Archive of the Algerian-born French operatic mezzo-soprano and concert singer Sonia Chalon, first-prize winner in the Concours Comoedia 1925 in Paris: correspondence with Renaldo Hahn, Georges Migot, Camille Saint-Saëns and others, miscellaneous memorabilia including press clippings, photographs, performance accoutrements, scores, and books
From the collection of Chalon's niece, the French-born pianist Madeleine Forte, wife of the noted Yale musicologist Allen Forte. AUTOGRAPH LETTERS, NOTES, &c. IN CHALON'S HAND- Autograph letter signed, July 27, 1975, to Madeleine. In French- Typed letter signed, December 1, 1977 authorizing Forte to use all of the material that was part of their piano lessons since 1941 "as she wishes." In English.- 2 autograph postcards signed, 1971, to Madeleine and her then-husband, William Hsu. In French- 4 miscellanous notes, including recipes- Typescript of a story entitled "La Sirene" by Chalon with manuscript corrections and annotations, October 26, 1939LETTERS AND NOTES TO CHALONincluding 3 of Reynaldo Hahn, 3 of Georges Migot, and 1 of Camille Saint-Saëns- Beringer, E. Autograph letter singed, November 10, 1914.- Chapeau, Lyse (singer and teacher in Oran, Algeria). Printed visiting card with autograph note; autograph note- Cromweed, Frederick Durfee (tenor and pianist, 1900-?). Autograph letter signed praising Chalon, June 15, 1943: "Her art is indeed profound, and her prowess as a pianist and facility as a composer bespeak volumes of accomplishment." - Eselauy, Georges (President of the Association Amicale des Artistes Africains). Two autograph letters signed, April 24, 1911 and May 5, 1921.- Hahn, Reynaldo (1874-1947). 3 autograph letters with autograph envelopes and one autograph postcard, all to Chalon in Oran, Algeria and in French (with translations):1. 1 page. Paris. Postmarked March 31, 1927. Hahn thanks Chalon for her letter which he is passing on to friends. " I am distressed by the sad reason that made you hasten to see her," and sends his condolences. 2. 2 pp. Postmarked February 4, 1932. Hahn thanks Chalon for sending something to him and comments on the exclusion of female voices in religious music: "Why should feminine voices be excluded from religious music? In the old days they were not. It is Pope Pius X who, submitting to radical influences, has changed all that." 3. 1 page. Postmarked February 9, 1934. Hahn advises Chalon to enter the competition and asks her to "try to find out the names of the members of the jury" and let him know. 4. Postcard. Postmarked January 1938. Sending greetings. - Le Fleu, Paul (composer in the circle of Paul Dukas). Autograph letter signed, dated November 4, 1962.- Lemaine. Autograph letter signed dated July 4, 1917. - Lhevinne, Rosina (Russian-American pianist and teacher, 1880-1976). Autograph note on a Christmas card, 1968- Migot, Georges (1891-1976). 3 autograph letters with autograph envelopes, all to Chalon in Oran and in French (with translations):1. 1 p. Paris, July 11, 1935. Migot is sending Chalon a book that includes a catalogue of his works, recommends "Poèmes du Brugnon" to her and closes by sending her his "artistic fellow-feeling." Split at lower portion of central fold. 2. 1 page. Postmarked Paris, July 1, 1939. "Your modesty is too great since it is only through the Argus that I learned of your admiration for some of my songs." He thanks Chalon, and sends "artistic fellow feelings." 3. 1 page. Genève, February 28, 1937. Migot thanks Chalon for her note, which he has received in Geneva where a work of his is being performed, stating: "I send my thanks for the lovely victory won by your talent on behalf of my Brugnon" and expressing the hope that he will hear her play it one day. - Regina, Albert (President of the Société Musicale in Oran, Algeria). Printed visiting card with autograph note.- Saint-Saëns, Camille. Autograph letter signed. 1 page. Paris, November 3 [no year]. To Chalon in Oran. The composer thanks Chalon for sending roses: "Your charming roses have arrived in perfect condition, and so fresh that one imagines smelling their perfume. They will beautify my home while reminding me of you." - Comoedia (Paris journal of the arts), 1925- The Conservatoire in Oran (Algiers), 1955- Consulate General of Belgium, 1953- The Education Ministry of Paris, 1954- Orléansville, Algiers town offices, 1951- The Red Cross of Algiers acknowledging a gift, 1954- Union "Les Mutilés," Oran, 1921MISCELLANEOUS MEMORABILIA, INCLUDING PROGRAMS, PRESS CLIPPINGS, &c. - Identification cards for the Association of African Artists, the Institution of Patriotic Arts, and the Conservatoire- A collection of over 100 press clippings relative to Chalon's career, performances, etc., ca. 1920-1950- Cards announcing Chalon's recitals - 17 programs for performances by Chalon in Oran, 1920s-40sPHOTOGRAPHS- 37 original photographs from both Chalon's professional and private life together with several images from magazines. Various sizesPERFORMANCE ACCOUTREMENTSGroup of props used by Chalon while performing, some of which are depicted in one or more of the accompanying photographs, as follows: - A decorative fan- A pair of earrings- A pair of Spanish castanets- A tortoise shell comb (two teeth broken) with large decorative brass attachment inset with coloured glass - An embroidered ivory silk shawl- Three medals, including one of the French Red CrossSCORESApproximately 50 pieces from Chalon's library, primarily vocal sheet music, some with her performance markings. Composers include Debussy (including a first edition of "Le Promenoir des deux Amants," Migot (one piece with autograph inscription from Migot to Chalon), Ravel, Fauré and Milhaud. BOOKS- Hahn, Reynaldo. Du Chant. Paris: Pierre Lafitte. Octavo. Quarter calf with marbled boards. 220 pp. Browned. With Chalon's initials to foot of spine and her autograph notes to front free endpaper. - [Migot]. Pinchard, Max. Connaissance de Georges Migot Musicien Français. Paris: Les Éditions Ouvrières . Octavo. Wrappers. With lengthy autograph inscription to Chalon from Migot to front free endpaper.
Chalon, born in Algeria, first came to Paris in 1925 and had an active performing career both there and in her native country; she took up permanent residence in Paris in ca. 1960. She has not received much attention from music biographers perhaps due, in part, to the fact that her career was centered in French Algeria. It is evident, however, from the many press clippings, etc., in the present collection that she had quite a successful career, confirmed by her connection to a number of leading contemporary composers (Hahn, Migot, Saint-Saëns, etc.), with whom she corresponded, some of whose works she performed. An interesting archive with numerous cross-cultural connections.
Item ID: 21757