Bartók, Béla. (1881–1945)
Signed Letter about Hungary in WWII and The Commission of the Arts and Sciences of Independent Hungary
2-page TLS, signed "Bartok Bela." October 27, 1942. In Hungarian, an important letter addressed to the Hungarian-born composer and publisher, Albert Szirmay, who had emigrated to New York in 1923 and took a post as music director for Chappell Music, becoming editor for such Broadway luminaries as Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. The letter concerns Hungary's role in WWII and Bartok's involvement as Chair of the Committee of Hungarian Scientists and Artists. Mentioning "the fateful fight carried out against the dictator" and lamenting that "the Hungarian government has declared war on the Axis side of the democracies," he knows that "President Roosevelt...you are on our side" and states that "in this situation...the representatives of Hungarian culture, who in America our principled beliefs are free to declare," must speak for the "the millions of Hungarians who are struggling." He goes on to invite Szirmay to join the newly formed Committee and a retained copy of Szirmay's letter of acceptance is included together with the original letter from Bartok. 8.5 x 11 inches, minor toning and a small tear along one of the original folds, else fine.
A devoted patriot to his country, Bartok was devastated when Hungary sided with Germany in the years leading up to WWII. His anti-fascist political views caused him a great deal of trouble with the establishment in Hungary resulting is his emigration to New York in the 1930s. While in New York, he continued to compose and worked for Columbia University on fellowship until his death in 1945 from leukemia.