2 pp. 12mo. (ca. 90 x 115 mm.). Dated Ongi Ethori, St-Jean-De-Luz, August 27, 13. On a card with Ravel's address printed at head. In French (with translation).
An important letter about the Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé and Ravel's deteriorating relationship with Claude Debussy. Ravel has just finished the third setting, and discusses the controversy that may ensue with Debussy, who is setting two of the same Mallarmé texts. In other news, the publisher Jacques Durand will accept Roland-Manuel's biography of Ravel, with an analysis of Ravel's music by [Émile] Vuillermoz.
"I have just finished 'Surgi de la croupe.' We will soon witness a Debussy-Ravel match. The other day, our publisher sent me a desperate letter, because [Edmond] Bonniot refused the authorization for 'Soupir' and 'Placet futile,' which Debussy had just set to music. I have settled everything." Orenstein: A Ravel Reader, p. 140.
Together with a waist-length postcard photograph of Ravel seated at the piano published by the Library of Congress.
Slightly worn and creased.
"In 1913, Debussy and Ravel each set three poems of Mallarmé to music. Through an amazing coincidence, two of their three poems were the same. Ravel asked Dr. [Edmond] Bonnoit [Mallarmé's son-in-law and the executor of his estate] for permission to utilize the poet's texts, and the required authorization was granted promptly. A short time later, when Dr. Bonniot was approached by Jacques Durand with a similar request, he agreed to the publication of Debussy's setting of 'Eventail,' but refused 'Soupir' and 'Placet futile,' whose rights had just been granted to Ravel. All ended well, however, as Ravel managed to convince Dr. Bonniot to reconsider, a gesture which is typical of his probity and good will." Orenstein: A Ravel Reader, p. 141.
The recipient, Roland-Manuel (1891-1966), was a French composer and writer on music. A lifelong friend of Ravel, he wrote several monographs on the composer and his music, including Maurice Ravel et son oeuvre (Paris, 1914, 2/1925), to which this letter likely refers. Of the fraught relationship between Ravel and Debussy, Manuel writes: "Ravel knew Debussy personally, and at the beginning their relationship was excellent. Although they were never intimate friends, they were at least good friends for a great many years. Because it gave him pleasure, and because he wished to pay hommage to a man of genius, Ravel transcribed for two pianos the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, a work which he never tired of calling a masterpiece. 'He knew and sincerely admired Debussy,' wrote Louis Laloy in La Musique retrouvée. 'I did everything in my power to prevent a break between them, but too many stupid meddlers seemed to take pleasure in making it inevitable, by sacrificing, for example Debussy's Quartet on the altar of Ravel's, or by raising absurd questions about the priority of the Habañera and the second of the Estampes. The two composers then stopped visiting each other; and as their respect for each other was entirely mutual, I can vouch for the fact that they both regretted the rupture.' " Roland-Manuel: Maurice Ravel, pp. 35-36. Item #23420
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