Bruno Walter directs from the keyboard the first Concerto Grosso in Germany and Holland. (In Holland the first performance took place January 16, 1930 in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw.)
He resigns from the Music Conservatory of San Francisco February 11, 1930.
On February 16 America is performed in its first Italian première by Gino Marination in the Augusteo of Rome.
The Jacob and Rosa Stern funds (of the Levi Strauss family) in the amount of $100,000 is deposited at the University of Berkeley in California and the interest ($5,000 per year) are to be provided to Bloch for ten years so that he can devote himself entirely to composition. Reuben Rinder (cantor of the San Francisco synagogue) and Gerald Warburg (cellist of the Stradivarius Quartet, son of the banker Félix Warburg) commission a Service for the synagogue from him.
His wife has come from Europe to rejoin him in San Francisco and he thinks they will relocate back to Europe for good.
He learns he has won $5,000 with Helvetia in the Victor Company contest.
He decides to go to Bali via Japan and China to remain there several months and then return via Tahiti, visit there or come back to bury himself somewhere in northern California.
A drama causes him to renounce this plan: his young friend Winifred writes him a horrible letter. Because of his resulting depression, he leaves for Europe on July 24.
He comes back to Europe to live.
He spends two weeks in Paris then leaves for Geneva to put his affairs in order.
Vacations in Switzerland at Griesalp. He studies Hebrew for Le Service Juif which he is writing, and he is passionate about it.
The Psaume 22 is performed on September 8 in Venice, during the first International Festival of Music, by the soprano Madeleine Grey accompanied on the piano by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
Schelomo is performed September 13 in London during the Promenade Concert by Sir Henry Wood and the cellist Felix Salmond.
He finally unearths a house with peace and quiet but without comfort, in Roveredo Capriasca, in le Tessin, to spend the winter there. It is almost in the mountains, near Lugano.
He is immersed in his Service Juif. This work saved his life. He is on the verge of collapse from loneliness, despair, discouragement, and unfulfilled instincts.
Schelomo is performed on November 7, 8 and 10 in Philadelphia by Leopold Stokowski and the cellist Alfred Wallenstein.
The First Concerto Grosso is played November 17 in Paris by Alfred Cortot.
America receives its second German performance November 29 in Berlin by Heinz Unger at the head of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Berlin.
Reading the correspondence of Voltaire. It is a marvel of marvels and one doesn’t tire of it. What a guy! And what an era!
Bloch is making progress with his Service. He has almost finished the sketch and he changed everything with the needed shears: here and there there were “little ends” to remove as is fitting for a Jewish Service!
They are still playing a little Bloch in this end of year:
-The First Concerto Grosso is performed December 3 in London by Herbert Menges.
-Israël is performed December 7 in Rome by Bernardino Molinari.
-Schelomo is performed December 18 and 19 in Cleveland by Nicolaï Sokoloff and the cellist Victor de Gomez.
He is at the bottom of a depression. He suffers, he has miserable health and he is in almost constant despair. In spite of the most powerful narcotics, he has considerable crises of insomnia. He tried suicide twice. He had placed all of his hopes in this little Winnie. He needed her, her youth, her help, her spontaneity to save himself as a man and as an artist. She slipped away and she refused.
In spite of everything, he begins to create the Service Sacré (vocal and piano score).
After having spent two days of walking alone, in spite of the snow which begins to fall again, he finally is able to talk to the trees, to the rocks and to the flowers which replied to his heart. He stopped and he lay down in the forest of firs. And suddenly one would have thought that the soul of each tree reheated his heart and in reality, communicated with him…He himself became a tree! Which is much better than being a man.
Even so he worked although he didn’t understand the miracle that allowed that to happen.
He leaves Roveredo on July 16 for Paris hoping for a change of atmosphere.
He plays his Service Sacré in Ville d’Avray in the Menuhin home. The audience,Fleg and Enesco, are overcome with emotion.
Return to Roveredo after three weeks in Paris. For several days he begins to sleep without sleeping pills and his whole state is improved.
