Letters of Franz Liszt, Volume 2: "From Rome to the End"
Franz Liszt; letters collected by La Mara and translated
Part 6 out of 10
Franz Erkel as Director, Volkmann as Professor of Composition,
and Abranyi as Secretary. Witt and Bulow had the first offers
from Trefort: unfortunately Witt is still too ill, and Bulow
could not come till later, after his return from America. Of
course Bulow would have received the largest possible sphere of
action--somewhat the same as he occupied in Munich, where, for a
couple of years, he acted as Director of the Conservatoire in the
most successful manner...
All hearty greetings to your circle, and believe me ever your
gratefully and sincerely attached
F. Liszt Address: 43, Vicolo dei Greci, Roma (Italia). Till the
beginning of November I stay here or at the Villa d'Este, and
then travel direct to Pest.
Pray send me news of our dear and amiable Marie.
175. To Kornel von Abranyi
A thousand thanks for your letter with its weighty contents.
[Abranyi had informed Liszt that the Hungarian Landes-Musik-
Akademie--which had been called into existence by Trefort, the
Minister of Education--had already been organised and was shortly
to be opened, and that Liszt was invited to the inauguration
ceremony.] All things considered, it does not appear to me
advisable to hurry my return. As I did this year, I mean next
year also to reach Pest towards the middle of February--in time
for Lent and the concert season. By that time the work at the
Musik-Akademie ought to have fairly established itself.
I gladly undertake to conduct a pianoforte-class for virtuosi and
teachers,--first of all from the 1st March to Easter 1876. And
should the undertaking give indications of proving a success, I
would be willing to devote several months a year to this species
of instruction in the Musik-Akademie of Budapest.
I look forward to being on the best and most cordial terms with
Erkel. [Franz Erkel (born 1810), a celebrated Hungarian composer,
at that time Director of the Musik-Akademie and Capellmeister at
the National Theater in Pest. Died 15th June, 1893] Also with
Volkmann and the other professors.
As regards the very worthy Secretary, I rejoice to labor with him
as next-door neighbor (on the Fischplatz, where assuredly we
shall not dry up "like fish out of water"), and remain always
His grateful and truly attached friend,
Villa d'Este, October 14th, 1875.
My friendly greetings, please, to Engessers, Zimay, Siposz, [All
were Hungarian musicians] and to our dear composer of the "Liszt-
176. To Walter Bache
Highly Esteemed and Dear Friend,
Hearty thanks for your kindly remembrance of the 22nd October.
With regard to the "Elizabeth" performance (at your "Twelfth
Annual Concert" on the 24th February) I am somewhat anxious on
account of the great exertions and expense which the performance
will entail upon you. Still I will not make any further objection
to your characteristically firm incorrigibleness in your
steadfast wish and endeavor to do the utmost possible for the
good of your old friend, now 64 years of age.
To Frau Blume (whom I often called upon in Rome) please give my
friendliest remembrances. If the part of Elizabeth does not
displease her she is certain to give an excellent interpretation
I am most glad to grant friend Banz the permission he desires,
and am grateful to him for his kindly sentiments.
Till the middle of February I shall stay here--and then go direct
to Budapest--and remain your faithfully attached
Villa d'Este, October 26th, 1875.
In case you receive direct news of Von Bulow, please let me know.
177. To Eduard von Liszt
Most Dear Friend,
Your letters are as full of heart as they are of mind. They both
comfort and exalt me. My prayers always include you. May the
"Supreme Spirit" strengthen us!
For me to appear at the opening of the Musik-Akademie in Pest on
November 7th, is, I think, neither necessary nor desirable. It
will be better that the undertaking (the official part of which I
did not call into existence!) should be more fully started before
I take any part in it. Hence till the middle of February I remain
at the Villa d'Este (quietly finishing a few compositions) and
then return direct to Pest.
Herbeck is said to have promised to conduct a concert there. I
trust we may meet in friendship on the "Fischplatz" during Lent.
How could he manage to have the Gran Mass performed in the
Burgkapelle? The dimensions of the work require rather a goodly
amount of space for chorus and orchestra...Next summer it is
proposed to give a grand concert-performance of the Gran Mass in
Dusseldorf (where they have a splendid hall, admirably adapted
for musical festivals). I shall look for your report of the
As regards the "Prometheus," I beg you to fix with Her-beck that
in Vienna the new improved edition, published by Kahnt (Leipzig),
shall be used, and get him to procure it from Kahnt: pianoforte
score, full score, and voice parts. If Herbeck should entertain
any doubt about the new edition on account of the expense, I
shall be quite ready to settle the small "difference" with a few
gulden, which you will advance me for the purpose. [Eduard von
Liszt managed Liszt's money affairs for him.]
I am very anxious that this "Prometheus"--who is ready to
"unchain" himself next summer in Dusseldorf and at the Musical
Festival at Altenburg--should not again be a failure in Vienna,
after his late want of success there.--
Give Kulke my best thanks for his excellent essay with its kindly
sentiments (in the Vaterland of September 17th); I am specially
pleased with the close: "In the same way as Sebastian Bach could
not conceive a musical thought in any other way than from a
contrapuntal point of view, Liszt cannot conceive a theme in any
other way than from a thematic point of view," etc.
Heartiest greetings to all your circle: Marie will always prove
herself noble and firm.
Your faithfully attached
(Villa d'Este) October 31st, 1875
178. To Madame Jessie Laussot
Very Dear and Kind Friend,
Although I scarcely know how sufficiently to express my gratitude
to you for all the proofs of friendship you have constantly shown
me during twenty years, I am quite convinced that no
misunderstanding would ever be possible between us. You know my
good intentions from the outset, and in case of necessity you
divine them with the heart's most penetrating and delicate
I add to my thanks for your last letter a request which you will
certainly grant, by assuring our very honored friend Hillebrand
of my sincere devotedness. In addition, assure him also that my
zeal in serving my gracious master, the Grand Duke of Saxony,
will never be used to the detriment of any one, and that I
especially take into consideration the proprieties appropriate to
the merits and position of individualities that I esteem and
So then we will discuss "academicamente," at your house in
Florence (after my return from Hungary, towards the middle of
February), the subject of Hillebrand's spending some months each
year at Weimar.
This could be brought about under reciprocally pleasant
conditions; I confess that I take a rather egotistical interest
in it...but without failing in the duties of friendship.
In a week's time, Mdlle. Adelheid de Schorn accompanies her aunt-
-"the Lady Abbess von Stein"-- back to Germany. She will bring
you two or three books of music from me.
Sgambati has finished a second, very remarkable Quintet (for
Piano and Strings), which will soon be heard in Rome.
Zarembski (whom I introduced to you) works valiantly, and
deserves to be reckoned as an unusually excellent pianist of the
A revoir in February, and yours very devotedly,
Villa d'Este, November 17th, 1875
If you should see the Jaells before their concerts in Rome, give
them my most affectionate remembrances.
