Manuscripts/Mixed Material Letter from Aaron Copland to Carlos Chávez, October 31, 1928.
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223 W. 78 St. New York
Oct 31 1928
Dear Carlos --
I waited several days since seeing Agea before answering the letter he brought me from you, hoping against hope that something would turn up to save me from appearing like an altogether ungrateful wretch. But nothing has. I feel as if heaven and earth were being moved to bring me to Mexico City and I do nothing about it. In reality, this is not so. I really understand and appreciate how much you want me there and it makes me very sad not to be able to say: 'coming.' The reason is this: all my energies are at present directed to the winning of the Victor Prize of $25.000 and you understand how important such a sum of money is. But my orchestral work is no-where near being finished and I cannot work on it until I am through with lectures, which is not until Jan. 27 as I wrote you. In order to finish it in time, I must devote at least three months of concentrated work on it which will have to be Feb. March and April since the works must be submitted for the prize in May. (I am like a woman who is preganant and dares not travel for fear it would endanger the life of her child!) What could be nicer than the offer you make me: to see Mexico City, play my Concerto, to meet new people, to spend a week travelling back with you (which would be as great a joy as any of the others) -- all this to cost me nothing; you must think me crazy to refuse. You can be sure I think myself crazy! But this craziness is one that any composer could understand: it consists in living with one desire -- to finish a work which is incomplete. If I went to Mexico City in February it could not make me happy because the back of my mind would be saying to me always: you should be finishing your piece. This is as clear as I can make myself.
Instead of the Concerto I suggest that you give ?Music for the Theatre.? It is characteristic of me, is amusing for an audience, and the jazz parts are like an introduction to the ?Concerto? which I still hope I can play with you in your second season. I have my own original copy of the score but the Universal Edition has the parts. Write to them immediately -- if they do not answer the simplest thing will be to have the parts copied in Mexico City and I will help pay the cost. It should not be expensive because it is only for small orchestra. Of course, only do this if the Universal refuses to send the parts. In any case I will send you my copy of the score -- but don?t tell [illegible in Xerox] Universal this[?].
I am so glad you are working on an orchestral piece also. Is there any chance of showing it to Koussevitzky this season? If so, let me know, and I will mention it to him, or give it to him if you can send a copy.
Naturally we will give the 3 Mexican Pieces at the C -- S concerts. My only regret is [that] they are so short. I like the Fox very much -- or as much as I can make out of it because as you must know it is terribly difficult to play. In fact, I can't wait until I hear you play it as only you can. Our first concert will be around Christmas; the second in February. Your pieces will be in February, unless we give a third concert in April. If we do, I?ll save it until then so [as] to be sure that you are to be present at the concert. As works to play by Americans we have: 2nd String Quartet, Geo. Antheil; 'Paragraphs' for 2 violins & cello, Henry Cowell; Piano Sonata, Bernard Wagenaar, (and I hope one from Roy [Harris]); Songs, Blitzstein etc. From young Europeans: Sonatina for piano, N. Lopatnikoff; Songs, Dukelsky; Sonata for violin & flute, Conrad Beck. Roger has nothing of his own, but I may perform my own song 'As it fell upon a day.' I need more music if we are to give three concerts.
Has Paul R[osenfeld] sent you his book? It contains an article on each of us, side by side. I do not believe I like either article overmuch, but after all, they are both serious attempts to evaluate our music so we mustn't kick.
Why don't you write to Minna Lederman to ask her to do the publicity you need? I doubt if she will refuse if you ask her personally. Or possibly, someone like Miss Brenner could do the actual work and Minna could advise how, where and when to send it out. Or possibly, you could have all the material written and typed in Mexico City and Minna could send it out for you up here.
I am quite busy with my lectures now. But New York is pretty dull: no one is here -- Roger, Roy, Henry, Varese, are all gone; so is Mrs. Wertheim and no parties chez Mrs. Walton. Also no interesting music so far. Koussevitzky is to play 'Appollo' at his first concert -- too bad you will miss it.
So you can be sure I miss you and wish you were coming back soon.
With best luck for the concerts