Letters of Franz Liszt, Volume 2: "From Rome to the End"
Franz Liszt; letters collected by La Mara and translated

Part 10 out of 10

[Sevilla, end of December, 1844]

You have not told me too much of the wonders of Seville, Madame,
and, nevertheless, you could hardly have told me beforehand of
that which I have found the most charming--the letter from
Mademoiselle Caroline. Thanks to her charming lines, I found
myself in the best possible frame of mind for the enjoyment of
all imaginable chefs d'oeuvre, and I could not have been more
disposed to admiration and wonderment! During the ten days which
I have just spent in Seville I have not allowed a single day to
pass without going to pay my very humble court to the cathedral,
that epic of granite, that architectural Symphony whose eternal
harmonies vibrate in infinity!--

One cannot use any set phrases about such a monument. The best
thing to do would be to kneel there with the faith of the
charcoal-burner (if one could do so), or to soar in thought the
length of these arches and vaulted roofs, for which it seems that
there is even now "no longer time"!--As for me, not feeling
myself enough of the charcoal-burner or of the eagle, I am
constrained to stand with my nose in the air and mouth open.
Nevertheless my prayer sometimes climbs up like useless ivy,
lovingly embracing those knotted shafts which defy all the storms
of the genius of Christianity.

Whatever you may think of my enthusiasm for your cathedral, it is
a fact that I have been entirely absorbed by it during the ten
days I have spent in Seville; so much so, that it was only on the
evening before my departure that I could prevail on myself to
visit the Alcazar.

In truth, if one might wish for the re-introduction of the
bastinado, it would be to apply it exclusively to those malicious
wretches who have dared to besmear so many ravishing flights of
fancy, so many fairy-like vagaries, with lime and plaster.

What adorable enchantment and what hideous devastation!

The heart expands--and then contracts at every step. Little do I
care for the gardens (which, by the way, slightly resemble the
ornamental gardens of a priest); little do I care even for the
baths of Maria Padilla, which, in fact, have slightly the effect
of an alkaline; but what outlines, what harmonious profusion in
these lines, what incredible voluptuousness in all this
ornamentation! Would that I could send them you in this envelope,
such as I have felt and devoured them with my eyes!

Here are, indeed, many marks of admiration, and you will
certainly smile at me, will you not, Madame? But what can I do?
And how, after that, can I speak to you of myself and my paltry

390. To Madame (?)

[Autograph sketch of a letter, without address, date, and
conclusion, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.]

[Probably beginning of 1845]

What are your travelling plans for this winter, Madame? Mine are
quite unsettled. I did not succeed in leaving Spain, and the fact
is that, being well, there is no sense in searching for better
elsewhere.The only thing that provokes me is the necessity in
which I am placed of having to give up the rest of my duties at
Weymar for this winter. But I shall try to take a brilliant
revenge in the course of this very year.

In spite of our agreement I have not sent you the bulletin of my
peaceful victories in the arena of Madrid [Liszt gave concerts in
the Teatro del Circo in Madrid from October till December
1844.](and elsewhere), because you know that there are certain
things which are moreover very simple, but which I cannot do.
More than once, nevertheless, I have regretted you in your
founder's loge--the first in front--and I have turned to that
side in expectancy of the inciting bravos which used to begin
before all the others at the brilliant passages!

La Melinetti will doubtless have given you my ancient news from
Pau! Poor woman, with her luxury of a husband (a superfluity
which was not in the least a necessary thing for her), and her
little impulsive ways,...she has really promised me to be at
length reasonable, steady, and deliberate. I hope she will keep
her word. With a little wit, behavior, and tact, she could make
herself a very good position in Pau. Mme. d'Artigaux, [When
unmarried, as Countess Caroline St. Criq, sixteen years before
this time, she had possessed Liszt's whole heart, while hers
belonged to him. But the command of her father, Minister St.
Criq, separated eir ways, because he--was only an artist. Liszt
thought of her in his last Will, but she left this world before
him, at the beginning of the seventies.] who is the most ideally
good woman I know, takes a real interest in her. Several other
people sincerely wish her well--it only depends on herself to
take a good position there--but unfortunately she is too
outspoken, and inclined to play tricks.

What do you know of the elegaic and seraphic Chopin? I wrote a
few lines from Pau to Mme. Sand, but my letter hardly asked for a
reply, and she has, moreover, better things to do.

