GOTTSCHALK, Louis M. (1829-1869), American composer, pianist. Autograph letter signed (''Gottschalk''), to [Major] Pond, Buffalo, 18 July, n.y. 1 page, 8vo, personal stationery.
GOTTSCHALK, Louis M. (1829-1869), American composer, pianist. Autograph letter signed ("Gottschalk"), to [Major] Pond, Buffalo, 18 July, n.y. 1 page, 8vo, personal stationery.
A RARE AUTOGRAPH LETTER FROM A FAMOUS AND COLORFUL AMERICAN COMPOSER. Gottschalk asks Pond--who is almost certainly the theatrical impresario, James Burton Pond--"Could you play the ojos criollos? I would like very much that they should be made known in Rochester. Have them in my programme if possible for the last piece of first part." The composer is referring to his Ojos Criollos, Danse Cubaine (Creole Eyes, Cuban Dance), one of many works inspired by the rhythms of Central and South America. Gottschalk was himself a cultural hybrid. Born in New Orleans to a London Jewish merchant father and a Catholic Cajun mother, he was a piano prodigy and went to study in Paris in the 1840s. He performed to great acclaim throughout Europe and in New York during the 1850s, but he was repeatedly drawn to Cuba and South America, where he found his most enthusiastic audiences--and the richest sources for his own compositions. His symphony Las nuits des tropiques debuted in Havana in 1860 but did not receive its New York performance until the 1950s. In 1862 he returned to New York, declared himself a strong Union man, and gave a series of concerts consisting of patriotic Union pieces, as well as his own works. Lincoln was a fan and attended his concerts in Washington. A sex scandal with a student in San Francisco forced him to return to South America where his fame and popularity was greater than ever. A burst appendix claimed his life in 1869. No autograph letter of Gottschalk has come onto the market in the last 30 years.