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BEECHAM, SIR THOMAS - Sir Thomas Beecham Sells Valuable Columbia Records Royalties
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BEECHAM, SIR THOMAS - Sir Thomas Beecham Sells Valuable Columbia Records Royalties

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BEECHAM, SIR THOMAS. (1879-1961). Internationally acclaimed English conductor. ALS. (“Thomas Beecham”). 6pp. 8vo. London, September 12, 1954. On his Weymouth Street stationery. An unusually long letter to his American accountant George Shimmerlik.


Please accept my apologies for waiting so long to communicate with you: but we have been in the throes of acquiring and settling in two new residences since last June, with all the turmoil and trouble of moving and removing. Also a heap of unexpectedly fresh business, some of which I am only now bringing to a head. Here is something that concerns you personally. I am selling outright some of my royalties with Columbia Records. One for the expected sum of $25,000. This step has been taken to help in securing the possession of our two residences; one a freehold country property costing $35,000. Your share of this transaction amounts to $1250 (twelve hundred and fifty dollars). I am receiving payment in three installments

1) At the present moment

2) On January 1st 1955

3) On March 15th 1955.

Will you accept your share in two installments? Half in January, and the balance in March 1955? If so, will you kindly instruct Columbia Records Inc to this effect at the earliest possible moment, as it is essential that the business be complete within the next ten days to enable me to fulfil my obligations on both sides of the ocean. The individual in charge of the affair is

David Oppenheim Esq

Columbia Records Inc.

799 Seventh Avenue, N.Y.

I may say that Mr. Schulhof is postponing his participation in the sale until next year.

I should be further obliged if you would send me a copy of your consent and instructions to Columbia adverting to the letter which you received some time ago from my firm of accountants in London in which they requested the meaning of the word ‘consent dividend’, I should like an explanation of the term. It may be that although I received no money payment in respect of the same, I might be liable for tax upon such dividend here. In their words ‘consent’ not to receive payment of a dividend in any way due to me, does not in English tax law absolve me from the necessity of paying tax upon it!! I am referring of course to the tax return you made to Washington sometime in the first part of 1952 in connection with British Promotion dissolution.

Regarding the suggestion that you and Mr. Neuman should receive the income on behalf of Lady Beecham and myself that is earned by us in the States, this is still engaging the attention of learned attorneys and counsel on this side. It is possible that some kind of ‘trust’ might have to be created in order to secure the sort of advantages we talked about. This I will deal with later. The immediate question is the royalty sale and I should be grateful for your assistance in carrying this through as planned – especially as regards expedition, in view of what I have hinted above. Kindest wishes from Lady Beecham and myself to you and Mr. Neuman…”


Accompanied by a March 5, (1949), 3-page ALS by Beecham’s second wife, pianist BETTY HUMBY BEECHAM (1908-1958, “Betty Beecham”) about tax matters and royalties on the recordings and publication of compositions by English composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934).


An autodidact from a wealthy industrialist family (which made its fortune in the production of “Beecham’s Pills” laxatives), Beecham’s conducting career was characterized by prodigious enterprise in which he used his personal fortune to promote the art he extolled and wished others to enjoy. Having made his conducting debut in 1905, Beecham’s first undertaking of great importance was to form, in 1909, the Beecham Symphony Orchestra, “a band of carefully chosen young players who gave adventurous concerts, toured, and played for opera and ballet,” (The New Grove Dictionary). In 1911, he introduced London audiences to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, as well as compositions by Delius, whose work he championed and who became a good friend. Over the years, Beecham formed numerous orchestras and conducted internationally. “This dynamic, many-sided, restless founder of orchestras and planner of opera seasons was first and foremost...‘the most gifted executing musician England has ever produced,’” (ibid.).


Beecham’s second wife, Betty, was a noted concert pianist 29 years his junior, for whom he divorced his first wife in 1943. Although they had known each other for roughly a decade, it was upon being reintroduced by their manager Andrew Schulhof (1895-1960)while they were touring in the United Statesduring World War II that the pair began a romantic relationship. Betty is best remembered for her performance of Delius’ Piano Concerto for which her husband conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.


Beecham’s recording career with Columbia Gramophone Company began in 1915 and included more than 150 recordings. American clarinetist David Oppenheim (1922-2007) directed Columbia Records’ Masterworks Division from 1950-1959. He went on to be a television producer and instrumental in developing New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Shimmerlik was an American accountant and partner in the firm Adelstein, Burak, and Shimmerlik, which represented the financial interests of a number of musicians, composers and conductors.


In addition to his own knighthood bestowed in 1916, Beecham succeeded to his father’s baronetcy upon the latter’s death the same year.


Written on pale gray stationery. Folded into quarters. With a slight paperclip indentation in the upper margin. In fine condition.



Item #20412


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