391. To Madame (?) in Milan

[Autograph in the Liszt-Museum in Weimar]


I am at your feet, Madame, and kiss your hands--but it is
impossible not to quarrel with you, and that seriously, over the
last lines of your letter! Through what absence of mind, let me
ask you, could you have written to me, "I do not speak to you of
our affairs because I remember that your sympathies are not with
us"? Frankly, if you were to tell me that I have never played any
but false notes on the piano, and that my calling was that of a
retail grocer, this opinion would offer, to my thinking, a
greater degree of probability. Evidently, in my double character
of citizen and musician, I am not even to exonerate myself from
the fault you [ascribe] to me. Suffer me then not to dwell longer
upon it, and deign for the future to spare me the pain which all
suspicion of this kind would cause me.

Otherwise your letter was a great joy to me; first, as coming
from you; and then, as announcing the realization of a wish, an
idea, to the postponement of which I had resigned myself as well
as I could, but which I had hardly relinquished. Your
Sardanapalus comes in the nick of time, just as the 2000 francs
will be opportune to the poet. The mode of payment is very
simple. Belloni's sister being in Milan, she will have the honor
of calling upon you, and an return for the restoration of the
manuscript she will discharge the total of my debt, viz., two
thousand francs. Allow me only a last request, which is that you
will kindly take the trouble to read the whole libretto through
again, and, if it should be expedient, to communicate to the poet
direct any observations which you consider necessary. The notes
and commentaries which you have added on the margin of Rotondi's
libretto (which I keep very carefully) showed such a complete
virtuosity in this style of subject that one could not possibly
do better than submit with confidence to your decision.--[The
plan of composing an opera "Sardanapalus" occupied Liszt for

Thanks to God, and to this good star which has let me live many
years pretty uprightly, "as if I were immortal," as you put it,
behold me now since the end of September in last year entirely
out of the circle of concerts--and it does not seem likely that I
shall soon return to this drudgery.--I shall remain in Weymar
till the 15th August; then I shall go and make a tour in the
Crimea by way of the Danube, probably returning by Constantinople
if I can manage it.--

Next spring "Sardanapalus" will be ready,--and I shall perhaps
have to speak to you about another matter at the same time, a
matter about which it is worth while speaking to you.--

Be good enough to acknowledge the receipt of these lines; but
pray spare me abuse, and be pleased to do me the honor of
believing without reserve or restriction in the upright sincerity
of my sympathies, and in my frank and firm good-will to transform
them into acts or deeds, according to circumstances, in the
degree of which I am capable.

Yours ever, with admiration and friendship,

F. Liszt

392. To Frau Charlotte Moscheles (?)

[Draft of an undirected autograph letter in the Liszt-Museum at
Weimar.--Presumably written to the wife of the distinguished
piano-virtuoso and teacher Ignaz Moscheles]

I am most grateful to you, Madame, for wishing to keep me in
remembrance on the occasion of the publication of the Album of
Workers, and I hasten to reply as quickly and as well as I can.

I must, nevertheless, confess to you in all sincerity that I am a
little embarrassed as to the choice to be made among the number
of useless and unusable manuscripts which I should be charmed to
put at your kind disposal. After the Arbeiter Chor [workman's
chorus] and the Arbeiter Marsch [workman's march] with which I
have just gratified two Albums in Vienna, your gracious letter
comes as a surprise rather short of apropos. How malapropos, is
it not? But let us see how to remedy this.--

I thought first of a "Marche funebre" for the use of the bankers;
then of an "Elegie" dedicated to the idle; next of "Jeremiades
Omnibus" [lamentations for all];--but nothing of that sort quite
satisfies me.

In default of perfection, permit me to be satisfied with the
relative best (which will be, it seems to me, a better choice): a
Paraphrase--charitably adapted to the fingers of charitable
pianists who will have the charity to buy and to play it--of
Rossini's "Charite;" which I shall have the honor of sending to
you through Mr. Kistner early in July. An old saying of a very
old Father of the Church would, if needful, justify this choice.
"In things necessary, Unity; in matters doubtful, Liberty; in all
things, Charity!"--

Will you have the goodness, Madame, to remember me very kindly to
my excellent master and friend, Moscheles? and accept again, I
beg you, the expression of my respect, and of my most
affectionate sentiments.

F. Liszt

Weymar, June 22nd, 1848

393. To Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst

[Portions of this, as of the previous letter, were printed in the
"Voltaire."--Addressee the famous violin virtuoso and composer

May 30th, 1849

Dear Friend,

Weymar has not forgotten you, and I hope soon to be able, after
the return of the Hereditary Prince whom we expect for the day of
his fete, by the 24th of May at the very latest, to forward to
you the token of the distinguished remembrance in which you are
held. It pleases me to think that it will be agreeable to you,
and that it will tend to attach you more in the sequel to people
worthy to appreciate you.