179. To Eduard von Liszt
My Honored Friend,
What you felt at the performance of the Gran Mass has extremely
rejoiced me. "He who loves understands."
Give Herbeck my warmest thanks for the carefulness of the
rehearsals and performance of this work, about which I allowed
myself to make the remark (in Paris 1866), to a personage of the
very highest rank, that "it had been more criticised than heard."
On no account would I press Herbeck to give a performance of the
"Prometheus-choruses"; according to my thinking, it would be
better to wait and see how these choruses are done next spring in
Dusseldorf and at the Tonkunstler-Versammlung in Altenburg before
bringing them back to Vienna. I should also like to be present at
the Vienna performance, which will not be possible tha's winter.
I shall probably only be able to stay one day with you (at the
beginning of April). I almost doubt whether the "Hunnenschlacht"
could be performed amongst the "Philharmoniker" [lovers of
harmony] without defeat to me. Nevertheless, "vincit qui
Heartiest greetings to our Franz, who will prove himself worthy
Most faithfully thy
(Villa d'Este, Tivoli) November 26th, 1875
.--. As I already told you, I shall remain here till the middle
of February, and then return direct to Budapest. From next April
I am threatened with much travelling about. My threefold
domicile, Pest, Weimar and Villa d'Este, and all that is
connected with it, makes my life very onerous. Even the well-
known consolation, "Tu l'as voulu, Georges Dandin" [it is your
own doing], fails me...Still there is hope in the proclamation
"Et in terra pax, hominibus bonae voluntatis."
Once more thanks for your kind intercession in my friend Vincenz
Kirchmayer's [Liszt's former travelling companion in Spain and
Portugal during the forties, and especially recommended by Liszt
to his cousin Eduard.] affairs. When the decision has been given
let me know it.
180. To Hans Schmitt, Professor at the Conservatorium of Music in
[Well known as an excellent teacher of the pianoforte, also as a
writer on music]
[End of 1875]
My Dear Sir,
It is well known how much mischief is done to the piano both with
hands and feet. May your instructive pamphlet on the right use of
the pedal duly benefit pianoforte players. [Footnote: "The Pedal
of the Piano." Vienna, Doblinger (3rd ed. 1892).] With best
thanks for sending me the pamphlet, I remain
181. To Kornel von Abranyi
Dear Honored Friend,
In the affairs of the Academy of Music I had till now simply to
wait. [The opening of the Academy of Music had taken place
meanwhile in the middle of November, 1875.] Now comes the time
when a different, an active line of conduct presents itself to
me. I shall always endeavor to come up to the expectations of my
friends. First of all in the middle of February we begin our
peaceful academical conferences, and, as I have already written
to you, I willingly undertake, from the 1st March, to conduct a
pianoforte class (for virtuosi and teachers)--provided that Erkel
and you, dear friend, agree to this harmless proposal. My further
activity in the Royal Hungarian Academy of Music had better be
favored, measured and decided by the circumstances. I can only
lay claim to be the well-intentioned zealous servant of Art and
Please to give Erkel my heartiest thanks for the Liszt-paragraph
in the "Inaugural Address." The kindly confidence which Erkel has
reposed in me for more than 30 years shall never be abused.
The notice "Count Geza Zichy, President, and Bartay, Director of
the Pest Conservatorium," affects me very pleasantly. Engesser's
constancy in conducting the Liszt-Verein [Engesser founded the
Liszt-Verein in Pest (for mixed voices)] particularly rejoices
me. Is Gobbi's Cantata come out? Friendly greetings to the
composer and recently "well-known composer of album-leaf
waltzes," from your old, truly attached
Villa d'Este, January 20th, 1876
(Before my arrival--16th February--I will telegraph to you from
Venice, where I shall visit Count Imre Szechenyi.) In case there
were anything to write to me, address, till February 5th, Rome,
Vicolo dei Greci, 43.
182. To Eduard von Liszt
(Villa d'Este,) January 23rd, 1876
My Dear Beloved Friend,
Your letter has deeply affected me. I preserve it in the secret
cell of the heart, where the last words of my dear mother remain-
-and give me consolation. I cannot thank you in words. My thanks
rise in prayer to God. May His blessing ever be with your
generosity and constancy in all that is good.
At the "Decisions of the Court of Cassation" (the 2nd October and
16th November) you spoke so forcibly and beautifully clearly
about blasphemy, and of the symbol of redemption, the crucifix--
and thus truly fulfilled the teaching of our Savior:
"Thesaurizate autem vobis thesauros in Coelo." Let us continue to
the end, dearest Eduard, in the love of Christ!
I absolutely wrote the "Hunnenschlacht" for the sake of the hymn
"Crux fidelis." Kulke in a very generous manner determined on the
production of this work in Vienna. For very many years Kulke has
always been well-affected towards me. I enclose a few lines of
thanks which I beg you to hand to him. His "Moses before Pharaoh"
I have, alas, not the power to compose. To compose philosophy and
politics in music appears to me an all-too-difficult task. I
almost doubt whether it could be accomplished.
Heartiest greetings to your family, and most truly yours,
I shall arrive in Pest again in the middle of February.
183. To Dr. Eduard Kulke in Vienna
My Dear Sir,
During long years you have constantly shown me so much kindness
that I cannot sufficiently thank you for it. I am also ashamed
not to compose better works, so as to make the kindly
interpretation of them more easy and pleasanter to you.
Nevertheless all the more valuable is your insight and
The "feathered thief" [A comedy by the addressee, a well-known
and meritorious author, and sent by him shortly before to Liszt.]
reconciles me with the "newspaper geese." It will, without
plagiarism, win its laurels on the stage. The dialogue and action
are full of humor and wit...and the final catastrophe of the
thrashing must make an impression on the public.--
Excuse me, my dear Sir, if I do not feel myself equal to the task
of an Old-Testament Oratorio. [Kulke had sent a poem, "Moses
before Pharaoh," to Liszt in Rome, with the question whether he
would be inclined to make it the subject of an Oratorio.] Michael
Angelo represented his Moses mighty and horned (perhaps as a most
excellent ideal forerunner of Pope Julius II.?); Rossini sang
exquisitely the "preghiera di Mose," with which Europe is still
enraptured; and Marx's Oratorio Moses, less well-known, contains
many excellent parts.
"Non omnia possumus omnes." My humble self can do but little, and
remains most humbly grateful to the "Caritas Christi."
With especial regards and thanks, yours most truly,
Villa d'Este, January 23rd, 1876
184. To Marie Lipsius
My Honored Patroness,
Your kind promise to translate the "Chopin" into beautiful German
rejoices me extremely. Hearty thanks for it. I will soon send the
revised (French) copy, and I hope the work will be easy and
pleasant to you. In the 3rd edition of "Musikalische
Studienkopfe" I lately read "Berlioz"--an excellent
characterisation and recognition of this extraordinarily great
master, who perhaps hovers more in the untrodden regions of
genius than anywhere else.
