Abravanel, Maurice


In person signature of the Utah Symphony Orchestra’s founding conductor


Type: Signature
Description: (1903-1993) Greek-born American Sephardic Jewish classical music conductor, led Utah Symphony Orchestra for 30+ years.

In 1909, his family moved to Lausanne, Switzerland and for several years they lived in the same house as Ernest Ansermert, conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Young Abravanel played 4-hand piano arrangements with Ansermet, began to compose, and met composers such as Milhaud and Stravinsky. He lived in Germany 1922-33 (studying under Kurt Weill). In 1931, the Berlin State Opera director invited him to Berlin to conduct a performance at the Berlin State Opera and Abravanel became a regular guest conductor. With Hitler’s rise, prominent Jewish musicians left Germany and he went to Paris with Weill in 1933.

In Paris 1933-36, he worked with Bruno Walter who recommended Abravanel as a guest conductor at the Paris Opera and he guest conducted at the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris whose regular conductor was Pierre Monteux. He also met George Balanchine and conducted his ballets and the works of his old teacher and friend, Kurt Weill. Weill and Balanchine collaborated on a ballet, “The Seven Deadly Sins” which premiered in Paris, Abravanel the conductor. He also was music director of Balanchine’s Paris Ballet.

Spent 2 years conducting in Australia, a 13-week season in Melbourne and a 2-month season in Sydney with a standard repertoire incl. Puccini, Wagner and Bizet. In 1936 Abravanel became the youngest conductor at 33  ever hired at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (German and French repertoire), US citizen 1943.

In 1946 , the Utah State Symphony Orchestra, a community orchestra, sought a conductor, Abravanel one of 40 applicants for the position, receiving a  1-year1947 contract, rejecting a lucrative Radio City Music Hall contract. Abravanel worked without pay several times during the orchestra’s darkest days and over the next 30 years raised the ensemble to international prominence in live radio broadcasts and over 100 recordings. He built the orchestra from a part-time community orchestra into a well-respected, professional ensemble with Vanguard, Vox, Angel, and CBS recording contracts. He received a 1950 Tony Award for conducting Blitzstein’s opera Regina on Broadway. He long sought a permanent home, realized when Salt Lake’s Symphony Hall opened in September 1979, shortly after he retired. In 1993 Salt Lake City renamed it as Abravanel Hall.

4 ½ x 6 autograph album page (in person signature).

Condition: Very good, faint stain at top left

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