The Service is almost finished. He copies the large score with orchestra in ink. He was happy to see Alfred Pochon again in Lutry where he spent several days, and then Romain Rolland in Villeneuve on September 13.
Mary Tibaldi Chiesa, author of an article on him in the Milan newspaper Ambrosiano on July 27, 1931, came to visit him in Roveredo on October 7. Since his Quintet was supposed to be performed in Milan at the Teatro del Popolo, she made contact with the concert organizers. When they learned that he was so close by, they asked him to participate.
On October 30 the composer Ildebrando Pizzetti introduces Bloch to the public and Bloch accompanies on the piano Inès Maria Ferraris who sings his Poèmes d’automne and the Psaumes 114 and 137. Then the Poltronieri Quartet and the pianist Guido Agosti play the first Quintet With Piano.
The success obtained by this first appearance on an Italian stage incites Mary Tibaldi Chiesa to organize a veritable concert tour in the major Italian cities: Milan, Naples, Florence, Venice, and Turin.
A Bloch festival is organized December 23 1931 in Milan at the Convegno by Mary Tibaldi Chiesa. Bloch plays fragments from Enfantines on the piano, Dans la Nuit (Un poème d’amour), and Poèmes de la Mer. Bloch accompanies the violinist Giuseppina de Rogatis who performs Baal Shem. Then the First Quartet is interpreted by the Napoletano Quartet.
Mary Tibaldi Chiesa organized several concerts for him in Italy:
-January 19 1932 in Naples, he performs his piano pieces (Enfantines, Fans la Nuit, Poèmes de la Mer) and accompanies Giuseppina de Rogatis who plays Baal Shem. The Napoletano Quartet performs his First Quartet.
-January 23 1932 in Florence he reperforms the same pieces for piano. Les Nocturnes and the First Quintet with Piano are performed by the Poltronieri Quartet and Guido Agosti.
Bloch meets Pizzetti, Gatti, Casella and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
But his health falters, too much speed, fatigue, and nervous tension. He returns to Poveredo precipitously without participating in the concert scheduled to be given in his honor in Venice.
The world première of Helvetia takes place February 18 1932 in Chicago, with Frederick Stock at the head of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The press is bad.
Helvetia is performed in its first Swiss audition March 5 1932 in Geneva by Ernest Ansermet at the head of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
The following day the first Italian audition takes place in Rome by Mario Rossi at the head of the Orchestra della Regia Accademia. But Bloch wasn’t to listen to it, being too tired to travel.
Le Service Sacré is almost finished, it’s only missing its conclusion on which he has made no headway for months.
He composes the first part of a Sonata for Piano and he does exercises on this instrument. Often he loses hope…before the spectacle of a graying old man of 52 years in the grip of exercises of an elementary technique. He feels he will never be a pianist but the book of Cortot on the Chopin Etudes helps him a lot.
Mary Tibaldi Chiesa organized some Bloch festivals which are given in succession in Italy: May 13 1932 in Venice and June 15 1932 in Turin.
America rejects him: now they write day after day as though they want to get rid of him, denying his Americaness, since it only is there by naturalization.
The Flegs and then the Barjanskys come to visit him at Roveredo. After so many months of solitude, it’s a striking contrast. But still he spends a terrible summer of physical and moral sufferings.
The Quatre épisodes are performed in Venice at the International Festival of Music September 3 1932 by Antonio Guarnieri at the Teatro de La Fenice. Bloch didn’t go because he was suffering too much.
A slight improvement has occurred: he is able to sleep again without drugs. He takes up his piano study again.
He goes back to the Service Sacré. The last chorus is unfinished.
The First Quintet is performed (and broadcast on the radio) November 9 1932 in Lausanne by the Ribaupierre Quartet and the pianist Irène Jacobi.
Israël is performed in its first Swiss audition December 17 1932 in Geneva by Ernest Ansermet directing the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. It was well executed—even though without a doubt he wasn’t able to have himself circumcised for the occasion—it would have been worth it!