The addition of the "index" is a valuable completion of this
third edition. Its success augurs well for what will follow.
With much respect and gratitude,
(Villa d'Este,) February 3rd, 1876
185. To August von Trefort, The Hungarian Minister of Education
[Printed in the Pester Lloyd of that date.--Addressee died 1888.]
Although I scruple to weary the extraordinary good-will which the
public of Budapest has evinced towards me, I nevertheless make so
bold as to offer the assistance of my two hands for the concert
shortly to be given in aid of the sufferers by the floods, if
Your Excellency is of opinion that this could still be at all
useful. In the year 1838, when I returned for the first time to
Vienna, I gave my first concert there in aid of the sufferers by
the inundation at Pest. It will be a comfort to me if I can now
close my protracted career as virtuoso by the fulfilment of a
similar duty. [The concert in aid of the sufferers by the floods
in Budapest took place with Liszt's co-operation on the 13th
March, 1876] I remain, until death, Hungary's true and grateful
Your Excellency's most obedient
Budapest, March 1st, 1876
186. To Walter Bache
Honored and Dear Friend,
You, in your London "Annual Concerts," have for 12 years worked
more wonders than I was able to compose in the "Rosenwunder"
[Rose miracle] of Elizabeth. Hearty thanks for your account of
the 12th concert, and all the exertions connected with it! I beg
you to present my most respectful compliments to Mrs. Osgood
("Elizabeth"), and, before all, to Constance Bache, the kind
translator of the Legend.
Entirely approving of the use of the mute in the passage
[Here, Liszt illustrates with a musical score excerpt]
and during the chorus of angels, remains, in sincere esteem for
the steadfast conductor and friend Walter Bache, his faithful and
Budapest, March 8th, 1876
187. To Madame Jessie Laussot,
Dear excellent Friend,
The Commander Casamorata has written to me again about the fete
of Bartolomeo Cristofori. I have replied to him that my answer
had been already received by you in the month of January '75, and
that I can only repeat the same excuses. I copy the last lines of
my letter to Casamorata that you may have the exact particulars:-
"Without reckoning that for more than thirty years I have not
belonged to the active lists of pianists and only desire the
honorable repose of an invalid, I permit myself to remark that
the duty of celebrating the inventor of the pianoforte in Italy
belongs by preference to Italian pianists of note, such as M.
Buonamici (in Florence) and M. Sgambati (in Rome), etc."--
In conclusion, I scarcely could leave Germany all this summer
(except for the visit to the Chateau de Loo), and I shall
probably be obliged to return to Hungary after Bayreuth, where I
hope still to find you.
Yours very devotedly,
Budapest, March 18th, 1876
188. To Dr. Leopold Damrosch in New York
[Draft of a letter from a copy by Dr. Mirus in Weimar.--Addressee
(1832-1885) came to Weimar in 1855 as a violinist under Liszt,
went to Breslau in 1858, and in 1871 to New York, where he had
great success and influence as a conductor.]
April 15th, 1876
My dear honored Friend,
You have recommended our young friend Max Pinner to me. He shows
himself to be an excellent artist, and I have become much
attached to him [Pinner died young.] I beg you to accept through
him the renewed expression of my former faithful friendship.
Your beautifully conceived and nobly executed work "Ruth" I have
read with sympathetic interest and pleasure. I will not fail to
suggest its performance in Germany.
How shall I thank you for the edifying goodwill which you
manifest towards my compositions? Your intelligent enthusiastic
conducting of my scores prevents any one noticing the defects of
A hearty greeting to your wife, and with warmest esteem ever
189. To Friedrich von Bodenstedt
[From a copy by Director Aug. Gollerich in Nurnberg.--Addressee,
who died in April 1892, the poet of Mirza Schaffy]
June 8th, 1876
My very honored Friend,
Your very agreeable and genial friend, Frau Major von L., sends
the September leaflet about the concert in Hanover. A thousand
thanks for it. .--.
On the occasion of my happy 50 years' jubilee you rejoiced me
with a poem, of which Iam proud. You have admirably succeeded in
coaxing such poetical euphony from an old worn-out instrument
like my humble self.
Au revoir in Hanover, and friendly greetings to your family.
With thanks, yours sincerely,
190. To the Music Publisher Bessel
Although the music which you have been so obliging as to send me
through Mr. Kahnt has not yet reached me, I hasten to assure you
again of the strong interest which I take in the works of the new
Russian composers--Rimski-Korsakoff, Cui, Tschaikowski,
Balakireff, Borodine--which you edit. You know that lately, at
the Tonkunstler-Versammlung at Altenburg, the Ballade "Sadko" was
well performed and received. Next year I shall propose that other
works of the above-named Russian composers be produced. They are
worth serious attention in musical Europe.
When you return to Weimar in July I shall better express to you
my thanks and regards.
Weimar, June 20th, 1876
Kindly give the accompanying note to Mr. Cui.
191. To Prince Carl Lichnowsky
[Communicated to the Musical Chronicle, 20th February, 1888, by
A. Gollerich.--Addressee is the brother of Liszt's intimate
friend, Prince Felix Lichnowsky, who, as a member of the
Parliament of Frankfort, fell on the Heath at Bornheim
(Bornheimer Haide), a sacrifice to the Revolution of 1848.]
Your most Serene Highness and Friend,
In old attachment I thank you heartily for your kind lines. The
most grateful recollections ever bind me to the House of
Lichnowsky. Your highly endowed father and your admirable brother
Feliz showed not less kindness to me, than Prince Carl Lichnowsky
showed before that to the young Beethoven, who dedicated his Opus
I. (3 Trios) to the Prince Lichnowsky, and felt himself quite at
home in the so-called Krzizanowitz "Palace," and in the Castle of
Gratz. [Krzizanowitz is Lichnowsky's inherited estate in Prussian
Silesia, the Castle of Gratz his dominion in Austrian Silesia.
Franz Liszt like Beethoven, was a guest in both these places.]
May it be permitted, dear Prince, to find you again there
(perhaps next year) to
Your faithful and most devoted
June 21st, 1876
192. To Hofcapellmeister Max Erdmannsdorfer
Very honored Friend,
Thanking you very much for your kind invitation, I shall
willingly come next Sunday, and rejoice that I shall again hear a
special Sondershausen concert. Berlioz's "Harold-Symphony" is to
me an old, ever-fresh recollection: the Sondershausen orchestra
played it capitally at the first Festival of the "Music of the
Future" in Ballenstedt, which I conducted.
Send me soon the whole printed programme. Can you already conduct
Wagner's new "Fest Marsch?"
