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Your letters, unlike so many others, are always so welcome, and I thank you most sincerely for all the goodness, kindness, honesty and warmth of feeling that the continuance of our friendship brings with it. For even though you may not always be able to communicate pleasant or enjoyable news, still things disagreeable I can tolerate more readily from you, because of your ever moderate and characteristically steadfast interpretation. The experience you had lately to make with Y.Z. I regret sincerely, and would gladly make you some compensation for a loss that is as unexpected as it is unfortunate. But I am sorry to say I do not know of any one who would exactly suit you. There is truly a great dearth of men [Menschen] in this world! When they are put to the test they prove themselves useless. My ten years' service in Weimar gave me abundant proof of this!
Probably you will just have to drag on with your contributors, till we finally get into smoother water again. It is more than three months since I received any numbers of the Neue Zeitschr.; do not forget to enclose the numbers in the next sending (together with the music I want from Hartel), and address always to "Madonna del Rosario (of which a photograph herewith), Monte Mario--Rome."
Kahnt's willingness to publish the score of the two Psalms is very flattering to me. He shall have the ma.n.u.script soon, and I should like to enclose the instrumentation of the Songs from Wilhelm Tell. Should a convenient opportunity occur some kindly- disposed singer might be found to bring them into notice (perhaps Schnorr?). The instrumental-fabric is not plain or ordinary, and enhances the effect of the vocal part. My critical ex-colleague Stor praised it formerly when performed at one of the Court- Concerts at which Caspari sang the songs,--and since then I have added some dainty little bits. One must praise oneself, especially when others too often fail in doing so!--
With regard to the Tonkunstler-Versammlung, it seems to me that the choice of Leipzig is most advantageous for the purpose at present, and I would advise you to adhere to this. In the course of the winter we will have an "exchange of thoughts" ("un echange d'idees," as Prince Gortschakoff is ever saying) about the programme and arrangements, and this will a.s.suredly lead to more harmonious results than the Russian notes. Fortunately we do not need to quarrel about the extent of the treaties of 1815!
Hearty greetings from your sincerely devoted
October 10th, 1863
P.S.--About six weeks ago there appeared in the Leipzig "Ill.u.s.trirte Zeitung" a biographical notice of F. Liszt, together with a portrait. Let me have the number, and tell me who wrote the article.
.--. Has anything new in the way of scores or pianoforte pieces been published that is likely to interest me? Here people speak of Mendelssohn and even Weber as novelties!
23. To Madame Jessie Laussot
Herewith, dear Madame, are a few lines that I beg you to forward to Madame Ritter (mere), as I do not know where to address to her. [She had lost her daughter Emilie, the sister of Carl and Alexander Ritter.]
The melancholy familiarity with death that I have perforce acquired during these latter years does not in the least weaken the grief which we feel when our dear ones leave this earth. If at the sight of the opening graves I thrust back despair and blasphemy, it is that I may weep more freely, and that neither life nor death shall be able to separate me from the communion of love.--
She whom we are mourning was especially dear to me. Her bodily weakness had perfected the intuitive faculties in her. She took her revenge inwardly and lived in the beyond...At our first meeting I thought I should meet her again. It was at Zurich at Wagner's, whose powerful and splendid genius she so deeply felt.
During several weeks she always took my arm to go into the salle a manger at the hour of dinner and supper,--and she spread a singular charm of amenity, of sweet and conciliatory affection in that home to which a certain exquisite degree of intimacy was wanting. She possessed in a rare degree the secret of making her presence agreeable and harmonious. Everything in her, even to her very silence, was comprehensive, for she seemed to understand, or rather to determine the thoughts which words render in only an unformed manner, and worked them out in her n.o.ble heart.
May her soul live for ever in the fulness of the light and peace of G.o.d!--
Very cordially yours,
October 15th, 1863
(Madonna Del Rosario, Monte Mario.)
Pray excuse my delay in these few lines. It was only yesterday that I learned your address through Mr. Sgambati.
