Barber, Samuel. (1910–1981)
Signed Photograph to Ralph Berkowitz
Superb early right-facing bust doubleweight photograph of the dashing young American composer and conductor, signed and inscribed "To my good friend Ralph / Sam / West Chester / March '37." The recipient and dedicatee of the photograph was American composer and pianist Ralph Berkowitz, who with cellist Felix Salmond, performed Barber's Cello Sonata on March 7, 1937 at a surprise party arranged by Mary Curtis Bok for Barber's twenty-seventh birthday (Barbara Heyman, "Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music," p. 115). Signed photographs of Barber are extremely rare and desirable and this is a particularly early and remarkable example with a wonderful association. 8 x 10 inches. Light wear to margins, overall very fine.
In 1927, Ralph Berkowitz enrolled at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where he befriended Barber and later became a member of the teaching staff. In 1940, a few years after the present inscription, Berkowitz became accompanist for Gregor Piatigorsky, with whom he appeared until the cellist's death in 1976. From 1946 to 1951, Berkowitz served as an executive assistant to Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood and later became Dean of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in 1951, a position he held until 1961.