Tchaikovsky / Erica Morini – Violin Concerto

I don’t really know how to start this post. For a while i was thinking about starting with the famous misquote that is usually credited to Adolf Hitler stating that “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed”, or something along those lines… But i don’t know, that might be a tad overdramatic. So let’s start with some basic facts and we’ll get to the sorting out of the legitimacy of this being a Warhol cover later on, at least my thoughts about it… This is a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and with Erica Morini as lead violinist or whatever. The music was written by Tchaikovsky in 1878 and is apparently considered one of the most technically difficult works for the violin, so kudos to Morini for doing such a great job… It was released on the RCA Victor label sometime in the late 50’s, in a couple of the listings i’ve seen the year being put down as 195? and in his book Maréchal has is down as “about 1957”. And this seems about right. When i started “researching” this cover i thought it would be possible to narrow it down to sometime in the late 50’s and more exactly sometime during or after 1957. Why? Well, when it comes to this record you pretty much have mention the Rhapsody in Blue / Grand Canyon Suite album as well as these are intertwined in more ways than one. But for starters the Gershwin album was released in 1957 with the catalogue number LBC-1045 and the Violin Concerto is very close to this having been given the catalogue number LBC-1061. I don’t know exactly how these things work but to me this would at least imply that the Violin Concerto was released after the Rhapsody and of course before whatever album was released and catalogued as LBC-1062, and that record seems to be this one hereGlazunov’s From the Middle Ages. Unfortunately that record also appears to be undated or whatever but on most places it’s listed as 60’s… So, yeah… to say that the Violin Concerto was released sometime during 1957-1959 i would say is a pretty good assumption. At least that’s what i thought at first. As said i don’t know how these work really but looking at this page from an old copy of the magazine The Billboard there is a mention of Tchaikovsky’s The Swan Lake numbered with LBC-1064, and that magazine is from 1954… So i really have no idea what’s going on. It might have been wise to not try and date this and just stuck to the 195? thing… Let’s just say sometime in the 50’s!

Billboard

Onwards and upwards. I can’t remember the first time i was made aware of this cover but the first logged copy that i’ve been able to find is this one that was sold at the end of 2009 for $51 and had no mention of it being a “possible Warhol” in the description. Fast forward about six months and we see the first mention of “Warhol” in this listing, and then of course the selling price is doubled closing at $108. Since then things have never really spun totally out of control though. Not even after Frank Edwards wrote his post about it in 2012 you’ll see price skyrocket, so i think there has always been some kind of skepticism about the legitimacy of this cover. And i’ve been part of that crowd as well, and i still on the fence today. I won’t try and force an opinion either way down anybody’s throat but let’s just hang up all “pieces of evidence” side by side and see what they look like. And i’ll also give you my thoughts on what side of the scale everything should be placed… The one thing that packs the most punch is without a doubt that Matt Wrbican has actually signed off on the Rhapsody cover on his blog. And for what it’s worth the cover for the Violin Concerto has been up for discussion now and then in the WCCC and the general consensus is that the drawings on these two covers were made by the same artist. I also can’t argue with what Frank Edwards writes about the unlikelyness of RCA having two artists at the same time on the payroll using the same blotted line technique. So… seeing as some of the most knowledgeable people i know of on Warhol’s work would give this a pass i might be considered a huge idiot for not being totally convinced that this is the case. But i like it when things can be backed up and where something isn’t based entirely on what is basically an opinion. I keep thinking about a veeeeery funny clip in the movie Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? where some expert gives nothing but praise to a modern art painting that the reporter then reveals was done by a 5 year old. And there are plenty more stuff like this, the whole thing about Pierre Brassau from my hometown is also extremely funny. Modern art is of course modern art and perhaps not entirely applicable here but, yeah…. i don’t know. I guess i enjoy hard and indisputable evidence. Anyways, i’m a bit tired today but these two covers are the only two (three if you want to include the cover for Porgy and Bess) i can think of right now that are either not signed nor possible to find similar style drawings and other documentation to validate Warhol’s hand in the design. Before the new and updated version of Maréchal’s book came out i was very curious to see if this would be included. And if it were to be included i was hoping that he would have found something to back it up. Well… the cover is included but sadly it doesn’t come with anything to support the case that this is by Warhol. At least not something that makes me convinced. He mostly just goes on and on about Erica Morini and her Stradivarius violin… He is even brave enough to claim that not only did Warhol do the drawing of the orchestra but that he is also responsible for the big violin. Personally the interesting part of this cover has always and only been the guys in the background jamming away, i’ve never considered the violin to be Warhol’s work… But as i’ve said many times before – what do i know and i would still score poorly in a “recognize-Warhol’s-style-contest”. And even though i am not (and probably never will be) absolutely 100% convinced that this is a true Warhol cover i of course accept that it is now certified or whatever… The thing that has kept me skeptical is that i really haven’t seen or been able to find other drawings by Warhol’s that are similar to these. I guess the guitar on the cover for the Madrigal records is somewhat similar in detail and so on, but i don’t know. It just doesn’t sit right with me… Anyways, i got this on ebay a couple of weeks ago on a second-offer-chance-thing and condition wise i’d say it’s pretty good. There’s the usual couple of smaller issues but all in all i can’t complain. As said this is now in Maréchal’s book and regardless of what opinion i or anyone else might have about the cover or the book it does carry a lot of weight for collectors and the inclusion does grant it the “Warhol cover stamp”.

My thoughts and feelings aside i still enjoy the discussions about covers like this a great deal, and you can really learn a lot but going back and forth and listening to what everyone has to say. That said it will not get a place on my wall, but it’s nice to have a copy tucked away just in case…

Violin-1 Violin-2

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3 thoughts on “Tchaikovsky / Erica Morini – Violin Concerto

  1. Nice post, Niklas! Well argued, too. We will just have to go with Maréchal’s asessment that it IS a Warhol drawing. But – AW initialled some of his RCA covers from the mid fifties (but not all), but these RCA Bluebird covers are not credited. We still don’t have the definitive answer…

  2. Pingback: Jack Wolfgang Beck, Andy Warhol and some Concert Gems by the Warwick Symphony Orchestra | ratfab

  3. Pingback: A look back at 2015 | ratfab

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