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Music Archives at the National Library of Canada

MUS 266

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Letter from composer Alexandre Scriabine to Canadian pianist Alfred LaLiberté, 21 February, 1907.

Alfred LaLiberté fonds.  - 1899-1952.  - 2.73 m of textual records.  - 487 photographs.  - 46 negatives.  - 1 audio disc. 

Biographical sketch
Alfred LaLiberté, a pianist, teacher and composer born in Saint-Jean d'Iberville, Quebec, is one of the most fascinating personalities in Canadian music.  Indeed, "fascinating" is the best description of this musician; the colourful story of his career in Europe and Canada involved a number of the musical celebrities and personalities of the first half of this century.  At age 28, he won a scholarship to the Stern Conservatorium in Berlin, Germany.  He then studied piano and composition with Russian pianist Alexander Scriabin.  It may be said that Scriabin and his fellow Russian pianist Nikolai Medtner were the greatest influence's in LaLiberté's life, since it was most likely they who ultimately persuaded the young pianist to specialize in composition and teaching.  Alfred LaLiberté moved to Montréal in 1911 and, except for a brief period in New York, he chose to carry out all of his activities there, concentrating on teaching and composition.  Toward the end of his life, he earned the status of a musical patriarch, and his former students are legion. 

Scope and content
The fonds contains records pertaining primarily to Alfred LaLiberté's relations with other composers, in particular his friendship with Russian composers Alexander Scriabin and Nikolai Medtner and his interest in their works.  Correspondence and a range of documents from the pen of LaLiberté and other musicians or writers are abundantly illustrative of the musical and literary environment at the turn of the last century and during the first half of the 20th century.  LaLiberté's teaching activity and musical production (musical manuscripts) are the third exceptionally interesting overall element preserved in this fonds. 

The fonds includes significant correspondence with, among others, composers Alexander Scriabin, Nikolai Medtner and Dane Rudhyar, organist Marcel Dupré and Father Joseph-Gers Turcotte, a leading light in Trois-Rivières music circles; other letters, from renowned composers, performers and writers such as Rachmaninoff, Teresa Carreño, Varèse, Glazunov, Carlos Salzedo, Carl Engel and Canadians Auguste Descarries, Wilfrid Pelletier, Emma Albani, Eugène Lapierre, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Léo Roy, Noël Brunet, Robert Choquette, Jean Bruchési and Alfred DesRochers; writings by Alfred LaLiberté including lecture notes, interviews and a notebook, compositions and arrangements by LaLiberté; course notes and notebooks on students; a collection of musical manuscripts by a range of composers including Nikolai Medtner, Claude Champagne, Auguste Descarries, Hector Gratton, Rodolphe Mathieu, Léo Roy and Dane Rudhyar; literary manuscripts including poems by Robert Choquette, Medtner, Rudhyar and the text of Poème de l'Extase by Scriabin; photographs of LaLiberté, friends, students and celebrities such as Scriabin, Medtner and Glazunov; and a sound recording of Alfred LaLiberté at the piano for a CBM radio broadcast. 

Immediate source of acquisition:  acquired from the musician's widow, Madeleine LaLiberté, between 1995 and 1997. 

Restrictions:  none. 

Finding aids:  provisional description. 

Proactive Disclosure