Manuscripts/Mixed Material Letter from Aaron Copland to his parents, October 11, 1921.
Download: ( Complete: XML )
Oct 11, 1921
207 Bd. Raspail
Dear Ma & Pa, --
I really ought to be sending you a cablegram with this wonderful news, but I was afraid it would scare you. Just think, I have just sold my first composition. Let me catch my breath and tell you the whole story. I wrote you that M. Durand, the biggest publisher in Paris, had promised to publish a piece of mine called "The Cat and the Mouse" after he had heard me play it at Fontainebleau. Well, I have just been to see him at his office here and have sold him the piece outright for 500 francs. I signed a contract with him and he has promise to have the piece ready in about 2 or 3 weeks, at which time I will send you a copy. Try to remember that in pre-war times, 500 francs was equal to $100. which is an extraordinary price to pay a young, unknown composer for a little piece of 5 pages. Then Durand is a very well-known publisher all over the world, so it gives one a reputation merely to be published by him. A great deal of the credit is due to Fontainebleau and the school as I could never have accomplished so much in so short a time without all that influence helping me. What will Goldmark and Adler have to say when I send them copies? Its too bad I am not able to play the piece for you, but you'll have to wait until I get home, unless some one plays it in N.Y. by some wild chance. Of course, this is only a beginning. One doesn't get exactly famous simply because he has written one piece which is printed. But it is a start. And the 500 francs tickles me silly, even if it isn't a fortune.
I sent the letter of introduction that Alma Harwood gave me to her aunt and got an immediate reply inviting me to meet her in a box at the Opera. So your darling son calmly put on his very exciting tuxedo and marched gaily to the opera. Miss Florance (the aunt's name) is about 45 I judge, and was very nice to me. She is the sort of person one must know in order to meet other really interesting people. She has invited me to her house this Sunday and I have promised to play for her. Thats the least I can do for anyone who gives me the best seat I've ever had at any opera performance.
I read in the papers that you've already had snow in New York. Just think, here we are having beautiful summer weather. Harold and I always eat at restaurants in real European style. There is one place where you can get a meal for 6 francs which is exactly like the meal I remember having at Lorber's when it was on Grand Street. Tell Lil French cooking is delicious, particularly when you know how to order something besides omelettes.
So, we have a composer in the Copland family, it seems. Who says there are no more miracles.