Ornstein, Leo. (1895–2002)
Correspondence Archive to Harry Brunswick Loeb
An intriguing collection of letters from the important American composer and pianist to longtime friend Harry Brunswick Loeb, music critic and owner of a New Orleans music store, consisting of three Autograph Letters Signed and three Typed Letters Signed. The archive is predominantly undated, though evidently all of the same period, during which Ornstein, and subsequently Mr. Loeb, experienced a significant illness. We identify the first letter is a 4 pp. ALS on Piedmont Hotel, Atlanta, GA stationary, which reads in part "I have read with intense interest your review of my recital, and with your permission I will get Hanson [his manager at the time] to reproduce it. / Please let me tell you again what it has meant to meet a real personality, in these days where so few people have real courage. It is indeed stimulating." In an undated ALS (3 pp.), Ornstein writes, in part, "I have been ill in bed...hence the delay in answering your sparkling notes. / Your sister is a goddess! Beautiful beyond words, and with a lovely cool sense of articulation. You are indeed fortunate. As for your brother-in-law, he is one who has indeed been blessed—you have all been so kind to me—that words are miserable recompense, but some day– and you my dear fellow are a delight– whether discussing 'sublimated poetry' or...– You have been joy. I shall long remember my visit to NO [New Orleans] and your promise to spend some time with us in the mountains– Don't Forget. I am deathly tired and may have to give up all my concerts for the remainder of the season." In the next ALS, (Undated; 1 pp. on lined paper.), he writes in part, "I am feeling splendidly again— but no new concerts until next fall. / Remember your promise to visit us next summer...I will accept no excuses— No no no." In a letter dated June 8th, 1921 (North Conway, NH. 1 pp. on A4 paper.), Ornstein writes in part "I can't tell you how distressed I was to hear that you have been ill. I can indeed sympathize with you having so recently felt so myself...Do let me hear from you how you are and when you are going to be able to drop in on us here. It would do you a world of good...I have been working very hard lately and have been writing a lot. As you have probably heard I have left Mr. Hanson and am now under the management of Arthur Judson...Hanson was all right for getting the business but he got awfully on my nerves and I finally decided to make the change." In the final letter (July 7th, 1921; 1 pp. on A4 paper), a visit is coming together, in part "Of cou[r]se August is not too late. We will be delighted to have you." The typewriter used for the last two letters had a dysfunctional "r," and in the first of the two letters, Ornstein has written in all "r"s by hand. It would appear Mr. Loeb made a comment of some sort about this, as the final letter omits every "r" entirely, with a postscript reading, "Since you seemed to esent the inse ted s I am leaving them out and you can put them in to suit you self." Several letters mounted to scrapbook paper, mounting remnants to other, first letter tape-reinforced along left edge, second letter tape-reinforced along left edge and outer edge roughly torn, expected mailing folds, overall in good condition.
Leo Ornstein was a leading American experimental composer and pianist of the early twentieth century. His performances of works by avant-garde composers and his own innovative and even shocking pieces made him a cause celebre on both sides of the Atlantic.