Scope and arrangement
The papers of Gabriel Astruc number approximately 1300 items and relate primarily to the early activities of Serge Diaghilev in bringing Russian ballet and opera to Western Europe. Most of the papers fall in the years 1906-1914. There are also several items dating from 1904 in the correspondence of la Comtesse Greffuhle, and an exchange of letters between Astruc and Romola Nijinsky in 1925. The years 1915-1924 are not represented.
Astruc functioned as an impresario during the early years of his relationship with Diaghilev, 1906-1913, working through his publishing house, La Societe Musicale G. Astruc & Cie, to organize a wide variety of concerts and theatrical events. Between 1907 and 1913 Astruc handled a variety of theatrical business matters for Diaghilev, including publicity, contract negotiations, financial backing, negotiations for tours and galas, etc. After 1913, they collaborated occasionally to present special galas and benefits.
Not all of the papers generated in the course of Astruc's Diaghilev-related activities are present in this collection. The Stravinski correspondence, for example, was sold separately in 1958 prior to the library's purchase of the collection.
Major correspondents in the collection are Gabriel Astruc and the members of his firm, la Societe Musicale G. Astruc & Cie; Robert Brussel; Eugegrave;ne Cornuche; Claude Debussy; Serge Diaghilev; la Comtesse Greffuhle; Baron Dmitri Günzburg; Reynoldo Hahn;Jules Martin;Vittorio Ningardi; Pierre Monteux; Ida Rubinstein; Boris Shidlovskii (Schidlowsky); Natasha Trouhanova; and Fedor Shaliapin. Many artists such as Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova are represented to a lesser extent, and there is considerable correspondence from individuals involved in publicity, bookings, patronage, legal matters, etc.
The collection comprises correspondence (including telegrams, typed copies of outgoing letters, and a few typed transcripts of telegrams and letters), inventories, contracts, financial documents, notes and plans, reports, clippings, programs, and annoucements.
Most of the papers are grouped by year, 1906 to 1914 and no date. There are, in addition, a few subject groupings organized around a central figure (Subject file - people) or a geographic location (Subject file - places). These subject groupings have been maintained because they were established by Astruc. There is also a group of Clippings, Programs and Announcements.
A highlight of the collection is the correspondence from Diaghilev consisting of 28 letters, notes, and cards, and 228 telegrams (including some typed transcripts)
A description of outstanding aspects of the collection follows:
- 1906 Correspondence from Shaliapin regarding various singing engagements.
- 1907 Correspondence relating to the Concerts Historiques Russes presented at the Opera in Paris. Diaghilev correspondence includes letters to Messrs. G. Asturc & Cie discussing terms for a concert of Russian music on May 30 and authorizing them to act on his behalf to arrange for rehearsal time and theater rental with the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt and the Salle des Agriculteurs.
- 1908 Correspondence relating to plans for 1909 season of Russian ballet and opera in Paris.Diaghilev correspondece includes a letter to Astruc asking him to bargain over the price of the Châtelet, which is too high, especially in view of the alterations which must be made to the theater.
- 1909 Correspondence, financial papers, inventories, etc., relating to the first Saison Russe at the Châtelet in May and June. The season was a financial disaster, and the papers trace Astuc's attempts to resolve the situation, prevent Diaghilev from obtaining backing for a 1910 season in Paris, and achieve a reconcilliation with the help of Robert Brussel. Drafts and copies of a report on the 1909 season written by Astruc and sent to Baron Frederiks, Chief Minister of the Russian Imperial Court and under whose jurisdiction the Imperial Theaters fell. Copies of the secret code Astrucused in corresponding with Jules Martin and Robert Brussel in Russia.Letters and Proposals from Boris Shidlovskii regarding an engagement of the Ballets Russes in New York.Diaghilev correspondence includes letters to G. Astruc & Cie asking the return of music, costumes, and the original of a portrait of Pavlova by Serov. A letter in Nouvel's hand, signed by Diaghilev, discusses their intention of giving a gala performance for French charity at the end of their Paris stay.
- 1910 Correspondence relating primarily to attempts by Astruc and Diaghilev to come to terms after the problems of 1909 and to resolve the conflicts between the seasons they planned for 1910 in Paris. Astruc planned a season of Italian opera at the Châtelet with the participation of the Metropolitan Opera, Toscanini, and Caruso. Diaghilev planned a season of Russian opera for the same period at the Opera with Shaliapin. Diaghilev eventually decided to present a season of ballet rather than opera.Correspondence with Vittorio Mingardi, General Director of La Scala, regarding various opera matters and the engagement of Ida Rubinstein and Fokine to do Cleopatra and Sheherazade in the winter of 1910-1911 at La Scala in Milan.Papers relating to legal problems stemming from a contract Astruc and Diaghilev had negotiated with Thomas Quinlan (Thomas Beecham's agent and manager) which Beecham subsequently refused to honor. Diaghilev correspondence includes a copy of a 4-page letter to Giullo Gatti-Casazza of the Metropolitan Opera in New York regarding modifications to a contract between them for a visit of the Ballets Russes to America, and a copy of a letter to G. Astruc & Cie informing them that he is making alterations in the contract with the Metropolitan Opera. Other letters and signed notes discuss the need to use the Opera for an afternoon rehersal of Giselle, terms of a contract with Reynaldo Hahn, the repertory for Monte Carlo, and negotiations with Paradossi regarding a South American tour.