I should have desired to tell you sooner of this, but the
inevitable delays in present circumstances postpone more than one

After the deplorable days in Dresden Wagner came here, and only
departed again in order to escape from a warrant (lettre de
cachet) with which the Saxon government is pursuing him. I hope
that at the present moment he will have arrived safe and well in
Paris, where his career of dramatic composer cannot fail to be
extended, and in grand proportions. He is a man of evident
genius, who must of necessity obtrude himself on the general
admiration, and hold a high place in contemporary art. I regret
that you have not had the opportunity of hearing his
"Tannhauser," which is for me the most lyric of dramas, the most
remarkable, the most harmonious, the most complete, the most
original and selbstwurdig (the most worthy of its country), both
in foundation and form, that Germany has produced since
Weber. Belloni has, I believe, written to you on the subject of
Wagner, to ask for information as to the actual state of the
English Opera in London. I make no doubt that if it were possible
for Wagner to obtain from the directors a tour of performances in
the course of the year for a new work ("Lohengrin," the subject
of which, having reference to the Knights of the Round Table who
went to search for the Holy Grail, is of the most poetic
interest) he would make a great sensation and large receipts by
it. As soon as he tells me the news of his arrival in Paris,
allow me to induce him to write to you direct if his plans do not
change in this matter.

394. To Joseph Dessauer

[Draft of an autograph letter, without address, date, and
conclusion, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.]

[Probably at the beginning of the fifties.]

Heartiest thanks for your Songs. I rejoice that you consider me
worthy of a dedication, and I promise you that if we meet again I
will sing you the songs by heart. Perhaps you will bring me again
into such a mood for songs as will impel me to write something of
that sort. My earlier songs are mostly too ultra sentimental, and
frequently too full in the accompaniment.

395. Testimonial for Joachim Raff

[Draft of an autograph letter, without address and date, in the
Liszt-Museum at Weimar]

[Probably at the beginning of the fifties.]

The talents of M. Raff as composer and musician are a fact so
evident and certain, his recent orchestral compositions as well
as his works for voice and piano furnish such forcible proofs of
it, that I consider it superfluous to add to this evidence and to
certify it further.

Having had more opportunity than others, during the few years of
our intercourse, of appreciating his capacities (notably at the
time of the Musical Festival at Bonn for the inauguration of
Beethoven's monument in 1845,-and of those to Herder and Goethe
at Weymar in 1850, etc.), knowing thoroughly both the score of
his four-act Opera "King Alfred," given many times with great
success in Weymar under the author's conductorship, as well as
many of his manuscript works, which I sincerely esteem, I shall
always make it my duty seriously to recommend M. Raff to those of
the Musical Institutes which attach a value to the possession of
an intelligent director and one well acquainted with the
exigencies and the progress of the art.

F. Liszt

396. To Dr. Eduard Hanslick in Vienna

[The renowned musical author and critic (born in Prague in 1825),
professor of the history of music in the University of Vienna.--
The letter refers to the Mozart jubilee concert conducted by
Liszt in Vienna, and to Hanslick's critique, in which he censured
the want of courtesy with which Liszt, who had been invited to
conduct this concert, was treated by the committee and the


The manner in which you have given an account in the Presse of
the two concerts of Sunday and Monday, corresponds entirely with
the opinion which I had of you--and you have proved yourself on
this occasion, according to your custom, an eminent critic and a
perfect gentleman. [The word "gentleman" is in English in Liszt's

Permit me to offer you my sincere thanks for the part you have
been pleased to devote to me, and to hope that the coming years,
in bringing us more together, will better enable me to prove the
sincere sentiments of esteem and distinguished regard, the
assurance of which I beg you to accept.

F. Liszt

January 3lst, 1856

397. To the Austrian Minister of the Interior, Freiherr von Bach

[Autograph sketch of a letter in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar. The
Gran Mass was in fact engraved and published by the State
printing-press at Vienna.]

Your Excellency,

The interest and protection which your Excellency extends to the
spiritual interests of the empire permit me to bring forward the
wish and the petition that the Mass which I composed by order of
His Eminence the Prince Primate of Hungary for the Dedication-
Festival of the Basilica at Gran, and performed there on the 3lst
August, may be printed and published in full score and piano
score by the Royal Imperial State printing-press at the cost of
the State.