I beg for Bulow's "Nirwana," if possible, and in case there
should be room for anything, not long, of mine, I would most
modestly suggest the Symphonic Poem "Hamlet," which I never
heard. Most friendly greetings to your wife, and believe me
Yours most sincerely,
Weimar, June 27th, 1876
I suppose the concert takes place on Sunday afternoon, so that
the visitors from Weimar can get back here again?
Which train, in the lately altered railway guide--as I was told
yesterday--will bring me in tempo (non rubato) [in time--not
broken] to Sondershausen and back?--
193. To Kornel von Abranyi
Dear honored Friend,
Best thanks for your letter. Please to make my apologies to the
mayor Herr Karoly and to the Festival Committee in Szegedin. [The
town of Szegedin and the Hungarian Vocal Society had begged
Liszt's active sympathy for the Musical and Singers' Festival
about to be held in that place. Karl Wagner was president of the
Festival Committee.] With reference to the first invitation to
Szegedin (last March) I made the observation immediately that
"During the whole month of August I belong to Bayreuth."
Consequently it is no fault to remain there,--if the principle is
Now, dear faithful friend, I invite you once again to come
hither. The "Festival-Play" is of the very most serious
historical significance...So do come at the latest from the 27th
till the 30th August for the third series of these stupendous
performances of the "Nibelung's Ring." The Montecuculi-an matters
will be gladly arranged for you here [i.e. the expenses.] by
Your old, most sincerely faithful
Bayreuth, August 6th, 1876
194. To Richard Wagner
[Autograph of this curiosity in possession of Herrn
Commerzienrath Bosendorfer in Vienna.]
Hast thou a moment's time for the Leipzig "affaire"? then please
come down here (where Herr Neumann now is) to thine own
[Bayreuth, August, 1876]
[This referred to the performance of the "Nibelungen" in Leipzig,
striven for by Angelo Neumann and interceded for by Liszt, for
which purpose the former came to Bayreuth.--Wagner wrote in
pencil on Liszt's letter as follows:--
"Still more incredible One!
"I am in my shirt-sleeves and under no circumstances inclined to
give my work to Leipzig or anywhere else!
195. To the Kammersangerin [Private Concert Singer to the Court]
Marie Breidenstein in Erfurt
[Died 1892. She dedicated herself with satisfaction to the
rendering of Liszt's compositions, and was also his pupil for
Dear honored One,
Perhaps the Schubert songs with my most modest instrumentation
would suit somewhere in your programme. Here are the printed
scores with the orchestral parts. "Gretchen" and "Erlkonig" have
been much used and are played out. This is not so much the case
with the "Young Nun"; and Mignon's wonderful song, "So lasst mich
scheinen bis ich werde" [So let me seem till I become], is
scarcely heard--or appreciated!
But if you will once more spare me an hour in Weimar, I will
accompany these 4 instrumented Schubert-Songs for you.
Next Saturday departs from here
Your sincerely devoted
Weimer, Monday, September 18th, 1876
N.B.--The instrumentation compelled me to a few little different
readings in Schubert's four songs: on this account the singer
must go by my score-edition as regards the rests and the very
196. To Camille Saint-Saens
Very Dear Friend
In sending you today the transcription of your "Danse macabre," I
beg you to excuse my unskilfulness in reducing the marvellous
coloring of the score to the possibilities of the piano. No one
is bound by the impossible. To play an orchestra on the piano is
not yet given to any one. Nevertheless we must always stretch
towards the deal across all the more or less dogged and
insufficient forms. It seems to me that Life and Art are only
good for that.
In sincere admiration and friendship,
Your very devoted
Hanover, October 2nd, 1876
197. To Professor L. A. Zellner, General Secretary of the
Conservatoire of Music in Vienna
[From a copy of a draft by Dr. Mirus in Weimar.]
October 3lSt, 1876
Be so very kind as to convey my sincere thanks to Directors
Mosenthal and Herbeck for the friendly communication about the
Beethoven-Monument Concerts in Vienna next March. A few weeks
earlier I beg you to send me the programmes, to which Beethoven's
Concerto in E-flat major, and also as a Finale, in case the
"Hammerclavier" appears admissible, the "Choral Fantasia," will
willingly be added with his old hands by
Your faithful and most obedient
198. To Hans Richter, Conductor of the Royal Opera in Vienna
[From a copy by Dr. Mirus in Weimar.-Addressee (born 1843 in
Hungary) the renowned conductor, since 1876, of the Bayreuth
Festspiel, and, in addition to his opera work in Vienna,
conductor of the Philharmonic Concerts there and of the Richter-
Concerts in London.]
November 10th, 1876
I thank you most sincerely for your friendly intention of giving
my Beethoven-Cantata in the performance at the Royal Opera House
for the benefit of the monument to Beethoven. By today's post you
will receive the whole printed score, together with a separate
edition of the orchestrated Andante (from the B-flat major Trio),
which shines, like a guiding star, above my insignificant work.
The Cantata was published by Kahnt, Leipzig, in the year 1870,
and was also first brought out in Weimar, then in Pest, on the
occasion of the Beethoven Jubilee Celebration. If, my dear Sir,
the orchestration to some extent pleases you, I should advise you
to take up this alone in your programme on the 15th December.
The remaining movements might meet with many hindrances in
Vienna...and, frankly, I have become altogether somewhat shy as
regards the performance of my compositions. Although I quietly
endure their foregone want of success with prevailing criticism,
it is my duty not to let my friends be injured by it.
Once again hearty thanks for your goodwill and meritorious
conducting of Wagner.
199. To Breitkopf and Hartel
Your communication to me of the 25th October has been very much
delayed, owing to my change of residence several times during the
past weeks. There is surely no need to assure you that I never
thought of causing any unpleasantness at all to any one--more
especially judicially [The publisher of "Tannhauser" had tried to
make out that Liszt's arrangement of the March was a "piracy."]
In particular my connection with your very honorable house for
more than 30 years has ever been most simple and honest. This is
also shown by my two quoted letters of the 17th February and 3rd
April, 1853, with reference to the publication by your firm of
the "Tannhauser and Lohengrin pieces," whose publication at that
time I was quite "the agreement" with Richard Wagner in
Certainly I could not, without injuring the Tannhauser March, go
all through the original, loading it with shakes, and here and
there adding arpeggios. However, if "connoisseurs" will look
through my transcription in detail, they will easily discover
that neither the variation on the principal theme, nor the
modulating of the second, nor in any manner the whole setting of
the pianoforte arrangement, could be found fault with as a
With much esteem,
Very sincerely yours,
November 12th, 1876
Budapest (where I stay the whole winter)
200. To Constantin Sander, Music Publisher in Leipzig
[Autograph in possession of M. Alfred Bovet in Valentigney.]
Very honored Sir,
Best thanks for kindly sending me the "collected writings of
Hector Berlioz" and some novelties of your firm. The compositions
of Tschaikowsky interest me. A few of my pupils here play his
Concerto and several of his pieces really capitally. I have also
recommended Riedel to include Tschaikowsky's Symphony in the
programme of the next Tonkunstler-Versammlung.
