Discovering a “lost” clarinetist in the Stravinsky/Craft Collection

Stephanie Akau

This is a guest post by Stephanie Akau, who just completed a 2018 Library of Congress Junior Fellowship. She is working towards a Master of Library and Information Science degree at San José State University and will graduate in May 2019. She is currently a library information specialist at the University of New Mexico. She holds the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in clarinet performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music degree from Michigan State University, and Bachelor of Music Education from the University of New Mexico.

Igor Stravinsky hardly needs an introduction. His chamber music, ballets, operas, and orchestral pieces are staples of the classical music canon. He is considered one of the most (if not the most) influential composers of the twentieth century. Robert Craft was Stravinsky’s music assistant, a conductor, and a proponent of new music. The Stravinsky/Craft Collection represents a portion of the material Craft amassed through his work with Stravinsky. He donated the materials to the Library of Congress. It consists of approximately 300 items, consisting mostly of music scores and parts, along with approximately 50 acetate disc recordings, and a small amount of correspondence. The collection spans much of Stravinsky’s compositional life. The earliest piece is from 1912; the latest, Requiem Canticles, was published in 1966 and was Stravinsky’s last major work. The collection represents all three of Stravinsky’s compositional stages: the first, the “Russian” period, consists of his music composed in collaboration with Serge Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes; the neoclassical period; and his late serial period when he experimented with twelve-tone composition.

I spent this summer in the Music Division at the Library of Congress processing the Stravinsky/Craft Collection, a rich source for the study of Stravinsky’s music. My project responsibilities included organizing the collection, rehousing the music, and creating a finding aid for it. As I began gathering information for the finding aid I went through each page of music. When it came to pieces consisting of ensemble parts, there didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. Some ensemble parts have clearly been used and have performers’ markings on them, while others are clean.

Clarinetist Conrado Cardús’s signature, performance date, and location on the clarinet part of Stravinsky’s Pastorale. Stravinsky/Craft Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

On the instrumental parts of the Pastorale, I came across signatures from a clarinetist, Conrado Cardús. I am a clarinetist as well, but I did not recognize his name. Signing orchestra parts, particularly rentals that travel around the world for performances, is not uncommon. It is a fun way to track who performed the piece before you and which orchestra she/he performed it with, granted the signatures do not get erased before returning to the publisher. Cardús signed the last page of the clarinet parts of the Pastorale and Stikhotvorenii︠a︡ iz i︠a︡ponskoĭ liriki (Three Japanese Lyrics). He also included the date of the concert, April 3, 1925 according to European date conventions, and the name of the concert hall, the Gran Teatre de Liceu in Barcelona.

Clarinetist Conrado Cardús’s signature, performance date, and location on the clarinet part of Stravinsky’s Three Japanese Lyrics. Stravinsky/Craft Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

I wanted to find out more about Cardús. He was clearly talented, possibly enough to set him apart from other orchestral players and soloists of the time period. I expected he would be someone I should have known but had just happened not to come across; however, I was only able to locate one article on him — a piece published in 1994 in a Catalonian journal by researcher Salvador Llorac i Santis. I don’t speak Catalan, so I used Google to translate the article.

Conrado Cardús i Canals was born in 1889 in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, a town outside Barcelona with a tradition of quality orchestral performance that dates back to the nineteenth century. He studied with Josep Nori at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu and went on to tour with an opera orchestra from Italy a few years after completing his studies. Upon returning to Spain, he performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles in Catalonia. In the 1920s he became the acting principal clarinet of the Gran Teatre de Liceu, which is probably why he was performing on the Stravinsky program in April 1925. His recordings and solo performances also garnered critical praise.[1]

Llorac i Santis notes that Stravinsky’s wind Octet was the major work on the April 3, 1925 program at the Gran Teatre de Liceu and, if I understand the translation, that Stravinsky was conducting the performance.[2] Llorac i Santis does not mention either Pastorale or Three Japanese Lyrics, the other two pieces in the Stravinsky/Craft collection with Cardús’s signature, but their presence in the collection allows us to piece together a portion of the program. The parts for the Octet are in the Stravinsky/Craft collection, with indications they that were from the first half of the twentieth century. In my notes from when I first looked through the collection I did not mention seeing performers’ signatures, so I went back to see if there was any indication the music could have been used on the 1925 Barcelona performance. I found Cardús’s signature in the second movement!

Clarinetist Conrado Cardús’s signature in the second movement of Stravinsky’s Octet. Stravinsky/Craft Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

So why hadn’t I heard of this great clarinetist? Cardús’s life was tragically short. He died in 1926 at the age of 36, ending a career that had already showed such promise, and leaving behind a wife and young family.[3] His son, Conrado Cardús i Rosell, is a violinist. It’s safe to say that had he lived longer, Cardús would have continued to enjoy a successful performing career.

More of my research on Cardús is forthcoming, as there are a number of promising sources I plan to look into after the conclusion of the Junior Fellows program. The completed finding aid for the Stravinsky/Craft Collection should be up later this year. If you’re in D.C. and are a Stravinsky researcher, please contact the Music Division to learn more about this exciting collection!

 

[1] Salvador Llorac i Santis, “Els Cardús, una nissaga de músics sadurniencs,” Miscellània Penedesenca 19, (1994). 154, accessed July 13, 2018. https://www.raco.cat/index.php/MiscellaniaPenedesenca/article/view/63815/92173

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 155.

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