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601   Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Autograph Letter Signed  $300 $330 $363 2 You must login to place a bid.
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#601 - Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Autograph Letter Signed Estimate: $5,000+

Rare Rimsky-Korsakov handwritten letter on musical matters

ALS in Russian, signed “N. A. Korsakov,” one page, 5.25 x 8.5, September 14, 1903. Handwritten letter to Vasily Ilyich, in part (translated): "I did not have the time or inclination. I came back to Saint Petersburg and found an old romance. I am ready to send it to you but waiting your response (not in the form of a poem) that you forgot to write: do I have any rights to pass this romance on to whomever I want after 2 years. I presume it will not hurt your publication because after 2 years nobody would buy it. I will mail it to you as soon as I receive a positive answer…with a poem." In fine condition, with a small chip to the bottom edge. Accompanied by an unrelated envelope addressed in Rimsky-Korsakov’s hand to Ivan Ivanovich Sidorov care of the Russian composer Boris Lvovich Levenzon.

At the time of our letter, Rimsky-Korsakov was working on his four-act opera The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya. He had first become interested in adapting two Russian legends in 1898 while working on The Tale of Tsar Saltan with his friend, poet, and librettist Vladimir I. Belsky, with whom he also wrote The Golden Cockerel. Although Belsky had begun his work on City of Kitezh in 1901, Rimsky-Korsakov became exasperated with his slow progress, chiding him through letters and poems. In September 1902, Rimsky-Korsakov wrote to Belsky, and included in the letter a quatrain from a satirical poem by the fictitious wordsmith Kozma Prutkov, which he altered in jest to read: ‘The leaf withers / Summer passes / Wet snow falls / For want of a libretto / I could shoot myself.’ Rimsky-Korsakov received the draft scenario of the Legend of Kitezh (from Belsky) on July 13, 1903.

The recipient is ostensibly Russian pianist, conductor, composer, and teacher Vasily Ilyich Safonov (1852-1918), who directed the Moscow Conservatory and conducted the premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony.

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