Otto Reubke's arrangement of the Schubert Quartet [In A minor,
published by Sander (F. E. C. Leuckart).] for one performer on
the pianoforte seems to me well done, though the 3rd bar of the
first Allegro should stand thus,--
[Here, Liszt illustrates with a musical score excerpt]
because in the latter case the important E of the melody cannot
be held on, etc.--
I know the manuscript of an excellent arrangement of Schubert's D
minor Quartet for 2 hands, the author of which, a man of very
high standing, I do not today mention by name. But should you be
inclined to publish this Quartet (arranged for 2 hands on the
P.F.) I will gladly give you further particulars.--
By today's post you receive my last revision of Berlioz's
"Symphonie fantastique." I have added two remarks to the title
which I beg you to notice and adhere to. Thus "Piano Score"--not
"Arrangement."...Then it is absolutely necessary to insert the
whole programme of Berlioz, French and German, in your 2nd
edition (on the 1st page after the title-page). If necessary my
friend Richard Pohl will give you the original French text and
With sincere regard, yours in all friendship,
Budapest, November 15th, 1867
P.S.--I keep the copy of the Witzendosf edition for a while, and
send you today only the Paris edition, together with the last
proof copy of the "Symphonie fantastique."
201. To Breitkopf and Hartel
November 23rd, 1876
Dear Sir and Friend,
Before Herr W. Juranyi handed me your letter I had replied to the
earlier communication from your esteemed house with reference to
the same matter.
Accept once again the assurance that I lay great stress upon the
continuation of our friendly relations, which have now existed
for 36 years. As far as this depends on me it shall never cease.
Your letter contains two proposals:--
1. To recommend Wagner to sign a legal document.
This is entirely opposed to my peaceable practices.
2. To prepare an enlarged version of the transcription of the
Acquiescing in this, I will send you the day after tomorrow a
couple of pages of notes [musical] for the purpose of an enlarged
edition. I cannot decide whether these acquire a legal value, but
in any case they prove to you, dear Sir, my sincere readiness.
My "Wagner-Transcriptions," by-the-by, were not in any way a
matter of speculation to me. Appearing at the beginning of the
fifties, when only the Weimar theater had the honor of performing
"Tannhauser," "Lohengrin" and the "Flying Dutchman," such
transcriptions only served as modest propaganda on the inadequate
Piano for the sublime genius of Wagner, whose radiating glory now
and henceforth belongs to the Pride of Germany.
With high esteem most sincerely yours,
Budapest, November 23rd, 1876
202. To the Music Publisher Constantin Sander
Very honored Sir,
You have rightly guessed that Herr von Keudell's "excellent"
transcription of Schubert's D minor Quartet is finished. It now
only remains for you to write to His Excellency, that you may put
this work in your window.
Reubke has succeeded very well with the B minor Rondo of
Schubert, only, to my thinking, he should add the now
indispensable pedal marks to it. By the same post I send you his
manuscript together with a few remarks, and beg you to thank
Reubke for his friendly dedication, and also to compliment him
especially on the refined and beautifully effective carrying out
of the subject--
[Here appears notated four measures of the theme.]
Yours most truly,
Budapest, November 29th, 1876
203. To Vera Timanoff
[First Tausig's pupil (also Rubinstein's for a little while),
from 1875 she studied every summer with Liszt as long as he
remained in Weimar. In 1880 she became pianist to the Court at
I telegraphed immediately to you at Laibach, to tell you to come
without ceremony. Your talent is such that it would convert even
the Turks, and I assure you that the audience at the Pest
concerts will be delighted to applaud you. As to the title which
you propose to take, I think it is too modest for you, but there
would be an excess of modesty on my part in saying anything
against it...so let us be reciprocally proud of it and don't let
us advertise it!
A revoir soon,--and always
Your affectionately devoted
Budapest, November 29th, 1876
Be so kind as to give my most cordial regards to Monsieur and
204. To Otto Reubke at Halle-on-the-Saale
[Now Music Director at the University there]
Dear Herr Reubke,
Your Arrangement [of Schubert's B minor duet for pianoforte
alone] pleases me uncommonly. I beg you to notice the alterations
I have made on the accompanying sheet of music-paper. This
version is not quite so much like the original as yours, but, as
the great thing is to bring out a fortissimo, we may well allow
inaccuracies of this kind in favor of the performer and of
You are requested to add to your excellent Arrangement of the
Schubert Rondo much pedal and some fingering,
By your warmly attached
Budapest, November, 1876
205. To Marianne Brandt, Kammersangerin in Berlin
December 3rd, 1876
Dear honored Friend,
What is always very pleasant and dear to me is your goodwill.
With my hearty thanks for it I send today the little notice.
"Jeanne d'Arc au bucher" ["Joan of Arc at the Stake"] came out a
few months ago at Schott's (Mainz). This short dramatic Scena can
be sung with either pianoforte or orchestral accompaniment. The
chorus is conspicuous by its absence. Johanna [Jeanne] alone has
to perform. N.B.--Only the second edition (published 1876) is to
be used; not the first, which also came out at Schott's 30 years
ago. Schott sent me no copy of it; it was too much trouble for
Berlin to correspond with Mainz via Budapest. Herr Capellmeister
Mannstadt [Now Capellmeister at the Court theater in Wiesbaden.]
will therefore be so kind as to order the "Johanna" (full score
and piano score) at Schott's, if you really have the goodness to
sing it. [It was done in honor of Liszt's presence in Berlin,
which was celebrated by the performance of some of his works.]
There might possibly be special feelings now in Berlin against
it, in spite of Schiller's Tragedy, "Die Jungfrau von Orleans."
Therefore think the matter over.
For years past I have been mostly obliged to dissuade people from
the performance of my large works. The general public usually
goes by what is said by the critics, whose most prominent organs
among the newspapers are hostile to me. Why should I go into
useless quarrels and thereby compromise my friends? Peace and
order are the first duties of citizens, which I have doubly to
fulfil both as honorable citizen and artist.
As for the rest, dear friend, if it suits you to sing any one of
my musical compositions, be assured of the sincerest thanks of
Yours most truly,
206. To the Committee of the Beethoven Monument in Vienna
[From a copy by Dr. Mirus in Weimar]
December 10th, 1876
Rejoiced to be able to help you, I will work with you with a full
heart and both hands in the concert for the Beethoven Monument.
Allow me to answer your friendly remark about the performance of
Beethoven's Choral Fantasia thus,--that I should not think of
performing any other work at this concert than one absolutely
written by Beethoven, and consequently my share in the concert
programme will consist of the E-flat major Concerto. [It did not
consist of that. Liszt did after all play the Pianoforte Part of
the Choral Fantasia, Op. 80.]
I beg you will kindly communicate to the honored Secretary of the
Committee, Herr Zellner, my hints with regard to the Beethoven
Scholarship in Leipzig.
