Manuscripts/Mixed Material Letter from Aaron Copland to Carlos Chávez, August 15, 1930.
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Aug 15 '30
Dear Carlos --
I cant tell you how happy it made me to receive your very affectionate letter. Sometimes I could not help feeling that you had become so absorbed in your work in Mexico that you forgot me and ll the friends you have here. But now I see it is not true -- now I see you do miss me and the rest, which makes me very glad. Your letter made me feel very close to you, as if all the time we were separated was very little. Carlos, my boy, you relly must try to come to New york in January. I have a great desire to see you again -- and letters are such poor substitutes.
I have always had one principal concern for you -- because of your half a dozen activities as director, conductor etc. you would stop composing. Now I see it begins to worry you also and -- that is good! Is there no solution for this difficult problem? Is there no-one in Mexico who can help you run the school so that you have some time for your composition work? Before everything else, you are a composer. Which means you will never be happy until you have the time to compose. Of course, you know all this. But I want you to know that I know it too and that I am waiting impatiently for you to find the solution. So I was glad to hear that you had made a beginning with the two more ?Mexican Pieces? and the new orchestral work
Its clear you are hungry for news so I will put you au courant of what has been doing.
As for myself, more and more I have been able to put aside every other consideration but composing. I have stopped writing articles, given as few lectures as possible, and lived in the country outside N.Y. from January to June so as to have time for myself. The only activity I have continued is the C----Sessions Concerts. The result has been not that I have written any more than usual, but that I have the necessary peace of mind for writing.
The work that I was writing for the Victor Prize (its called 'Symphonic Ode') is finished, but I finished it too late to send it in for the prize. Instead, I sent in a work called 'A Dance Symphony' which I quickly put together from my early ballet. The prize has been decided recently (though not announced publicly yet) -- the $25,000 was divided among 5 composers and I was one of them! So with $5,000 I feel rich. I don't know yet who the other 4 composers are, but there is a rumor that Bloch is one of them. This means that I am free for several years and do not have to lecture any more.
Koussevitzky was to perform the 'Ode' in March. Two weeks before the concert he told me the piece was so difficult rhythmically that he would need a summer to study it properly. So it was put off to this season and will probably be given in N.Y. in January. I am very anxious to hear it because I am sure it is by far the best thing I have done.
Just now I am working on a long piece for piano in the form of a Theme and Variations and am very pleased with the way it is going.
As for the others: Roy Harris is in California now, where he is married to a new wife. We performed his most recent work - a string quartet [-] at our concerts. Its probably his best work so far. He has a Symphony in 3 movements which you should see. It is uneven I think, but has excellent things in it.
Sessions is to be in Rome one more year. He hasn't written much[,] but the Piano Sonata -- you remember? -- is now finished and the Symphony is published by the Cos Cob Press.
Paul Rosenfeld is spending the summer with Stieglitz at Lake George, only an hour from here. I will see him soon and bring him news of you.
I suppose you must be wondering what Yaddo is! I came here to spend the summer, but I like it so much that I will stay until November. It is a very large private estate which is given over to creative artists -- something like the MacDowell Colony. I have a wonderful studio in the woods -- a Stone Tower which would make a perfect setting for an outdoor performance of the Tower Scene from Pelleas. Harold Clurman is here too.
If Yaddo had not turned out so perfectly, I should certainly have come to Mexico for Sept. and Oct. But with conditions so ideal for work (and costing nothing!) It would be a mistake to leave. You must not think that because the orchestra could not offer me a paid engagement I stay away. It would have been a pleasure to play for nothing, particularly now that I have the money for the trip. But the advantages of staying at Yaddo are so apparent that I must put the trip off for a while again. Don?t despair, Carlos, it will surely happen some day.
Which reminds me to tell you -- I played the 'Concerto' as recently as last week at the Stadium Concerts in N.Y. Coates conducted and did a good job. He speaks of arranging a performance in London in April. I expect to go to Berlin in March to see some of the new operas and to try to arrange some performances of my works in Germany -- where they have never been given. If I like it well enough I may even stay a year.
This is news enough for one letter.