Autograph Album - Composers

AUTOGRAPH ALBUM – COMPOSERS. ‘Autographes de compositeurs célebres’, autograph musical quotations signed by composers and musicians, most inscribed to Isaac Léon, Paris, 1892 – 1906. 

51 leaves in total (265 x 405mm), (ff.1-10 detached, card occasionally chipped or worn at edges, especially bottom corner with small losses, spotting throughout, occasional surface soiling). Painted leather binding (top and bottom boards detached, spine detached). Provenance: Isaac Léon (to whom many of the inscriptions are made out) – Christian A. Zabriskie (Metropolitan Opera Guild bookplate).

Illuminated title page, long autograph musical quotations (usually for voice and piano) signed by 72 composers, musicians, conductors and others, including: Giuseppe VERDI ('Tutto nel mundo è burla' from Falstaff, melody only, Paris, 25 April 1892), Giacomo PUCCINI ('recondita armonia' from Tosca, 8 bars, 2 June 1898, signed twice), Richard STRAUSS (11 bars in short score from Ein Heldenleben, Paris, 6 March 1900), Charles GOUNOD (the 'Ballade du Roi de Thulé' from Faust, 8 bars, signed twice), Ignaz PADEREWSKI (25 bars, 'Fantaisie Polonaise', May 1899), Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (5 bars from La bohème, Paris, 12 October 1899, with a signed photograph), Umberto Giordano (two bars from Siberia, Paris, 6 May 1905), Jules Massenet (5 bars from Werther, 1892), Camille Saint-Saëns (themes from four works, Paris, July 1892, inscribed to Isaac Léon), Gabriel Fauré (from Lydia), Isaac Albéniz (Paris, 11 March 1906), Gustave Charpentier, Ambroise Thomas, Lorenzo Perosi, Édouard Lalo, Felix Mottl, Eugène Ysaÿe, André Messager, Vincent d’Indy, Alphonse Duvernoy and others, also including more substantial contributions from Théodore Dubois (17 bars from Circé), Victorin Joncières (21 bars from Lancelot), André Wormser (49 bars from Don Quichotte), Augusta Holmès (23 bars, Le Chant de l'Ange Israfel) and Hector Salomon (64 bars from Bianca Capello). On printed album leaves featuring decorative frames – almost always containing a contemporary photograph of the composer, these occasionally signed – and 9 or 11 staves per page.

A snapshot of fin-de-siècle Parisian musical society, comprising autograph musical quotations supplied by some of the most celebrated composers of the age: this remarkable album serves as a guide to the French opera scene and its associated members at the end of the 19th century.

The unknown lover of music, Isaac Léon, to whom many of the quotations are inscribed, seems to have compiled his album in more than one campaign: after an initial effort in 1892, distinct periods of activity can be observed in the dating of the quotations. After more than a decade, however, he had amassed a significant collection of autograph material, including some of the most renowned names in 19th-century France from the world of opera and classical music.

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