Accept, Gentlemen, the expression of my high esteem.
207. To Eduard von Liszt
Budapest, January 2nd, 1877
Dearest, Most Honored Cousin,
I always remain faithful to thee in heartiest agreement with thy
thoughts and feelings. Every year brings us nearer to the
fulfilment of our hope in Jesus Christ the Savior!
"He that endureth to the end shall be saved!"--
I am now quite recovered from my little attack. If there were
nothing worse in this world than sprained legs and physical
suffering, one could be quite satisfied. Moreover I belong to the
very favored and happy ones, even as regards physical suffering.
There is nothing particular going on here which I need mention.
Four times weekly I have a class for pianists and pianistes,
native and foreign. Half a dozen of these distinguish themselves
and will be able to grow into capable public artists.
Unfortunately there are far too many concerts and concert-
players. As Dingelstedt quite truly said, "The theater is a
necessary evil, the concert a superfluous one." I am trying to
impress this sentence on my disciples of the Hungarian Academy of
As you know, Budapest possesses three musical Institutions: the
Conservatorium (which has existed 36 years and counts several
hundred scholars), the Hungarian Theatrical School, and the new
and still small Academy of Music. An excellent younger friend of
mine, Count Geza Zichy, is president of the Conservatorium; an
older one, Count Leo Festetics, president of the Theatrical
School; and my humble self acts in the same position at the
Academy of Music, whose Director Franz Erkel and General
Secretary Abranyi proceed most zealously and judiciously. I have
only pleasant relations with them both, and the Minister Trefort
is already well-disposed towards me, because he knows that I save
him unnecessary annoyance and expense. Most likely the Academy of
Music will in two years' time be so flourishing that there will
be more to say about it; in the meantime let us study--and be
Heartiest greetings to thy family, and au revoir in Schottenhof
[Eduard Liszt's home in Vienna.] in the middle of March, on the
occasion of the "Beethoven-Monument Concerts."
The Christmas week has beggared me. Be so good as to send me very
quickly 500 gulden, for I have hardly 60 left.
208. To Walter Bache
Truly, dear Bache, you are a wonder-working friend. Your
persevering trouble, exertions, expenditure of time and money for
the production of my bitterly-criticised compositions in London
during the past fifteen years, are among the most uncommon
occurrences in the annals of Art. Once again heartiest thanks;
please also to thank Mr. Manns properly for his excellent
conducting of "Mazeppa." Things of that kind are awkward both for
conductors and performers. But how can one go on making music
with what is idly convenient, even when this is raised into
importance under the guise of being classical?
Hueffer's translation of Wagner's letter pleases me. Friendly
greeting to Hueffer [Musical author in London, lately deceased]
and Dannreuther [Musician in London] from
Your grateful and very devoted
Budapest, March 9th, 1877
At the beginning of April I shall be back in Weimar. I am pleased
that you included the old "Loreley," with fresh orchestral
accompaniments, in your concert programme. Give my respectful
compliments to the friendly singer Mrs. Osgood.
209. To Eduard von Liszt
Weimar, July 3rd, 1877
For some weeks I have been much on the go and disturbed in many
ways. Several musical performances occasioned me to go about in
the neighborhood. On the 17th June some portions of the "Christus
Oratorio" were splendidly sung in the Thomaskirche (Leipzig) by
the Riedel Verein. Last Friday "Elizabeth" came brilliantly to
the fore again in Eisenach, and yesterday Gille, my untiring
friend of many years' standing, arranged a large concert of
sacred music (with several items of mine), at which I was
I do indeed regret that I am not able to accept in person the
kind invitation of my beloved nephew Franz for his wedding-day.
It would be much better for me to be more with you
all!...Enclosed are a few words to Franz. Arrange for my proxy as
a witness at the marriage ceremony. Whoever is chosen by you will
be worthy and right to me: as for me I should choose my friend
I go the day after tomorrow to Berlin for two days; then I am
bidden farther and nearer till the end of July. I shall
respectfully announce to the Frau Furstin [Princess] my arrival
in Rome--beginning of August. Please send me here on the 20th
July the money for the journey, and something over--about 1200
marks [about 60 pounds]. I must not have any other debts except
moral ones. Our name Liszt in the Hungarian language means Flour:
we will provide good wheaten meal "ex adipe frumenti" with thee,
Franz, and thy children.
.--. I shall visit you in the middle of November on the return
journey from Rome to Pest,--where I think of spending the winter,
Heartiest greetings to your wife and Marie.
210. To Ludwig Bosendorfer
You have been just as much a pianoforte maker as I have been, and
still remain, alas! an almost posthumous pianoforte player.
My friend Berlioz asked: "Do you believe that I can listen to
music for my pleasure?" Nevertheless we intend to continue our
Music and Piano "for our good pleasure."
Thanks for letter and telegram.
Weimar, July 12th, 1877
211. To Edmund von Mihalovich
.--. In order to obtain this performance [Of Mihalovich's Opera
"Hagbar."] I think it necessary and indispensable (as I have
already told you) that you should lay a regular siege in person
to the Intendant, the Capellmeister, and the singers, male and
female, of the theater which you choose.
The new serious Operas are now regarded with suspicion and are in
disgrace everywhere. Several trials have been made of them here
and there of late years. In the happiest of them the public
applauded warmly during the first performances, and abstained
from attending the following ones. Consequently the coffers
remained empty: ergo, it is the receipts which prove real
success. If Wagner's marvellous chefs d'oeuvre hold their own in
the repertoire, it is because they make money and continue to
draw even a large contingent of detractors. .--.
Weimar, July 20th, 1877
Towards the middle of August I shall be in Rome, and shall stay
at the Villa d'Este until my return to Pest in November.
212. To Kornel von Abranyi
Weimar, July 28th, 1877
Dear Secretary-General of the "Zene Akademia," [i.e. Academy of
Music of the Country.] Sincere thanks for your significant
communication, which I answer immediately, point by point.
[Abranyi had informed Liszt, as President of the Academy, of the
course of instruction (1877) and concerts, and had also asked him
for his opinion on several Art questions.]
1. The conclusion of the year '77 with the examination concerts
(25 to 28 June--and the "Magyar Hangverseny" [An Hungarian
Concert.] on the 30th June) has been very gratifying. Let us
rejoice in the praiseworthy performances of Messrs. Juhasz,
Agghazi, Swoboda, and of the ladies Frau Knapp, Fraulein Lepessy,
[The above-mentioned were favorite pupils of the Master at the
Academy.] etc., in Counterpoint, Harmony, Composition,
Aesthetics, Hungarian music and the indispensable Piano-playing.
The work best praises the Master: in like manner do the pupils,
when preparing themselves for pre-eminence, praise their teacher.