Bloch doesn’t go to Geneva but he hears his work (rather poorly!) on the radio.
He directs two concerts of his works in Rome with great success:
-January 22 1933 at the Augusteo: Hiver-Printemps, Trois Poèmes Juifs, Schelomo (with Barjansky for the first and last time) and Helvetia.
-January 27 1933 at the Académie St. Cécile: he interprets Cinq Esquisses en Sépia and the Poèmes de la Mer on the piano; his friend, the pianist Guido Agosti plays the Nocturnes and the First Quintet in the company of other musicians. Finally, he directs the Quatre Episodes with a chamber orchestra composed of members of the Orchestre de l’Augusteo.
In Paris, his friend André de Ribaupierre plays the first Sonata for Violin and Piano February 25 1933. It is nicely welcomed.
In London, the Griller Quartet and the pianist Harry Isaacs performs the First Piano Quintet twice in Wigmore Hall.
He leaves for Zurich to meet Stefan Zweig on March 14 1933, a friend that Bloch knows solely by correspondence, since 1916! Bloch spends several days with him while Zweig gives lectures.
In Geneva Bloch listens to Israël performed March 16 by Ansermet, but it is so poorly done and so <off the mark> that it doesn’t have any relation to Bloch’s work.
In Cleveland, Sokoloff is the champion of Israël in the United States because he performs this work twice on March 2 and 4, 1933.
Bloch directs with success a Bloch Concert in Turin on April 19, 1933: Hiver-Printemps, First Concerto Grosso, Trois Poèmes Juifs and Israël.
Bloch learns of the death of Dr. Bruno Bloch of Zurich who treated him and whom he considered a true friend.
A little monograph on Bloch’s life and work appears in Turin, edited by Bloch’s loyal Mary Tibaldi Chiesa.
Bloch is very touched by the courage of Joseph Szigeti who became one of Bloch’s most ardent supporters, the most loyal. He plays the First Sonata Violon Piano all over the world (notably in Paris May 22 19333, in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées).
Bloch finishes his Service Sacré in Roveredo on June 7 1933: it is the equivalent of three years of labor behind him and a great living and durable work, and thousands of miseries left in front of him. Then certain impotent critiques will come ready for a bout of mudslinging.
He leaves for Paris with his wife to see some friends. But she returns to Roveredo while he embarks for the United States on June 21 1933.
In New York at the beginning of July 1933, he falls in love with a pretty young journalist, Sylvia Glass, but she finds herself “too young” for him.
In vain attempts to create his work he plays the Service Sacré on the piano for four months and gives lectures on this subject in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cleveland. But he is the only one to struggle, since the American editor wasn’t ready and the Jews showed themselves to be indifferent.
He remains in New York to meet and welcome Schönberg November 11—the poor man! They destroyed him! Bloch wrote to him to welcome him.
Bloch participates in the Town Hall in a concert by the League of Composers devoted to Schönberg whom the Nazis chased out of Germany. Bloch dines with him. He is a very nice man. However, although one part is good, Bloch doesn’t like his music.
Bloch participates in the Consultation Committee of the Conservatory which his friends, the Malkin brothers, just created in Boston. Bloch’s daughter Suzanne as well as his disciple and friend Roger Sessions teach at the Malkin Conservatory. It is the only business which has the courage to offer employment to Schönberg.
Finally two days before Bloch’s departure for Le Havre (November 22 1933 on the Washington) la Schola Cantorum (Catholic Society) and the Choir of the School Pius X decide to perform his Service Sacré in New York in April 1934!
He spends a week in Milan to correct the score of the Service Sacré which he edits at his expense. He choses the interpreters for the world première anticipated for Turin January 19, 1934. Exhausted, he goes back to Roveredo at the end of December.
-January 19, 1934: he directs the world première of the Service Sacré in Turin in the setting of the Symphonic Concerts of EIAR in the Teatro di Torino with the assistance of the baritone Cocelli and choruses coached by the maestro Vertova.
On the same program appear: Quatre Episodes and Schelomo with Amfitheatrof.
