KOCHNO, Boris (1904-1990). A large collection of autograph manuscripts including memoirs, notes and literary sketches, letters addressed to Kochno by various correspondents, typed letters and libretti, photographs and drawings, c.1924-1967, most relating to Kochno's artistic directorship of the Ballets russes de Monte Carlo, some earlier items referring to Diaghilev's company, altogether approximately 300 pages, mostly 4to.
The collection includes:
Autograph manuscripts and fragments recalling Diaghilev's Ballets russes and Colonel Wassily de Basil's Ballets russes de Monte Carlo, particularly in New York during World War II ('Le bateau qui emportait la troupe des Ballets russes de Monte Carlo vers les Etats-Unis quittait la France la veille de la declaration de la guerre'); a recollection of the ballet school in St Petersburg; memories of dancers and artists including 'le premier et seul decor que Mat[isse] fit pour le th[eatre] ... le Ross[ignol] de Str[avinsky] que D[iaghilev] lui commanda en 1917' (blaming the failure of the ballet on Matisse's monochrome sets and costumes); Christian Bérard's first meeting with Diaghilev; Kochno's collaboration with Roland Petit who, in Paris during the war, grew up with the dated productions of the Académie nationale de Danse and unaware of the names of Massine, Nijinska and Balanchine; anecdotes of Léonide Massine (in one continuing to dance in a New York production after fracturing a bone); an amusing vignette of Garbo's visit to the ballet: 'Un soir G.G. est venu au Metrop. Op. voir les B. de M.C. Elle portait un chapeau en feutre ... au moment ou le rideau deroulait, elle se precipita vers la sortie ... a ce moment un j[eune] h[omme], un collecteur d'autogs ... se dirige vers G.G. et lui dit -- Madame, si vous etes une danseuse, voulez vous me donner votre autographe -- Je ne suis pas danseuse, repondit G.G. -- Je vous demande pardon dit le j.h. et decu, en s'eloignait'; Kochno also reflects on his work: 'Mon metier? Avant tout, c'est de rendre amoureux trois personnes, le m[usicien], le p[eintre] et le c[horeographe], d'une idee. Cette reunion pourrait ressembler a une seance de magie dans un cabinet noir, on pourrait se l'imaginer comme une page d'un conte romantique'; together approximately 139 pages, mostly 4to (some on squared paper, a few leaves repaired with tape);
Ten letters addressed to Kochno by various correspondents including two by Colonel Wassily de Basil, in Russian (1943 and 1953); others by Joza Belohorsky (Czech artist proposing himself as a stage designer); Alexandra Danilova (Monte-Carlo 1930), Michael Sinclair-Noble (1947); two letters (one incomplete) by Cecil Beaton to Christian Bérard ('My dearest Bébé') referring to the difficulty of making his drawings look 'de l'epoque' ; eight drawings in pen and ink, pencil and watercolour of which one by Bérard, two small portraits of Kochno; 4 photographs of Kochno, others including a signed and inscribed photograph of Anton Dolin in Diaghilev's production of a Cocteau theme ('A memory of me in 1924 Le Train Bleu'); sixteen typed libretti for ballets submitted, with covering letters, to Kochno (for the Colonel de Basil's American Ballet) by writers including Brassaï and Savitry, Witold Conti, Leonora Fini and others; autograph manuscripts by Kochno of La Tour de Babel (1967) and by Francis Rose of The White Princess (1946); and approximately 10 autograph manuscripts or typescripts corrected in autograph including a poem, a description of street scenes, a heavily corrected typescript of Le Saltimbanque (1948), and fragments in Russian.
An interesting collection from the archive of one of the most influential figures in 20th-century ballet. Kochno was Diaghilev's secretary and librettist from 1920 until the latter's death in 1929. He then became artistic director of the Monte Carlo ballet, and after World War II founded, with Roland Petit, the Ballet des Champs Elysées. During the 1930s and '40s he lived openly with his lover, the painter Christian Bérard (1902-1949). (5)