-1962) had a mixed reputation during World War II.  He had cancelled concerts in Germany in 1933 and swore to his friends he would not play in any German concert halls.  In 1939 he cancelled an engagement in Italy after the racial purity laws were instated by the fascists after Mussolini aligned with Hitler.  His estranged wife was Jewish and he had a number of close Jewish friends throughout his life, but all of that changed when he aligned himself with the Vichy Regime after the Germans invaded France in 1940.  (Though there are rumors he helped several Jewish musicians escape.)  Cortot saw his political fortunes rise in the Vichy regime when he was made President of the Comité d’Organisation Professionelle de la Musique in 1942. (Known as the Comité Cortot)  The same year he also played performances in Paris in various propaganda efforts for the Nazi’s.  In July of 1942 he went to Berlin and played with the Berlin Philharmonic.  In June of 1944 after the Allies freed France and the Vichy Regime was dismantled, Cortot was removed from his position.  September of 1944 he was arrested and charged with his involvement with the Vichy Regime.  He was convicted and released by the Comités d’Épuration in April of 1945 due to the intersession of the President of the Conservatoire National, Claude Delvincourt who spoke on his behalf regarding Cortot’s dedication to French culture.  However, his ability to make a professional living at any French arts institution was revoked for a year.  A further hearing in July, 1945 by the  le Conseil d’Enquête de l’Administration des Beaux-Arts confirmed the sentence.  Our letter written in July too a less than glamorous music publisher clearly shows that Cortot was doing anything he could to make a living with his ban in place.  Pierre Schneider who published Editions du Magasin Musical Pierre Schneider was a low brow publisher of rather unknown composers and editions of well known works, chiefly for the piano.  His music publisher, Senart would have nothing to do with him, eventually he would move on to other publishers once his ban was over.  That said, Cortot did make a European concert tour in 1946 after the ban was over in April, but was rejected by the musicians of the Concerts du Conservatoire in 1947, having received an invitation to perform by Delvincourt.  His name was also removed from the musicians union in France.  Cortot went back to Switzerland in 1947 and never performed publicly again in France.

An interesting letter at the lowest point in Cortot’s professional career.                                     One’s choices in life have consequences.