An interesting sideline to a display of "musical stamps and cancellations" is letters written by musicians themselves! Some are related to their profession, while others are distinctly social!

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This postcard is from Robert Stolz, then in Wattens in Tirol, to his publisher in Vienna.

Wattens (Tirol) 4.7.15 Dear Mr R! Just before I departed I left the complete ready-to-print copy of the piano extract of my operetta Der Lumperl for you in your publishing house. I beg you to let me know if you have received this. I request, dear Mr R, to use only this extract for printing, and also not to pass it on, as this is the only true perfectly corrected copy!

A few weeks ago, I gave the lady in your office another piano extract from the Lumperl to send it to Geneva. Has there been confirmation that they have received it – I would like to know.I also beg you to ask H. Obermüller to remind him to send me the appropriate monthly invoice total to the above address, as I will stay here for a while. I will, dear Mr R, certainly reciprocate you for everything. With best wishes – your loyal Robert Stolz.

Have you heard of the composer Edmund Eysler? I hadn't, until KB alerted me to an postcard on Ebay. Eysler, born in 1874 and the son of a merchant, studied at the Vienna Conservatory, winning much praise. His first major success was the operetta Bruder Straubinger, premiered in 1903. He became the "house composer" of the Vienna Bürgtheater, remaining so into the 1920s. His acclaimed Die gold’ne Meisterin of 1927 became a favourite of Hitler – until the Nazis discovered Eysler’s Jewish background. Sheltered during the war by friends, Eysler’s last success was Wiener Musik in 1947. He died in 1949 and is buried in a grave-of-honour in the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna.

This card was written by Eysler to a lady in Vienna; the snatch of score is his setting of the words "Ja so ein Gassenbub", a song from his 1906 operetta "Künstlerblut"

Leo Slezak, the opera singer, sent his photograph to Baroness Victoria Prilesky on 23 August 1943

Slezak is said to be the originator of the Tale of the Swan. At the end of Wagner's Lohengrin the hero sings a sad farewell, then embarks on a boat drawn by a magic swan; it paddles him away as the heroine drops dead and the curtain falls to rapturous applause. In the Vienna Staatsoper one evening, as Slezak sang the final aria the swan-boat set off without him. Slezak walked to the front of the stage and enquired of the audience, "Entschuldigen Sie bitte, wann geht der nächste Strassenschwan?"

Franz Lehar also knew the Prilesky ladies; he sent a card plus his photograph in this envelope to Baroness Violetta Prileszky on 14 April 1936.

The card has been eagerly opened – his name is on the back! The Baronesses were probably the daughters of Baron Karl Prileszky, Hofwirtschaftsdirektor (Lord Chamberlain) to Kaiser Franz Josef (and present at his death).

On the back of the photo is "40 years old"!

Finally, a lengthy letter from Leo Slezak to Baroness Violetta, now using the family’s formal name Prileszky-Prilesz. It’s from a sanatorium in Dresden and dated 19 April 1936.

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©Andy Taylor. Last updated 24 July 2015