Everything went beautifully except the cantor who, unfortunately, was mediocre.
In London from the 12th to the 17th of February it is Bloch week.
-February 12 1934: Bloch festival dedicated to Bloch’s symphonic works. Bloch directs the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Queen’s Hall: Hiver-Printemps, Prélude and Deux Psaumes 137 and 114 (with Tatiana Makushina), Schelomo (with Maurice Eisenberg) and Helvetia (first English performance).
-February 15 1934 Mary Tibaldi Chiesa, coming from Milan, gives a lecture on his work at the London Musical Club.
-February 16 1934, Bloch directs a second Bloch festival dedicated to his chamber music, at the Aeolian Hall, with the assistance of the English Ensemble, of the Boyd Neel Orchestra and of the Modern Wind Quintet: Quatre Episodes, first Concerto grosso, Poèmes de la Mer played by Bloch, first Quintette with piano (Kathleen Long is on the piano).
-February 17 1934, a third Bloch festival of chamber music takes place at the London Contemporary Music Centre (Suite pour alto et piano, first Sonata violon et piano) but Bloch wasn’t able to be part of this.
A big happening: Bloch meets Havelock Ellis in London.
In Paris they present the first French performance of Poème Mystique February 20, 1934 by André de Ribaupierre and Ernest Vulliemin at the Ecole Normale de Musique.
March 25 1934 Israël is performed in Florence by Vittorio Gui.
-7th and 26th April 1934: in Naples the Service Sacré is performed twice by F.M. Napolitano who replaced Bloch because Bloch was too exhausted to make the trip.
-11th April 1934: Bloch directs the first American performance of the Service Sacré in New York at Carnegie Hall at the head of the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. The chorus of 250 members is the one from the Schola Cantorum augmented by the Choir of Pius X School coached by Hugh Ross. The baritone is Friedrich Schorr from the Met.
Bloch is exhausted but the Service went as well as possible with four half rehearsals! (Bloch had had nine complete rehearsals in Turin!)
-18th and 20th May 1934: Bloch directs the Service Sacré in Milan’s La Scala (local première) at the head of the Orchestra and the choirs of La Scala with the assistance of baritone Inghilleri. This Bloch festival includes also Helvetia (local première) and Schelomo (with Martinenghi).
The public is cold and the press, hostile. But for Bloch it was a splendid artistic experience. He got everything he wanted, 11 rehearsals, and the devotion of the musicians, chorus members, the audience. The two directors of La Scala supported Bloch, and were for him, true men.
Alexandre Weinbaum performs the first German production on the Service Sacré on June 25 1934 in Berlin in the Nouvelle Synagogue at the head of the Orchestra of the Kulturbundes Deutscher Juden.
From 1934 to 1936 the Service Sacré will be played in Groningue, Budapest, Frankfurt am Main, Prague.
The Blochs received the visit of Alexandre Weinbaum in Roveredo. He made an immense impression on them.
The Blochs found a primitive but calm chalet in Châtel (Haute-Savoie) in which to spend the summer.
After having spent three weeks at his sister’s home in Geneva, Bloch moves to Paris.
Eugène Goossens presents the second American performance of Helvetia on October 19 and 20th 1934 in Cincinnati.
Installed in Paris for a month, he is fighting physically and mentally: urticaria, a spasmodic head cold, insomnia.
He tries a new treatment (autotransfusion) and he begins a Sonata for piano. The Service Sacré is performed in Budapest on February 5, 1935.
The 23rd of February Schelomo is interpreted in Paris (Salle Gaveau) by a young cellist, André Navarra, with the Orchestra Lamoureux under the baton of Louis Fourestier.
A transcription of Baal Shem is performed in New York (Town Hall) February 15, 1935, by Emanuel Feuermann.
In spite of his ill health, he finishes the first part of his Sonata for piano.
His Service Sacré is performed in the second German performance in Frankfurt am Main.
He began a new treatment, homeopathy. His health allowed him neither the ability to move much nor to see people but he works on a Suite, a type of dialog between the piano and the cello.
