Academic journal article Notes

From Copenhagen and Paris: A Stravinsky Photograph-Autograph at the University of British Columbia

Academic journal article Notes

From Copenhagen and Paris: A Stravinsky Photograph-Autograph at the University of British Columbia

Article excerpt

Heeding a call in the introduction to my catalog of the new Stravinsky collection at the University of British Columbia (UBC) some nine months even before its publication, (1) and upon my recommendation, Kirsten Walsh, librarian of the university's School of Music, acquired on 4 July 2001 a newspaper photograph (8.8 cm X 7.6 cm including margins) of the composer (1882-1971) accompanying his autograph musical quotation on a sheet of paper, 13.4 cm X 22.7 cm (fig. 1). This purchase nicely complements the 123 items in the collection I recently donated to UBC. The library acquired the photo-autograph from Lisa Cox, dealer in rare and antiquarian music in Devon, England, who described it as an "autograph musical quotation, signed and dated Paris, 27th November 1935. A clearly penned quotation in dark ink, extending from the margin of a small newspaper portrait...attached to an 8vo leaf." (2) Cox's catalog had no illustration, and she neither furnished the item's provenance nor identified its musical quotation, wh ich has no dedication. These several (and then unknown) parameters made the acquisition at Cox's price quite attractive.

Irregular trimming on the right side of this newspaper photograph is one of several clues about the photograph and its musical quotation. The most obvious clue, however, is that the reverse side of the photograph has text in Danish. Although incomplete because of trimming, this news story twice mentions in italics Politiken, a liberal Copenhagen newspaper, (3) and three times it names Denmark's finance minister, H. P. Hansen (1872-1953), who held this position from 1933 to 1937 in Premier Thorvald Stauning's socialist government. (4)

The story of this newspaper photograph of Stravinsky really begins on the evening of 22 March 1934 when a Danish photographer, Herbert Davidsen, took a double image: Stravinsky at the right, and at the left his fellow Russian, the conductor Nicolai Malko (1883-1961), following their joint radio concert in Copenhagen (fig. 2). The double photograph first appeared only six years later, unsigned but credited to Davidsen, in an issue of the Musical Courier of mid-January 1940, when both men were in the United States. (5)

During the 1930s Davidsen often took photographs for the other big Danish newspaper (one more politically to the right), Dagens nyheder (Daily News).6 On four occasions during 1935 this newspaper ran the right half of Davidsen's photograph with Stravinsky alone--his left hand and cigarette holder cropped. It first appeared on the front page of Dagens nyheder on 14 April 1935, showing a little more of the composer s dress shirt and now signed by the photographer as "Davidsen / fot." The newspaper and Stravinsky's Danish publisher, Wilhelm Hansen, were jointly sponsoring his forthcoming orchestral concert in Copenhagen on 9 May. (Incidentally, this April front page also contains at the lower right a photograph of H. P. Hansen, the government official cited above on the reverse side of UBG's photo.) Sometime between Davidsen's double image of Stravinsky with Malko on 22 March 1934 and this first solo version of Stravinsky in Dagens nyheder, the photographer cropped his original double portrait. He printed just i ts right side, and then signed the resulting single portrait.

Dagens nyheder ran the same Stravinsky photograph for a second time on 16 July 1935. An accompanying essay about migraine by a certain "Hr. Nat-og-Dag" (Mr. Night and Day) reports the hitherto unknown--and perhaps apocryphal--information that "Stravinsky once told me that he always has migraine pain the day he conducts a big concert. While conducting, the pain sometimes disappears, but afterwards, as a rule, it returns again." (7)

On 11 September 1935, Dagens nyheder again used Davidsen's photograph, this third time with an essay by the newspaper's regular music critic, Gunnar Hauch, about Stravinsky's settings of tales by Hans Christian Andersen: The Nightingale and The Fairy's Kiss. …

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