Text Box: Conductor autographs


Price: sold


Extraordinary and scarce octavo two page autographed letter signed to Berlin critic Arno Huth, with major content, Paris, December 26, 1933.  We include a 1970’s 5” x 7” postcard photograph of a famous musical photograph taken in New York City in March, 1928.  The image is of Maurice Ravel is at the piano, with mezzo Eva Gauthier seated next to him, Oskar Fried to the left, conductor Manoah Leide-Tedesco center and George Gershwin on the right.

The conductor writes in translation from the German,

Dear Doctor,

Thank you for your kind letter! I hasten to answer you.

In 1927, I performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the grand opera with the Orchestre du Conservatoire! In 1928, I conducted various concerts in the Salle Pleyel with the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris. In 1930, in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, with the Straram Orchestre, I played Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Mozart's E flat major symphony. In 1933, I conducted a sound film with the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris (Liszt's 2nd Rhapsody). On January 17th, 1934, in London, I will conduct Berlioz's "Romeo et Juliette" without a single cut! Because the two orchestral movements "Romeo en Tombeau des Capulets, Invocation - Reveil de Juliette - Joie délirante, désespoir, Dernières Angoisses, et mort des deux amants", which unfortunately have hardly ever been played, because Berlioz himself recommended not to play them. These pieces, which are 100 years old, are the most harrowing thing one can hear, I would congratulate anyone alive today, admire him, if he could write something like that which would still be so alive after 100 years.

In March I will conduct almost 20 concerts in almost all the larger cities, Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkiv, Tbilisi, Kyiv, Odessa. I will also perform my own works.
What I didn't want to be said, I didn't even write down! But what I want to have said is that the film should finally address me as a composer and as a conductor; I think I can do something really great for the future film! I believe that entrepreneurs can also make money with good compositions. One should try it! A little courage "It is the first steps that cost"!

 Respectfully, sincerely

Oskar Fried


Fried (1871 - 1941), Gustav Mahler’s disciple and perhaps the greatest conductor of his time, writes this letter at a turning point in his career.  He had made the bulk of his career in Berlin and with the rise of the Nazi Party in 1933, Fried despite being the Direktor of the Gesellschafter der Musik Berlin, Musikdirektor of the Blüthner Orchester  and frequent guest conductor at the Berlin Philharmoniker and the various opera houses of Berlin became persona non grata due to his religion.  He left for Paris, never to return to Germany in his lifetime.  Many texts claim he left for The Soviet Union in 1933, which is not the case, as one can see from this letter, he was in Western Europe until at least March of 1934.  We have verified the Berlioz “Romeo et Juliette” did in fact take place in London on January 17th, 1934, with contralto Enid Szantho, tenor Parry Jones and Fried leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra. 


Fried’s career was a series of important events, particularly the “firsts”.  What many people do know is there is reason he was known as “Mahler’s Disciple”.  The conductor met Gustav Mahler for the first time in 1905, which led to an invitation to conduct the 2nd Symphony in Berlin with Mahler assisting and providing feedback in the rehearsals and Fried’s assistant Otto Klemperer leading the back stage orchestra.  A noted success, Fried early on was perhaps Mahler’s most prolific conductors.  He also was the first to record a Mahler symphony, the 2nd in 1924 with the Berlin Staatsoper Orchester. In 1906, he led the first performance of a Mahler symphony in Russia, also the 2nd in St. Petersburg in a Siloti Concert. In 1906, Mahler offered him the Berlin premiere of his 6th symphony and in 1913, he was given the honor of the Berlin premiere of Mahler’s 9th Symphony; the second performance after the Vienna Premiere. Fried also did much of Polydor’s heavy symphonic lifting, making the first complete recorded performances of some of the greatest Romantic works of the 19th Century in addition to the Mahler 2nd in 1924, he also recorded the same year, the first performance of record of Strauss’s “Eine Alpensinfonie and Bruckner’s 7th Symphony. (He also recorded an outstanding Brahms 1st and Beethoven 3rd at this time.  The Beethoven was the first complete recording of the work.) In 1928 he made a series of legendary recordings, Beethoven’s 9th, Liszt’s “Les Preludes” and “Mazeppa” and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.  The problem for Fried’s reputation are all of his commercial recordings were made in the late 1920’s were pre-electric recordings and therefore were recorded with abridged orchestras and whilst they have been issued on CD and digitally, they do not have the advantage of the electric recordings which made both Furtwängler and Toscanini world famous.  We do have one Soviet radio broadcast of a Symphonie Fantastique in 1937 which clearly shows his dynamic reading of the piece.


Fried was also a composer, however, despite writing quality Romantic classical music, his reputation like Weingartner’s does not rest on his compositions.  His choice to go to the Soviet Union, rather than England, or the United States doomed the latter part of his career to obscurity outside of Russia.  He did in fact arrive in Russia in March of 1934 and toured the major cities of the Soviet Union initially and then becoming the Director of the Tiflis Opera.  What is interesting is, he did return to England in 1935 and 1937 to conduct, however, his life was now in Russia.  Eventually in 1937 he was made Chief Conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, the most important Orchestra in Moscow and really in those days, The Soviet Union.  Mravinsky was to take over the Lenigrand Philharmonic in 1938, but his reputation did not become great until after the War.  Fried died in Moscow, having taken his citizenship that year and the year the Nazi’s invaded.


One of the finest content letters we have seen by a conductor, let alone musician.  Telling, as he has escaped Nazi Germany and is writing to a well known former Berlin music critic and musicologist and fellow Jew, Dr.  Arno Huth and does not mention looking back once. 


Phone: 212-860-5541