They play his Service Sacré in Prague.
Barjansky came to pay Bloch a visit in Paris: naturally they played his new work for cello, the one which isn’t finished yet; it is very moving and although it is of a Jewish and prophetic inspiration, it doesn’t remind one of Shelomo at all. It is Carl Engel who will give it its name: Voix dans le désert (Voice in the desert).
On June 20 Bloch participates in a concert of Jewish music in Paris. Bloch accompanies the cellist André Levy who plays Méditation hébraïque and De la Vie Juive in its first French performance.
The Prélude pour quatuor is played by the Gentil Quartet.
They move to the Haute-Savoie (Châtel) to a little isolated chalet. Bloch is busy with the second movement of his Sonata for piano.
-August 14: Bloch finishes Voix dans le désert for the violin and piano score in Châtel.
-October 20: finishes the piano Sonata which is dedicated to the Italian pianist Guido Agosti.
Schelomo is performed by Ernest Ansermet at the head of the Orchestra of the Suisse Romande, with Gregor Piatigorsky on November 4 1935 in Lausanne and November 6 1935 in Geneva. Bloch took part in the concert in Lausanne which was a success.
November 12, Ansermet performed Hiver-Printemps for the Concert for the Centennial of the Conservatory in Geneva (salle de la Réformation).
Bloch leaves at the end of the month for Milan to take care of the publication of his Sonata for piano by Carish.
Bloch returns to Châtel. Stuck in bed with sciatica, he receives a beautiful letter from an English cellist from Birmingham, Alex Cohen, who adores Bloch’s music.
On January 26 he completes the Voix dans le désert in its orchestral version in Châtel (Haute Savoie).
He receives some beautiful letters from two new English friends, Ernest Chapman of London and Alex Cohen from Birmingham, who fight to have Bloch’s music played.
World première of his Sonate pour piano February 7 in Milan by the Italian pianist Guido Agosti, to whom this work is dedicated.
Sir Thomas Beecham presents Hiver-Printemps in London (Queen’s Hall) February 13 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was broadcast on the radio.
From 7 to the 14th of February Koussevitzky presents five successive concerts including the Trois Poèmes Juifs in Boston and in New York.
Bloch begins a Concerto for violin and orchestra.
April 24: Bloch hears his Sonate pour piano in it’s first Swiss performance thanks to Guido Agosti. The public accepted it easily and with great enthusiasm. Bloch had to get on stage three times! The first time in Geneva in 21 years!
On May 25 the Sonate pour piano has its first English performance in London in Grotrian Hall by Charles Lynch.
Bloch finishes the second movement of his Concerto for violin.
Einstein accepted the presidency of the Ernest Bloch Society of London.
Several friends came this summer to Châtel: Carl Engel who found the title of Voix dans le désert, Alex Cohen from Birmingham who moves heaven and earth for Bloch in England, Perkoff from London who organized the two concerts which Bloch directed in 1934.
He spends several weeks in Italy where a doctor succeeded a little in calming his allergy.
On November 16 Bloch hears the instrumental version of the Art de la fugue of J.S. Bach on the radio produced by Franz Von Hoesslin who directs the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. The work is gigantic, colossal, of a power, of a diversity, of an imagination of which Bloch was unaware…
He sketches out the three orchestral pieces that he promised to Birmingham (they will be the Evocations).
Bloch leaves for Paris at the end of December to begin the rehearsals of the Service Sacré which will be performed in January 1937.
Paris. A bad bronchitis forces him to postpone his concert which finally takes place January 26, 1937: le Service Sacré is performed for the first time in France under Bloch’s direction in the synagogue on the rue de la Victoire. It was by far the best and for him the most satisfying execution that Bloch ever had of the Service.
Voix dans le désert has its world première in Los Angeles January 21 and 22, 1937 by Otto Klemperer at the head of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Alexander Borisoff, solo cellist of the orchestra.
Bloch tries to replay le Service Sacré in Paris but everyone by the faithful Algazi abandons him.
He works relentlessly on the symphonic poem Evocations.