24. To Dr. Franz Brendel
Kahnt's last sending that reached me last week brought me much that I found pleasant and encouraging in the numbers of the Neue Zeitschrift. I could verily not have imagined that so mild and kindly a ray of light could have been shed over my compositions discussed there, as is given under cipher 8. Let me know who writes under cipher 8--I promise not to divulge the secret--and meanwhile present my as yet unknown reviewer with my sincerest thanks for his appreciation of my nature, which he manifests in so kind and sympathetic a manner in his commentary to the "Seligkeiten" [Beat.i.tudes] and the instrumentation of "Mignon's Song." [The review was written by Heinrich Porges.] He has formed the most correct estimate of my endeavors by pointing to the result, namely, to throw life into the truly Catholic, universal and immortal spirit--hence to develop it--and to raise the "culture that has been handed down to us from the remote Middle Ages, out of the heavy atmosphere of the monasteries and, as it were, to weave it into the life-giving ether of the free spirit pervading the universe."
I also perfectly agree with the extremely applicable close of the same article: "Our age has not yielded its right to feel itself connected with the Infinite," and I intend to set to work in earnest to comply, as far as possible, with the kindly expectations of my reviewer. His reference to my Psalms leads me to wish that I might soon see the four Psalms published in score (they are very diverse, both as regards feeling and musical form). Kahnt's willingness to publish them is, therefore, welcome news to me, and I beg he will give me a proof of his goodwill by kindly having them ready for next Easter's sale.
He can settle everything about the form and equipment "al suo commodo" (as people say here).
Still the Psalms should be published in the same form, and should Kahnt decide upon retaining the form of the Prometheus score (as he writes to me) I shall be quite content and satisfied. The day after tomorrow I shall send him the instrumentation of the 23rd and 137th Psalms together with the score of the 13th. The latter is one of those I have worked out most fully, and contains two fugue movements and a couple of pa.s.sages which were written with tears of blood. Were any one of my more recent works likely to be performed at a concert with orchestra and chorus, I would recommend this Psalm. Its poetic subject welled up plenteously out of my soul; and besides I feel as if the musical form did not roam about beyond the given tradition. It requires a lyrical tenor; while singing he must be able to pray, to sigh and lament, to become exalted, pacified and biblically inspired.--Orchestra and chorus, too, have great demands made upon them. Superficial or ordinarily careful study would not suffice...
Pardon me, dear friend, for having troubled you to such an extent with marginal comments to my ma.n.u.scripts. I will only add that I should be glad to see the short Choral Psalm for men's voices ("The Heavens declare the glory of G.o.d") printed in time for the Easter's sale, in score-form from the copy I left Kahnt before I went away;--and now to return to the Articles in the Neue Zeitschrift, I feel specially grateful, in the first place, for the communications concerning the Hungarian orchestra in Breslau.
To hear again of my Ex-Chamber-Virtuoso Josy in so friendly a way pleased me extremely, and I beg you to send my sincerest thanks to the author of the article for having so carefully studied my Rhapsodies and the less well-known book (not to speak of the erroneous interpretation it has had to endure at other hands!) on "Hungarian Gipsy Music"; at the same time will you beg him to accept the enclosed photograph of my humble self, in return for the one he gave Josy?
[An extremely musical gipsy boy of this name was presented to Liszt in Paris in 1844 by Count Sandor Teleki. Liszt's endeavors to train the boy as an artist failed, however, owing to the impossibility of accustoming the child of nature to engage in earnest study, as Liszt himself relates in "Die Zigeuner und ihre Musik in Ungarn" [The Gipsies and their Music in Hungary] (Ges.
Schriften, Bd, vi.)]
In your next let me have some account of the position and work of this worthy Breslau correspondent, for I have not before met with anything from his pen in the Neue Zeitschrift. I herewith send you a second photograph of my present abode, "Madonna del Rosario," as the first one went astray, but to prevent a like accident in the post I shall register this letter.
Bulow's searches into and out of the subject are splendid, and his farewell words in memory of Fischl show the n.o.blest beat of heart. When are the articles on Offenbach, etc., from the same intellectual region, to appear?...I am curious also to see what news there will be of the Berlin Orchestral concerts, inst.i.tuted and conducted by Bulow.