- 1911 Correspondence about the Paris season of the Ballets Russes at the Châtelet in June.Correspondence, plans and notes regarding various negotiations for tours in the United States and Argentina.Notes giving future plans (for 1912?), including a tour of Germany.Private memorandum by Morsier, of G. Astruc & Cie, relating a private conversation with Diaghilev and Günzburg about a dispute between Astruc and Diaghilev over a contract with Gatti-Casazza. Diaghilev correspondence includes a letter from Rome about finances and a letter from London engaging Pierre Monteaux and considereing a tour of South America. Two long letters detail the problems involved in completing La Peri with Trouhanova and Le Dieu Bleu, and contain references to the progress of Narcisse, L' Oiseau de Feu, and Le Martyre de San Sebastien. A transcript of a letter to Astruc announces Diaghilev's decision not to carry out the contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company and his desire to meet with Gatti-Casazza and Otto H. Kahn.Telegrams from Diaghilev and Günzburg telling of Nijinsky's dismissal from the Maryinsky Theater.
- 1912 Correspondence regarding plans for tours to the United States and Argentina, for the summer season at Deauville, and for the opening season of the Theâtre des Champs-Elysees in 1913.Some correspondence regarding the Saison Russe in Paris in June and the Ballets Russes in Munich.Continuation of correspondence, begun in 1911, with Pierre Monteux.Diaghilev correspondence includes copies of letters about Orphee by Roger Ducasse and Daphnis and Chloe by Ravel, and a letter signed by Diaghilev and Günzburg regarding a financial matter.
- 1913 Correspondence and other documents regarding performances of Diaghilev's Russian ballet and opera in May and June at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysees, including financial data.Telegram from Nijinsky following his marriage, announcing his break with Diaghilev.Letter from E. Galiazzi regarding a possible engagement of the Ballets Russes at the Gran Teatro de Licao in Barcelona in 1914. Diaghilev corresondence includes a card to Fichefetof G. Astruc &Cie, giving program details for some performances at the Thegrave;âtre des Champs-Elysegrave;es.
- 1914 Correspondence relating to Diaghilev's rejection of collaboration with Astruc for the Saison Russe of 1914.
- Debussy.Letters and telegram, 1910-11 relating to Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien. 5 items.
- Greffuhle.Correspondence, 1904-1911, revealing the importance of the patronage and organizational talents which la Comtesse Greffuhle brought to Diaghilev's enterprises. The papers cover a variety of cultural events including the Exhibition of Russian Art in 1906 and the Concerts Historiques Russes in 1907. 69 items.
- Romola Nijinsky.Correspondence with Astruc regarding financial resources for an enterprise of Bronislava Nijinska's in 1925. 5 items.
- Ida Rubinstein.Correspondence, 1910-1914, relating to Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien, Helegrave;ne de Sparte, and Salomé,and containing references to d'Annunzio, Bakst, Debussy, Diaghilev, and Fokine. Includes a biographical note, a transcript of a letter by d'Annunzio and Debussy protesting the position taken by the Archbishop of Paris regarding Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien, a sonnet by Julien Ochse, a drawing by Henri Etlin, and correspondence from Rubinstien's lawyers and others to Astruc. 68 items.
- Trouhanova. Correspondence, 1906-1913, touching on a wide variety of projects, including an engagement to dance in Tannhauser in London in 1907, various music hall productions and ballet galas, and La Pegrave;ri. Includes transcripts of letters from Vincent d'Indy (regarding Istar and Jacques Rouche, and other letters to or about Trouhanova. 97 items.
- Deauville Correspondence, financial data, programs and announcements regarding the opening season at Deauville, summer 1912. Astruc managed theater events, which included the appearance of the Ballets Russes.
- Germany.Several items, dated 1911 and 1913, regarding possible engagements of the Ballets Russes in Germany.
- Lyons and Marseilles.Correspondence and clippings regarding the appearance of the Ballets Russes in Lyons in 1913. Overtures from Marseilles regarding a ballet engagement.
- ClippingsClippings regarding the season of Russian opera given at the Theâtre Sarah Bernhardtin 1911 and the engagement of Caruso to sing at Convent Garden in 1913.
- Programs and AnnouncementsMiscellaneous items, 1906-1914, including Ballets Russes programs from 1909-1914.
The Gabriel Astruc papers are arranged in two series:
- 1906-19143 foldersClippings are in original chronological arrangement, and are primarily from 1911. Programs and announcement are placed in chronological order.