An Ernest Bloch Society is founded in New York. It plays his chamber music in five successive concerts from March 19, 1937 to April 16, 1937 thanks to the Gordon Quartet and to the pianist Gertrude Bonime.
Bloch tries without success to have Macbeth performed in Paris.
Disgusted with Paris he leaves for Châtel (Haute Savoie).
Voix dans le désert has its New York première April 3 and 4, 1937 in Carnegie Hall by Artur Rodzinski at the head of the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra with Joseph Schuster, solo cellist from the orchestra.
A little Bloch festival is organized in Geneva by the chamber music society, Le Carillon, and the pianist Hélène Zumsteg April 19, 1937.
He finishes the instrumentation of his orchestral suite Evocations in Châtel.
He is again playing his violin and the Concerto pour violon of which two movements are now complete.
On June 7, 1937 a Bloch Evening is organized in Paris in the suites of the Revue musicale. They recruited Swiss artists (the pianist Jacqueline Blancard, the violinist Chil Neufeld and the cellist Henri Buenzod) to play his chamber music in France!
They received the visit of Bloch’s son and his wife Marianne in Châtel.
He has as a student a charming young Italian, Ada Jesi, who came with her mother from Venice to study for several weeks.
His cousin Léon Goetschel dies in Paris at the end of July, 1937. His memories are so acute that, like with his mother, he feels him still there, as living as before.
Many visitors come up to Châtel. His daughter Suzanne and her husband Paul, his old associates from the San Francisco Conservatory, the Benedictine father, Dom de Malherbe. Bloch learns Italian and he orchestrates the third movement of the Concerto pour violon.
Writing to Guy de Pourtalès, Bloch was touched by his admirable book: La Pêche miraculeuse.
In the United States Reginald Boardman, a pianist friend of Boaz Piller, gives the first American performance of Bloch’s Sonate pour piano on September 22, 1937 in Crawford Notch (N.H.)
Trip to Milan where he performs Macbeth to Antonio Guarnieri who wants to stage it at the Naples Opera.
He then leaves for Malcesine, Lac de Garde, where he sees again note by note, all the remarkable translation of Macbeth in Italian by M. T. Chiesa.
In Paris, Voix dans le désert has its French première October 17, 1937 in the Salle Pleyel by Pierre Monteux directing the Symphony Orchestra of Paris with the assistance of the cellist Charles Bartsch.
In London there are two concerts aired on the radio by the BBC:
-Les Poèmes de la Mer for orchestra have their English première October 22, 1937 by Clarence Raybould at the head of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
-Schelomo is performed on October 28, 1937 by Sir Thomas Beecham at the head of the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Gregor Piatigorsky.
Bloch orchestrates the third movement of his Concerto pour violon.
Voix dans le désert for cello and piano has its British première November 11, 1937 in Glasgow by Luigi Gasparini and the Dr. Chisholm.
The British Ernest Bloch Society which was founded in London is going to give three concerts of his chamber music in December, 1937:
-in London December 10 and 16
-in Birmingham on December 18.
His friends Alex Cohen and Ernest Chapman come to see him in Châtel at the end of December. They are poor but ardent, convinced, devoted. They have performed miracles. It is consoling to think that even so there is a little group which struggles and which has confidence. Thus he tells himself that when he is gone, the jealousy and the indifference and the lack of faith won’t obliterate his huge effort.
An Ernest Bloch Society was founded in London with Albert Einstein, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Arthur Bliss, Sir Arnold Bax, and Sir John Barbirolli, among others, as honorary officers.
He finally finished his Concerto pour violon (in Châtel, Haute-Savoie), huge job including copying the 156 pages of the score, the 70 of the piano version, nuances, bowing, etc.
Voix dans le désert is performed in its Italian première in Naples January 8, 1938 by Fernando Previtali and the cellist Massimo Amfitheatrof.
In London Leslie Heward presents Hiver-Printemps January 13 and the English Ernest Bloch Society presents a Bloch festival on January 27.
