This redirected cover reveals an interesting glimpse at yet another American violinist prodigy who performed around the world with a short visit to Australia at the age of twenty. It is addressed to Grisha Goluboff Esq. and there is a re-direct label from the downtown Wentworth Hotel Sydney to the Australian Broadcasting Company, Market Street, City with a further re-direct to C/- Australian ( ) Theatres , 51 Castlereagh St., Sydney. The red 2d KGVI stamp is postmarked at a suburb of Sydney: LIDCOMBE/ 915P- 13 AP 39/ N.S.W. [Type 2C(T) 1936-49] (Figure 1).

The reverse is unusual in that it has a roller cancel with a boxed SYDNEY/ NSW.AUST/ 1/ 6-PM/14 APR/1939/ 1/ POSTED IN/ CITY BOX cancel with the slogan REGISTER/ VALUABLE/ MAIL (Figure 2).

Grisha was a famous boy violinist during the 1920s and 1930s who was born into a very musical family. His parents were Russian Jews who emigrated in 1914 to the USA, with most of their time spent in California (Stockton, Los Angeles and particularly San Francisco), but they moved a great deal and traveled extensively for his concerts. Grischa was born May 4, 1919 and for Grischa’s 5th birthday he asked for a small violin, and his first teacher was ‘outgrown’ in the first year. Grisha gave his first concert at 6 years, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

He was educated for a few years at a public school, but then had a private tutor. Rugggiero Ricci, another Californian violinist prodigy was his childhood friend. He played all over America and at the age of 9 he gave concerts in Europe and other countries. A German nobleman presented him with a Guarnerious violin in 1932, but Hitler later demanded it to be returned. Then he was given a Stradivarius by Henry Ford, the motor car magnet, but on Ford’s death it was recalled by Ford’s son saying that his father’s collection of violins couldn’t be broken up. Shortly later he was presented with another Stradivarius by an English nobleman and he used it until a few years before his death.

With the advent of WW2 in September 1939 concert tours of Europe were no longer feasible and Grisha’s career declined in the 1940s. As an adult in ‘polite society’ Grisha used the name of George Holcombe, but on the stage he always used Grisha Goluboff. He married Jo-Ann Johanson, an accomplished cellist. Their daughter Bethany, an accomplished violinist, lived in Canada and wrote her Master’s thesis about her father.

Grisha’s exposure to Australia was at the time of the above cover in April 1939. He gave at least one concert with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Town Hall, Sydney on April 13 and Edgar Bainton was the Conductor. The only picture of him that I was able to access was in a 1946 advertisement when he was probably beyond his prime (Figure 3).

Grisha was described as humble, gentle person, caring for other people and even as an adult he had a child-like innocence about him, with a youthful demeanor which stayed with him to old age. He died April 5, 2002.

Addendum October 2009:  Another cover was found sent from Kodak (Australasia), Abbotsford, N9, Vic.  It was addressed to Mr. Grisha Golubuff, s.s. Mariposa, SYDNEY, N.S.W. and the printed red KGVI 2d stamp has an added green 1d QE stamp with a ‘K’ perfin.  Both have a LATE FEE/ 6 15 P 18 JL 39/ SPENCER ST VIC postmark (Figure 4).

Categories: Arts and Artists