[Bartók, Béla. (1881–1945)] Dukas, Paul. (1865–1935)

Autograph Letter to Prunieres, Lamenting a Missed Meeting with Bartok

Neatly penned autograph letter, one page, 5 x 6.5, no date but postmarked April 6, 1922. Addressed on the reverse in Dukas’s own hand to Henri Prunières and signed "Paul Dukas." The letter apologizes for missing a visit from the addressee and from "Monsieur Béla Bartok, whose acquaintance I would have been delighted to make. All the more so since I must respond to your kind invitation for Saturday. I have to be in Valenciennes on Sunday to help with the concert of the Societé du Conservatoire there. And if I don't take the train at 5:10 in the evening on Saturday, I will have to get up at 6:30 to leave on Sunday morning! So in this case despite all my regrets, I must excuse myself..." A scarce and rather charming letter from the French composer, critic, scholar and teacher best known for his "L'apprenti sorcier "(The Sorcerer's Apprentice) and his opera "Ariane et Barbe-bleue."

Bartok's 1922 visit to Paris was part of a larger concert tour of Britain, France, and Germany, ending with the premieres of Bluebeard’s Castle and The Wooden Prince on 13 May in Frankfurt. In Paris, he met important French composers including Francis Poulenc and Erik Satie. The Saturday soirée to which Dukas refers would have taken place just after an occasion recalled by Poulenc: "I remember a strange lunch, on [Saturday] 8 April 1922, where Bartok and Satie met at my house for the first and last time... Like two birds who do not sing the same tune, Bartok and Satie observed each other with suspicion and maintained an overwhelming silence that Auric and I tried in vain to break. For me it is an extraordinary and symbolic memory." (Quoted in Entrancing Muse: A Documented Biography of Francis Poulenc, p. 113.)

Henri Prunières (1861-1942) was a French musicologist, and international propagandist of contemporary art in various forms: music, dance, painting etc... He occupies, especially in music, an important place in the art world between the wars. His major contribution was La Revue musicale, a monthly musical periodical which he founded in 1920 and left in 1939. (14186)

Autograph Letter
Classical Music