You mention cursorily some new programme-form concerning which "you rather flatter yourself." Tell me more about this and send me a few of the programmes.
From Pohl I lately received a very cordial letter which I answered forthwith. His Vorschlag zur Gute, etc., in the N. Z. I have not yet read, and this is the case with many other articles in the last numbers, which, however, I mean ere long to overtake.
In spite of my retirement and seclusion I am still very much disturbed by visitors, duties of politeness, musical proteges-- and wearisome, mostly useless correspondence and obligations.
Among other things the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society has invited me, during the Lent season, to direct two of their concerts, giving performances of my own compositions. The letter certainly reads somewhat more rationally than that of the Cologne Cathedral Committee (of which, I told you); but the good folks can nevertheless not refrain from referring to the trash about "my former triumphs, unrivalled mastery as a pianist," etc., and this is utterly sickening to me--like so much stale, lukewarm champagne. Committee gentlemen and others should verily feel somewhat ashamed of their inane plat.i.tudes, in thus unwarrantably speaking to my discredit by reminding me of a standpoint I occupied years ago and have long since pa.s.sed.--Only one Musical a.s.sociation can boast of forming an honorable exception to this since my departure from Germany, namely the Society "Zelus pro Domo Dei," in Amsterdam, which, in consequence of the approval and performance of my Gran Ma.s.s last week, has conferred on me their diploma by appointing me an honorary member, in addition to a very kind letter written in a becoming tone.
The diploma is headed: "Roomsch Catholiek Kerkmusiek Collegie,"
and the Society was founded in 1691.
For your wife's amus.e.m.e.nt and as a piece of French reading I send a copy of my answers to the letters from St. Petersburg and Amsterdam. When you have read them please send both copies to my daughter in Berlin, as an addition to her small collection of my miscellaneous correspondence.
Most cordial greetings.--Yours in all friendship,
November 11th, 1863
25. To Breitkopf And Hartel
.--. Pray present my kindest thanks to Conzertmeister David for his consent to the N.B. in the Finale of the 8th Symphony. The method of execution, as indicated, was the one important question to me; by the satisfactory solution of this I am now perfectly content, and it is pleasant to me, therefore, to be able to agree to your wish to undertake the publication of the 9 piano-scores forthwith, without asking advice elsewhere. My former request on this subject was meant only to serve as a proof of my sincerest conscientiousness; as soon as you consider it superfluous let it be so.
Your letter also settles the copyist-difficulty. Still, notwithstanding all the model-works that issue from the House of Breitkopf and Hartel, I could scarcely expect that the printers would worry over my bad musical writing, that is rendered even more indistinct by my numerous erasures and corrections--and for this reason I recommended Herr Carl Gotze of Weimar by way of help; he is very quick at deciphering my untidy ma.n.u.scripts. But of the best copyists it may be said "Better none," to use Beethoven's words in p.r.o.nouncing his verdict upon Malzel's metronome.
Permit me therefore, dear sirs, to reduce all these preliminaries and details to the simplest form, by giving you absolute power concerning the publication of the 9 Symphonies--provided that the last proofs are sent to me for revision.
While awaiting the Beethoven scores (Quartets, Egmont, and "Christ on the Mount of Olives") I send you my best thanks in advance, and shall hope to send you later a specimen of my small savoir-faire in the matter of Quartet arrangements to look at. If it should meet with your approval I would gladly, next summer, proceed in working out a former pet idea of mine; to make pianoforte transcriptions of Beethoven's Quartets "for the home circle," and, as it were, to make them a link in the Master's catena aurea, between his Sonatas and Symphonies.--No considerations in the way of honorarium need form any hindrance to this project, especially as in such matters not the smallest difficulty has ever arisen in our relations with one another, which have now lasted over 20 years. Besides, the way and manner you accept my proposal offers the best prospect for its realisation, to our mutual satisfaction in tempore opportuno.
.--. I beg you, dear sirs, to accept my sincere thanks as well as the a.s.surance of my respectful attachment.