BEECHAM, Sir Thomas
(1879-1961). Orchestral conductor.
Remarkable collection of 10 letters and other material to Phyllis Morley (b. 1889), daughter of George Morley, founder of Morley Harps. In all 32 pages 8vo, 6 pages 4to, 2 correspondence cards, 4 picture postcards, and 1 small envelope, 9 Roland Gardens Kensington and Highfield, Boreham Woods, 1905 where dated or postmarked.
George Morley, Phyllis's father, was a friend and mentor of Beechams during his early years in London. Well-connected and generous, Morley welcomed Beecham into his home and introduced him to influential people. Phyllis, born in 1889, was a 16-year-old schoolgirl when these letters were written.
Internal evidence suggests that Beecham took Phyllis to the theatre and concerts, suggested books she should read, and was playfully very attached to her. The letters are signed variously T.B., Vet, T. Beecham, Mad Hatter, Thomas Beecham, and His Distinguished Catship. Two long poems, Ode to a Salamander Stove
and "Apologia pro sua vita" (Cardinal Newman)
, the latter as from a cat, accompany the letters.
'... It's difficult to understand
How foolish folks can be;
Who do not see that cat's demand
of Life, variety.
We cannot by the fire all day
- Reclining lazily -
Sleep or dream the hours away
And really happy be. ...'
'... I suppose you have not yet been out to hear any opera. Up to the present time we have had at Covent Garden nothing but the 'Ring'; now and then relieved by such masterpieces as 'La Traviata' and 'Don Pasquale'. None of the good artists have yet arrived and there goeth forth a rumour that Edward de Reszke is not coming after all. ...'
'... When I attempt gaiety, I am called by these charming titles 'Mad Hatter' 'Oddity' 'Duffer' and other choice of expressions. When I gravitate into seriousness, I am saluted by epithets like 'idiotic' and 'silly' - 'galoot' (The last quite takes my fancy.). I rejoice to hear that at present you are acquainted with no one quite up to my level of idiocy. I am quite willing to believe that one of my sort is enough at a time. ...'
'... I think that one does not return to England in the depth of winter (apparently without reason) to search for houses and to give concerts. In other words, I may return northwards whence I did come. This is, however, for the present, 'tout-a-fait entre nous'. And now, best, kindest, and most indulgent of all woman kind, I ask pardon in true humility for this monstrous infliction on your time and patience. Deal gently with my faults - most conspicuous of them being 'prolixity' - take my sincerest regards for those with you and
Thomas Beecham. '
Almost all of the letters have been 'repaired' with adhesive tape, giving the impression that they were cherished and repeatedly read over a long period of time.