In New York Nicolaï Sokoloff, the most true interpreter of his Symphonie Israël plays this work on January 9 (he will perform it again April 26 in Los Angeles).
On February 5 in New York Emanuel Feuermann begins his cycle of four concerts dedicated to the cello repertory by a Concerto of C.P.E. Bach, le Concerto en ré majeur (D major) of Hayden and Schelomo.
In San Francisco Evocations is performed in its world première on February 11, 1938 by Pierre Monteux.
Macbeth is brought back to life after 28 years of silence on March 5, 1938 at San Carlo of Naples under the baton of Antonio Guarnieri. It is a triumphant but short-lived success because the antiSemitic measures promulgated during the summer of 1938 caused his musical works to be banned from Italy.
In New York, the American Ernest Bloch Society gives a Bloch festival in Town Hall on March 12, 1938: the Musical Art Quartet plays le premier Quatuor and le premier Quintette and Frank Sheridan performs the New York première of Bloch’s Sonate pour piano.
In England at Birmingham they present the English première of Evocations on March 10, 1938 under the baton of Leslie Heward and the Service Sacré on March 26, 1938 under the baton of G.D. Cunningham.
In San Francisco le Service Sacré performed at the Temple Emanu-El by Giulio Silva on March 28, 1938 produced a formidable impression.
The English Ernest Bloch Society presents a Bloch festival in London April 12, 1938: the Griller Quartet shows an extraordinary devotion to Bloch’s work.
Bloch’s scores are a part of the exposition “Degenerate Music” which opens in Düsseldorf on May 22, 1938, an exposition organized by the Nazi propaganda minister.
Bloch’s life is filled with the same terrible and intense work of getting Macbeth finished, 12-16 hours per day. Complete reworking of the choruses, changing the text and finally copy the two Interludes of the first and third acts for the concert. They will publish them according to Bloch’s own manuscript.
They received the visit of a great biologist, Miss Kitty Ponse, as charming as she was authentic and modest.
He is still exhausted, wiped out by this enormous labor and moreover, he has a crisis of inexpressable melancholy. Only his work, a little violin, some piano, and reading, some vague sketches…innumerable letters…keeps him going.
The second British performance of the Service Sacré is given at the Sainte-Anne de Belfast Cathédrale by Walton O’Donnell at the head of the Orchestra and the Choruses of the BBC Northern Ireland.
The third English performance of the Service Sacré is given November 26 in Bristol by Arnold Barter at the head of the Bristol Philharmonic Society.
Bloch finishes a Pièce pour Quatuor à cordes (piece for string quartet) November 7, 1938 in Châtel (he won’t publish it until 1952).
He spends four days in London where the English Ernest Bloch Society organizes a large reception in his honor on December 3: Sir Arthur Bliss gives the welcoming speech and with the assistance of Louis Kentner, the Griller Quartet plays his premier Quintette avec piano. On December 5 the Griller Quartet plays the premier Quatuor for Bloch and a dozen friends (they performed it at least ten times in England this year).
Le Concerto pour violon is created on December 15, 1938 in its world première in Cleveland by Dimitri Mitropoulos at the head of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of Joseph Szigeti.
On December 13, Bloch leaves Paris to embark on the Champlain and return definitively to the United States on December 21, 1938.
He arrives in New York and stays at the Peter Stuyvesant Hotel and begins the orchestration of Baal Shem.
He meets Szigeti who is enthused by Bloch’s Concerto pour violon and by Yehudi Menuhin who will study it, as well as Roger Sessions, Bernard Rogers and of course all of the family.
Having left the United States eight years ago, he feels lost here, forgotten. However, Koussevitzky presents Schelomo in Boston on January 27 and 28 (with Gregor Piatigorsky) and in New York on February 11 (with Jean Bedetti).
As far as Bloch’s tour of concerts: San Francisco hasn’t responded, Chicago is bargaining, but Boston accepted. He had a one hour very friendly and almost affectionate conversation with Koussevitzky. He is in favor of a totally Bloch program for the five concerts anticipated in Boston in March, 1939.