The "Zene Akademia" has not to work for the universally usual
kind of musical study, but has indeed a weightier, higher task to
2. The publication of your "Academic lectures" I had especially
recommended to His Excellency Minister Trefort. "Suitable
teaching and departmental books" printed in the Hungarian
language are inaccessible. You, my honored Secretary-General,
have to look after that,--and the Minister will certainly support
your scientific-patriotic work for the use and benefit of
learners and teachers at the "Zene Akademia"--and further, in all
3. As to the "Plan of classes in the department for Church music,
Singing and Organ," I can now only repeat my previously expressed
wish that the right and able person of good working capability
may be found for conducting these classes. Neither invalids nor
dabblers may officiate at No. 4, Fischplatz!--[Liszt's house,
and, for the time, the locale of the Academy.] If unfortunately
the right reverend Herr F. Witt should continue unable to fill
the post offered to him in Budapest, I shall propose that the new
director should come for a year on trial. And a complaisant sort
of Protection is thereby to be avoided, for the matter in
question is nothing less than the worthy thriving and culture of
Church music in Hungary.
4. I consider as necessary the appointment of an experienced
Pianoforte Professor, one who is pushing forwards, and who will
be able to relieve our highly honored Director Herr F. Erkel of a
part of his very meritorious but excessive exertions. Meanwhile I
protest strongly against desiring to have a professorship without
salary. Fees with honor; judicious restrictions without beggarly
management; otherwise we shall come to grief.
5. I beg that my "jubilee-stipend," entrusted to me in the most
honorable manner by the municipality of Budapest, may next year
('78) be apportioned to the same artists as this year. I will
gladly sign all the papers having reference to this. Looking
forward to the speedy appearance of your Study of Harmony, and of
the collected writings of our never-to-be-forgotten friend
Mosonyi, together with his biography and Abranyi's new
compositions, and greeting your laudable and persistent endeavors
in the cause of Art with sympathetic recognition,
I remain, with best regards, yours truly,
Next week I journey farther--shall be in Rome by the middle of
August--and in November in Pest, where I intend to spend the
winter again. Write to me in September: my address will be Villa
d'Este, Tivoli, (presso) Roma, Italia.
I beg you to give the enclosed lines to Frau Knapp.
213. To the Music Publisher Constantin Sander
Very dear Sir,
I shall have much pleasure in preparing the re-discovered
manuscript of the "Harold Symphony" (Score for Piano and Alto
[viola]) for the dress and in entrusting it to you. Send me the
manuscript soon, together with the original score of Berlioz,
which is necessary for the accurate revision of the arrangement.
My fee shall be a moderate one, as I am pleased that your firm is
going to publish this arrangement, which was finished in
Switzerland forty years ago. I would have made it public long
since, if the manuscript had not been lost.
Villa d'Este, Tivoli (near Rome), September 5th, 1877
Please send with it a copy of the excellent Trio of Edward
Napravnik. My friend Sgambati will produce it publicly in Rome,
and make it a success.
214. To Adelheid von Schorn at Weimar
Dear and honored One,
When one is at a loss what to say or write, well--one tries to
help oneself with music. Enclosed I forward you the song of your
noble-hearted mother: "Ach, was ist Leben doch so schwer!" [Ah,
why is life so burdensome!] My setting is so managed that you
will easily master it, as well in the singing as in the
accompaniment. [Published in the 8th book of Songs under the
title "Sei still" ("Be still")]
Rome, September 15th, 1877
215. To Breitkopf and Hartel
.--. May my slight share in your edition of Chopin's works, which
nearly all belong to your firm, be of use to you. I remarked
before how little really remains to be done to Chopin's
compositions, as he himself, with praiseworthy and exceptional
accuracy, added every possible instruction to the performer--even
to the pedal indications, which in no other author appear so
frequently.--Your collaborators will certainly find accuracy and
authenticity of the original text in Karl Klindworth's Moscow
edition of Chopin. I chose the "Etudes," because the first volume
was dedicated to me, and the second too for the matter of that
(at that time). I gladly dispense with a revision of both, and
beg you particularly, dear Sirs, not to expose me to an unseemly
rivalry. I will always maintain a most peaceful attitude towards
my honored colleagues, and, wherever they please, allow their
influence and opinion to have free play.
According to your letter, you repudiate the idea of "an
instructive edition with other additions" of Chopin's works. Are
then the directions for fingering also to be omitted?...All the
more undisturbed will the leisure of the collaborators be.--
Last week I sent you the corrections of the "Triomphe funebre du
Tasse," as well as the "Impromptu." Tomorrow "Heroide funebre"
(for four hands) will follow, and very soon I am expecting the
"Hunnenschlacht," which completes all the arrangements for four
hands of the 12 "Symphonic Poems." A complete edition of them in
3 or 4 volumes (as you may judge best) will be a pleasure to me.
In spite of the much criticising, ignoring, and denunciation,
which these things have had to suffer for 20 years, they are
perhaps not yet quite done to death.
I beg you to add the Prefaces and Poems (French and German) to
the edition for four hands, as well as to the scores, and also to
the further editions for 2 pianos. The same with regard to the
transcription for piano of the "Triomphe funebre" (Italian and
German), because, as a matter of fact, a well-disposed programme
composer uses such hints more than is generally supposed. Of
course the dedication of the "Impromptu"--"a Madame la Baronne
Olga de Meyendorff, nee Princesse Gortschakoff"--must not be left
With distinguished respect,
Villa d'Este, September 26th, 1877
Till the end of October my address will be: 43, Via dei Greci,
Roma (Italia). From the middle of November: Budapest (Hungary).
216. To Frau Ingeborg von Bronsart in Hanover
Dear Kind Friend,
I am much touched by your charming letter, and grieved at not
being able to accept your friendly invitation. That would
certainly be more agreeable than to attend to all sorts of
duties; but, since three parts of these are self-imposed, I am
all the more bent upon fulfilling them; and, in order to keep
faith with myself, I am returning to Budapest before the middle
of November, and shall remain there till April. Perhaps I am less
useless there than elsewhere; it is an idea or an illusion of
What excellent and beautiful things the two Hans are going to do
at Hanover! [Hans von Bulow had been appointed Hofcapellmeister
in Hanover, where Hans von Bronsart was Intendant of the
theater.] It is a matter of lively joy to me, and next summer I
hope that my ears will benefit by the new musical regime all in
honor of Art, and the example of which will be of service and
bear fruit far and wide.
Last week I forwarded from the author to your address a copy of
Sgambati's Quintet, dedicated to Bulow; and also a Fugue
(preceded by a grand Prelude and ending in a Chorale--the same
which Guido d'Arezzo made use of to name the six notes of the
gamut: "Ut queant taxis resonare fibris, etc.!"...One of the two
Hans will tell you the rest of the hymn, which is always chanted
on the 24th June, the feast of St. John the Baptist).