Without improperly praising my own composition I venture humbly
to express the confidence that the Catholic significance and
spirit which form its groundwork and supplement its modest
porportions would gradually be more propagated and comprehended
by the publication of the work, so that I might hope to have
furnished a not unworthy contribution to Christian Art as well as
to the great Church and Country's Festival of the 31st August.

In the expectation that my request will meet with that assisting
favor which is indispensable to earnest and honest artistic
effort, I have the honor to remain most obediently

Your Excellency's most humble and devoted servant,

F. Liszt

Vienna, September 18th, 1856

398. To (?) in Leipzig

[Draft of an autograph letter, without address, date, and
conclusion, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.--The contents refer to
the Orchestral Concert of the Tonkunstler-Versammlung, planned
and carried out at Leipzig in the beginning of June, 1859.]

[Spring, 1859.]

Dear Friend,

At the same time with your letter I received from Brendel fuller
information about the Leipzig preliminaries, to which he will
also receive a fuller reply.

I am not of opinion that the Orchestral concert is to be given up
immediately on account of the negative decision of Rietz. Very
possibly David will undertake to conduct it, and I advise Brendel
to come to a good understanding with him about it. On the other
hand it might be expected, in a case of necessity, that the
Weimar and Sondershausen orchestras would unite to carry out the
Programme. But this latter must be as strictly adhered to as was
formerly determined, and not lose its exclusive character as
"compositions by collaborators of the newspaper only"--Schumann,
Berlioz, Wagner, R. Franz, and lastly my humble self. I cannot
therefore in any respect agree to the concession enjoined by
Brendel, of admitting works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.,
nor do I see the motive of it. As far as the musical is
concerned, I consider it impossible to give such an exceedingly
rich programme on one evening without stupifying the public; that
would go beyond the ill-famed London concerts which last six
hours, not to speak of the fact that we should have to put the
recognised classics far too much in the shade!--But, above all,
such an over-loaded programme is thoroughly unsuitable to the
jubilee-celebration of the Neue Zeitschrift, which on this
occasion [ought] especially to emphasize its just claims and the
progress in Art which it aims at and supports. On this account it
is necessary to adhere to the limits of the programme originally
agreed upon.

Finally, in case insurmountable hindrances should arise to
prevent the carrying out of this same, I have no inclination to
substitute for the Orclaestral-concert one for Chamber-music. But
the word "Evening entertainment" must, as is self-evident, be
entirely dispensed with. Our business is to raise, to educate the
audience, not to amuse them; and if indeed, as Goethe very
pertinently says, "deep and earnest thinkers are in a bad
position as regards the public," we will therefore not so much
the less, but so much the more earnestly maintain this position.
Meanwhile it is advisable to advertise the first evening's
musical performance by the expression Concert in the Gewandhaus,
until we have quite decided whether it shall be a concert with
orchestra, or only with chamber-music. [An orchestral concert
took place in the theater, when compositions by Mendelssohn,
Schubert, and Chopin were, nevertheless, included among the

N.B.-Please not to communicate these remarks to any one except
perhaps Brendel, as the very outspoken opinions herein about the
Concert-programme must absolutely be kept secret.

399. To Dr. Eduard Hanslick

[The letter refers to Hanslick's notice of Liszt's book "Les
Bohemiens et leur musique," in the Vienna Presse (the old one).]


Experience having taught me to regard as a fate attached to my
name the impossibility of publishing anything which does not
instantly gather round it opinions as contrary as they are
forcibly enunciated, I am, although quite accustomed to these
little storms, very sensitive to the kindly judgment of those
who, not letting themselves be influenced by this transitory
impulse, desire to take into consideration what I have written,
with sobriety and composure, just as you have done in your
account of my book "Des Bohemiens."-I am above all extremely
obliged to you for having admitted that, if the requirements of
my subject, and the opinion which after some twenty years of
reflection I have formed of Bohemian music, compel me to
attribute to a nomad people an art thoroughly imbued with a
poetry which could only have been developed in a wandering
nation, I have none the less endeavored to bring into prominence
everything for which this art is indebted to the comprehension
and taste which the Hungarians have always had for the music of
Bohemia. I desire in no way to diminish the merit of the works,
while at the same time I see the impossibility of considering as
emanating from them the expression of sentiments which could not
in their nature belong to them, however sympathetically they were
associated therewith.--