But in actuality, it is in England where his work is played the most.
His friends from the Griller Quartet play for the first time in New York (Town Hall) on February 5, but they were advised not to play Bloch for their American début! And that given that they already played his premier Quatuor successfully 15 times in the last year all over England!
They came to play it in the Blochs’ hotel room, for him, his wife and his daughters. Alex Cohen rehearsed them without ever having heard Bloch play the Quatuor: a miracle of intuition.
The Concerto pour violon is performed for its European première with great success in London (Queen’s Hall) March 9, 1939 by the violinist Joseph Szigeti accompanied by Sir Thomas Beecham at the head of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Several days later, the same Joseph Szigeti performs, in a French production, the Concerto pour violon on March 19, 1939 in Paris (Salle de l’Ancien Conservatoire), accompanied by Charles Munch at the head of the Concerts Society of the Conservatory.
In England Richard Austin performs the world première of the Deux Interludes symphonique de Macbeth on March 15 in Bournemouth at the head of the Orchestra of Bournemouth.
In the United States, invited by Koussevitzky, Bloch directs a Bloch festival in Boston made up of two different programs resulting in a great success.
The first program given March 16, 17, and 18th includes:
-Deux Interludes de Macbeth (American première)
-Trois Poèmes Juifs
The second program given March 20 and 21 includes:
-Deux Interludes de Macbeth
-Trois Poèmes Juifs
Schelomo (with Jean Bedetti)
Helvetia (its Boston première)
There was also an evening performance at the synagogue during which a part of his Service Sacré was played with an organ in so far as an element of worship. It was extremely moving. Bloch felt as though he were already dead and that his efforts and his ideas continued after him…He left Boston with regret…but as a different man, with courage, a desire to create, confidence and a clearer vision, thanks to this musical contact, of what he must do.
In a little synagogue of New York Bloch attended his Service Sacré with apprehension because the chorus only had nine singers! And what can one do with nine singers and a feeble organ! But it was a complete religious ceremony. The atmosphere was so beautiful, so moving, so true, so impersonal, that Bloch absolutely forgot that they were playing and singing his music, his work…All that vanished…He was already dead, for centuries! It was a sacred rite, symbolic, a union of man with God, with the hidden forces of the Universe.
A concert dedicated to Swiss music is performed on May 11 in New York (Town Hall). Ernest Schelling directs the Deux Interludes de Macbeth. He didn’t even have the idea to ask Bloch to direct them!
He received a letter dated June 12 from Doctor Sproul, president of the University of California, inviting Bloch to become a member of the faculty—music department of Berkley—in the most charming and the most courteous terms.
The Stern Funds expire on March 11, 1940. They will continue to pay him if he moves to Berkeley to give degreed students a limited number of courses. Bloch accepted in principle.
He obtained his driver’s license and buys a marvelous Buick coupe. He rediscovers sleeping! He slept eight hours the night before without waking up, which hadn’t happened to him for twenty-five years!
He leaves New York on August 1 to relax at Rangeley Lakes in Maine where he finishes the orchestration of Baal Shem at the end of August, 1939.
Trip to Oswego in Oregon, ten kilometers from Portland, at his son, Ivan’s, house.
He arrives by car at the University of Berkeley on November 5, but his wife remained in Oregon with their son.
The Vice-President and the head of the music department, his old friend Elkus, and everyone, received him with open arms. Bloch is touched by all of their sympathy and by the profound affection, help, the devotion of Winifred—who studies at the University. But in spite of all that, he is in a state which can’t be described—as soon as he is alone—he is on the verge of collapse.
Le Concerto pour violon is performed by Szigeti in Holland (Amsterdam) on November 9 under the direction of Mengelberg and in Switzerland (Lausanne) on November 13 under the direction of Ansermet.
He lives in the unknown, the darkest confusion and he feels absolutely lost here in Berkeley, like a ghost.
He leaves by airplane on December 24 for Portland in order to spend the end of the year holidays with the family with his wife, his son Ivan and his wife Mariana.