Manuscripts/Mixed Material Letter from Aaron Copland to Paul Bowles, October 24, 1934.
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Hubbard Woods, Ill.
Oct 24 '34
The card that came this morning was the coup de grâce. For weeks I'd been telling V. how we were neglecting you frightfully. And he agreed. Every day I've been saying that we really must write. And he agreed. Why we didn't will be clear presently. It had nothing to do with Africa. I understand the attractions of Africa and I'm sure you know the disadvantages, so I took it for granted that you went with both eyes open. These are difficult times for young composers, and I'm sure its better to eat in Africa than starve in N.Y. So theres no reason for 'disapproving' as you seem to suggest -- only the natural desire to have you back soon wher I can look at you.
The reason for the long spell of silence was a ballet. Out of a clear sky, toward the end of August, Ruth Page who is a dancer in Chicago asked me to do a ballet for her to be ready by Nov 1. To talk it over V and I drove to Duluth and took a train from there to Chi. After a week, I had signed on the dotted line and have been working like a Trojan ever since. We dashed back to Bemidji and stayed there until about Oct 4. In those 5 weeks the music was done almost entirely. You can see I worked fast. Its 40 minutes long -- not all new -- I've used some of the early ballet in it. Now we are staying out at Miss Page's country place on Lake Michigan and I'm orchestrating and orchestrating. The ballet is to be put on at the Chicago Opera on Nov 23. Page did the scenario and a Russian by the name of Remisoff the sets and costumes. The scene is a law court -- the first dance that of the Prosecuting Attorney. The whole thing is a satire on justice and how she functions. If it goes over they'll take it on tour to lots of small cities, which would be fun.
Thats why, you see, there was no time to write anyone. And you being so far away
I received the Stein songs. I'm curious to know how they happened to be published. You never wrote a word about all that. Why, I wonder, of all your things, did you print those two little things. I have no doubt Kalmus will 'handle' some for you. That is, he'll put them on his counter probably, and they'll collect dust with all the Cos Cob things. Its surprising how little 'modern' music he does sell. I doubt whether Schirmers would take many copies. Write to Kalmus if you like and say I suggested it. Or should I talk to him for you?
The Cos Cob Song Volume has been delayed by my not being in N.Y. When I get back -- which should be around Nov. 1 -- I'll try to get it out finally. But you have never written a word about whether or not you got permission to use that poem of yours. Dare I go ahead just the same?
I've just reread all your letters and p.cards. But they only tell what you have been doing -- and I'd like to know what you're doing now. Write me a nice, long, explicit, letter and say what you're up to in Fez. Describe your 'duties,' as your mother called them. Have you a piano there? Are you writing anything new? As soon as this damn ballet is finished I promise you a really long letter in return.
Chicago is all agog about the opening of 'Four Saints' which takes place on the 7th. I hear Virgil is coming, and perhaps G.S.
Love and kisses
P.S. Address me at 55 St.