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Ovide Musin


"And try to find an impressario ready to pay you 1000 dollars for each note"

Ovide Musin, 1854-1929.  Belgian violin virtuoso.  Autographed Musical Quotation and Note Signed, Ovide Musin, one page, 5½" x 8¾", on stationery of the Hotel Whitley, Emporia, Kansas, October 1895.  With accompanying unsigned concert program.

Musin, who was perhaps the top violinist of his time and was often described a genius, writes an exceptionally difficult piece of music in D Major four-octave scale and below it writes, “And try to find an impressario [sic] ready to pay you 1000 dollars for each note.  /  Reminiscence of a beautiful dream of Ovide Musin  /  Emporia October 1895.”

The bowing on this scale is tricky and one that only a virtuoso such as Musin could play well.  Musin's remark about finding an impresario "ready to pay you 1000 dollars for each note addresses how difficult it would be to make sure that every note is clearly heard.  The marking beneath the first 32nd note indicates that the piece starts on a "down bow, and the stacatto dots under the slur marking mean that the whole scale, except for the fermata D at the beginning and the high D at the end, is to be played with down bow staccatto bowing.  That would not be an easy feat, since it would require an extreme amount of bow control to be able to fit all of these notes into one bow.  

Musin gave this autograph when he was in Emporia, Kansas, to perform at the State Normal School, now Emporia State University.  This piece, which has never been offered on the autograph market before, comes from a collection assembled by a professor of penmanship at the State Normal School in the 1890s. 

Born in Belgium, Musin first studied at the Royal Conservatory and then, by age 13, taught violin there himself.  Once his parents allowed him to pursue a career as an artist, he performed repeatedly across Europe and in the United States to rave reviews.  For example, the San Francisco Chronicle said that Musin "stands beyond comparison with any violinist who has played in this city. . . . His technique, of course, is of the very highest perfection, but behind that is that indescribable something that we call genius.  He draws from the strings the notes in all their fullness and breadth of tone, and they come with that intangible quality of sympathy which carries every sound direct to the soul of the listener."

Musin premiered Gabriel Faures best-known single movement work for violin and piano, the Berceuse in D Major, Op. 16, in 1880, accompanied by Faure himself on the piano.  He founded the Musin Virtuoso School of Newark, and in 1920, he published My Memories: A Half-Century of Adventures and Experiences and Globe Travel.

Musin has penned this piece in gray fountain pen horizontally across the lines of the hotel note pad stationery.  There are minor glue stains at the ends and the corners are thin from prior mounting in an album, but these could easily be matted out.  Vertical folds affect the inscription and signature but are not obtrusive.  Overall the piece is in fine condition.  The accompanying concert program has mounting traces and shows some handling but is in fine condition as well.




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