Still, the point which I notice first, in consequence of the very
violent and premature attacks of which I have been the object, is
not the one which I regard as the most important in my volume. As
a matter of fact it would signify little to me as artist to know
whether this music is originally from India or Tartary. That
which has appeared to me worthy the study of an artist is this
music itself, its meaning, and the feelings it is destined to
reproduce.--It is in trying clearly to account for these latter
that I have only found it possible to connect them with people
placed in the exceptional conditions of the Bohemians; and it is
through asking myself what the poetry of this wandering life
would be (a question so often raised), that I have become
convinced that it must be identical with that which breathes in
the Art of the Bohemians. This identity once made evident to my
mind, I have naturally sought to make it felt by and evident to
my readers. The better to succeed in this I have corroborated my
opinion by grouping together as a sort of complement various
suppositions about the question of these sources. But the
scientific side of this question has never been, in my eyes,
anything but very accessory; I should probably not have taken up
the pen to discuss it. If I have raised it, that has been the
consequence, not the aim of my work. Artist, and poet if you
like, I am only interested in seeing and describing the poetical
and psychological side of my thesis. I have sought in speech the
power of depicting, with less fire and allurement possibly, but
with more precision than music has done, some impressions which
are not derived from science or polemics-which come from the
heart and appeal to the imagination.

Poetical and descriptive prose being little used in Germany, I
can easily conceive that, on the announcement of the title of my
book, a set of lectures, rather than a kind of poem in prose,
will be expected. I own that I would never have attempted to
lecture on a subject the materials of which did not appear to me
sufficient for this purpose. How small a number of people,
moreover, would have been interested in learning the little which
it would be allowable to affirm in this case? Whilst the
expression of the innermost and deep feelings, whatever they be,
from the moment that they have been powerful enough to inspire an
art, is never entirely unattractive, even to the more extended
circle which includes not alone musicians, but all those who feel
and wish to understand music. Thanking you once more, Sir, for
the perfect impartiality and clearness with which you have stated
and criticised the compilation of my book, I beg you to accept
this expression of my complete esteem and distinguished

F. Liszt

September 20th, 1859



This volume of "Letters of Franz Liszt" is the second volume of a
2-volume set. The letters were selected by La Mara, and
translated into English by Constance Bache. The edition used was
an original 1894 Charles Scribner edition (New York), printed in
America. Each page was cut out of the book with an X-acto knife
and fed into an Automatic Document Feeder Scanner to make this e-
text; hence, the original book was, well, ruined in order to save

Some adaptations from the original text were made while
formatting it for an e-text. Italics in the original book were
ignored in making this e-text, unless they referred to proper
nouns, in which case they are put in quotes in the e-text.
Italics are problematic because they are not easily rendered in
ASCII text, although, unlike in the first volume, they often add
some useful emphasis to Liszt's expression.

Almost everything occurring in brackets [ ] are original
footnotes inserted into the text. The marking .--. appeared in
the original volumes and indicates points where original material
in the letters was lost or fragmented.

Also, special German characters like U with an umlaut, and French
characters like a's and e's with various markings above them were
ignored, replaced with their closet single-letter equivalents. U
with an umlaut is U, A with a caret above it is A, and so on.
Words altered include Gotze, Tonkunstler, Gluck, Handel and
Bulow, among numerous others.

In addition, the English spellings of words like "honour,"
"colour," "humour," "splendour," "favour," "endeavour" "labour,"
"vigour," "neighbour" "saviour," "behaviour" and "theatre" were
changed into American equivalents like "honor," "color," "humor,"
"splendor," "favor," "endeavor" "labor," "vigor," "neighbor"
"savior," "behavior" and "theater."

This electronic text was prepared by John Mamoun with help from
numerous other proofreaders, including those associated with
Charles Franks' Distributed Proofreaders website. Thanks to M.
Fong, N. Harris, S. Morrison, J. Roberts, R. Zimmerman, P.
Rydzewski, D. McKee, R. Rowe, E. Beach, M. Beauchamp, K. Rieff,
D. Maddock, T. Mills, B. Wyman, J. Hyllegaard, T. McDermott, M.
Taylor, K. Peterson and several others for proof-reading.

This e-text is public domain, freely copyable and distributable
for any non-commercial purpose, and may be included without
royalty or permission on a mass media storage product, such as a
cd-rom, that contains at least 50 public domain electronic texts,
even if offered for commercial purposes. Any other commercial
usage requires permission. The biographical sketch was prepared
for this e-text and is also not copyright and is public domain.


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