Joseph Robinson

Marcel Tabuteau and Joseph Robinson corresponded from April 1963 through December 1965. In addition to saving Tabuteau’s correspondence, Joe made carbon copies of his 1965 letters to Tabuteau and others promoting various Tabuteau projects. This foresight on Joe’s part enables us to follow the historical thread and better understand Tabuteau’s thinking concerning a number of issues which will be made clear by the correspondence itself. Presented below are the letters in chronological order. The thread begins with a transcription of the letter Joe sent to his parents from Europe following his first encounter with Tabuteau at Nice in March of 1963. We are grateful to Joe for agreeing to share the correspondence with our readership.

March 30, 1963

When I returned to Tabuteau’s apartment later that evening, I found him dressed in a white apron and hat preparing supper.  His boisterous personality reminded me of John Mack’s. We ate together and talked of music in general and of my hopes in particular until about midnight.

The next day he agreed to go with me into the cane fields centered around southern France not far from Nice. Needing cane himself and a way to get to it, the old master, for the first time, shared his secret contacts along with about 15 pounds of what he avowed was the best material for oboe reeds that could be found anywhere in the world. As he examined, cut, rubbed and selected the cane, his actions became increasingly animated and his attentions intensely focused, so that he hardly reacted to anything for hours except the clacking yellow tubes in their musty barn-like hiding places.  I bought him lunch, which along with the red wine and the day’s excitement, put him to sleep in the car on the way back from the cane fields.

Once home, supper at his hand was again insistingly offered; and the confidence which Tabuteau had already shown in me was confirmed in his solemn confession, in the midst of all the fun we were having in the kitchen, that I reminded him of himself when he was a young man!

I had arrived in Nice, a messenger of a golden time in Tabuteau’s life, with an unspoiled flower of adoration in my hand, reminding him of the joys and achievements of his highest days. He spoke to me about his most intense moments with Stokowski and Toscanini; about the many brilliant students who cowered under his scrutiny at Curtis; and about musical idealism he could only imagine now in retrospect. There was some melancholy in these half-recognized fantasies, and it was clear he yearned for the youth in himself which he saw embodied in me. He drank and roared with laughter, then almost cried as he watched me walk out the door!

It remains to be seen whether I can meet him again and share the disciplined secrets of his genius.

April 27, 1963

Tabuteau’s first letter to Joe

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May 28, 1963

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July 8, 1963

The postscript is in Mme. Tabuteau’s hand

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January 5, 1964

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June 5, 1965

Letter forwarded to Guatemala where Joe was working during the summer

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Here begins a series of letters in which Joe encourages Tabuteau to preserve his art for posterity.

August 30, 1965

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September 8, 1965

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October 7, 1965

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November 1, 1965

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November 3, 1965

Joe’s letter to Philip Hanes requesting funding is not extant. Below is Hanes’ response.

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November 12, 1965

Below is Tabuteau’s initial response to the correspondence above. It was written by an unknown hand but signed and postscripted by Tabuteau.

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November 26, 1965

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November 28, 1965

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November 30, 1965

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December 12, 1965

Vittorio Giannini, Italian-American composer, was president of the North Carolina School of the Arts during the period in which Joe was corresponding with Tabuteau in an effort to bring him to America.

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December 13, 1965

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December 15, 1965

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December 22, 1965

This was Tabuteau’s last letter to Joe

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December 30, 1965

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December 30, 1965

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Tabuteau died on January 4, 1966. The following obituary appeared in the New York Times.

January 6, 1966

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January 8, 1966

Joe sent the following condolences to Mme. Tabuteau

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Arthur A. Hauser was the president of Theodore Presser Publishing Company

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