Once on a time you used to cultivate fugues with maestria: will
that of Sgambati seem to you classical enough? I almost doubt it,
since in these matters your strictness is extreme. In consequence
of H.M. the Queen of the Netherlands being in mourning, the
"auditions" at the chateau of Loo do not take place this year. I
shall therefore go straight from here to Pest.
Please give my love to your children, and believe me to be for
all time the heartily devoted friend of their papa and mamma.
(Villa d'Este,) October 2lst, 1877
217. To Eduard von Liszt
.--. I am told that one or two newspapers announce that I am
going to Paris. I have no thought of doing so, and am moreover
very weary of travelling. What I should prefer would be to remain
firmly fixed in one place, it matters not what, village or city,
till my end, and to go on as quietly as possible with my work. As
this is not permitted to me, I try at least to avoid unnecessary
perambulations, do not go (in spite of various invitations) to
Paris or London, and keep within that already far too extensive
and troublesome triangle, Pest, Weimar, Rome!--So I shall again
spend the next four months here, and then, at the beginning of
April, pay you a week's visit.
Write and tell me where my dear cousin Marie is. [She had shortly
before married Baron von Saar, an officer.] Is her husband
established in Wiener-Neustadt, and in what capacity?
How are our Franz in Graz and his wife?
Heartiest greetings to the Frau Generalissimus-Procuratorin
[Eduard v. L. had in December 1875 become General Procurator.
Liszt called his wife in joke "Generalissima" or "Generalin."]
from your heartily and faithfully affectionate
Budapest (Fischplat 4), November 23rd, 1877
All friendly greetings to Bosendorfer.
218. To Jules de Zarembski
[A highly gifted pupil of Liszt, born in 1854 in Russian Poland,
died in 1885 at Brussels, where he was Professor in the
Thinking that you would spend some weeks at Berlin, I sent the
day before yesterday a letter for you to our friend Bosendorfer,
begging him to have it punctually delivered to you. This letter
enclosed another, which you will remit to Paris to Madame la
Comtesse Taida Rczewazska. She promised me lately at Rome to take
an interest in your success at Paris, and I assured her that your
talent and intellectual gifts would not make her patronage
irksome. Therefore be careful not to give me the lie, and to show
yourself of an amiable disposition at Countess Rczewazska's.
I forgot to ask her where she lives in Paris; but you will find
out without difficulty from some compatriot, or from other people
of the world, which is society. Enclosed are a few lines of
introduction to the illustrious, indefatigable and unageing
publicist, Emile de Girardin. They say of him in joke that he has
an idea every day. If he were to reach the age of Methuselah
ideas would certainly never fail him.
At one time there used to be music in his salon; he understands
it quite as well as the late M. Thiers or the Marechal MacMahon.
However, if M. de Girardin invites you, play there, as I did when
I was last in Paris (in the year '66).--
An excellent recipe against unjust criticisms (of the kind like
that of M. X. which you quote to me) is to criticise oneself
thoroughly before and after--and finally to remain perfectly calm
and follow one's own road!
Budapest, December 13th, 1877
An enthusiastic account of your success at Vienna was given me by
Mme. Tony Raal, who yesterday evening played Tausig's
"Zigeunerweisen" admirably at a concert of M. de Swert. [A
Belgian violoncellist, recently deceased]
219. To Madame Jessie Laussot
Dear and most excellent Friend,
Your "intrigues" are noble, salutary, beneficent, and would win
every advantage in the broad light of day. To take my part in
them, at your command, is one of my most agreeable duties.
[Mme. Laussot was trying to obtain the nomination of Antonio
Bazzini, the excellent violinist and composer (born 1818), as
director of the Conservatoire at Milan, and begged Liszt to
support this choice through the German ambassador Baron Keudell
in Rome, which he did. Bazzini however did not at that time
receive the office, which he at present holds.]
I sent my letter direct to Rome to Baron de Keudell
yesterday..--. Bazzini deserves the post of director of the
Conservatoire at Milan, which ought to be offered to him at the
Your most heartily devoted
Budapest, January 29th, 1878
Our friend Mihalovich will give you news of Budapest. As
elsewhere, I am absorbed here in the most difficult of tasks--to
put up with myself. Happily I receive plenty of help; noble
friendships and dear and beautiful memories light up the path
which I still have to follow before I reach the grave.
220. To Madame Jessie Laussot
Dear and Excellent Friend,
Under present circumstances (indicated in your note of this
evening) I doubt whether your just and noble efforts will attain
their end. [Refers to the as yet unsuccessful candidature of
Bazzini for the directorship of the Milan Conservatoire. See the
Without pretending to Catonism, it is a good thing to attach
oneself to good causes, whether favored by the gods or not.
"Victrix causa diis placuit."...So, if you are vanquished on the
battle-field between the Cathedral and the Conservatoire of
Milan, I shall remain on your side, in spite of my reasonable
leaning towards Caesar, and the lawful inheritors of his
idea,...not towards the others, please, because that would drag
me too low and roll me in the mire.
From my heart your old servant and friend,
Budapest, February 3rd, 1878
221. To the Music Publisher B. Bessel
You have been unusually parsimonious in only sending me a single
copy of the Ballade of Count Tolstoy. ["The Blind Bard." Liszt
wrote the melodramatic piano accompaniment to it (1874).] Allow
me then to make use of this copy to indicate the version which I
think should be put into the arrangement for piano (alone without
declamation). I add, the necessary notes and alterations, for you
to publish or not, as you think best, the version subjoined. I
have no claim to the sale of my wares, and am only manufacturing
them...for the honor of Castile!--Count Tolstoy understood this
sentiment; he only has to make a bargain: that is why I have sung
with Tolstoy his Ballade of the "Blind Bard," hoping too for
"peace" at last "for all noble boyars." [Slavonic noblemen.] You
sent me some other publications of your house: "six morceaux pour
piano" by Liadoff; they are pleasantly refined; and the "Russian
national songs edited by N. Rimsky-Korsakoff," for whom I feel
high esteem and sympathy. To speak frankly, Russian national
music could not be more felt or better understood than by Rimsky-
Korsakoff. His notation of the "popular songs" is most
intelligent and most musical; and the accompaniment and harmonies
seem to me admirably adequate. If you publish the version for
piano of "Tolstoy's Ballades" I beg you to send me the proofs
A thousand affectionate compliments.
Budapest, March 11th, 1878
Please send me in any case half a dozen copies of the "Ballade,"
already printed, to Weimar, where I remain from mid-April till
the end of July.
222. To Walter Bache
Very honored and dear Friend,
I have always to be thanking you; it is from my heart, and will
ever be so.
The programme of your fourteenth "Annual Concert" is again an act
of courage; particularly in London, where my compositions meet
with all manner of obstructions--almost more than elsewhere, from
the Leipzig Gewandhaus down to many greater and smaller
It stands clearly written, a hundred times over, that I cannot
compose; without indulging in unseemly protests against this, I
quietly go on writing, and set all the greater store by the
constancy of some of my friends, particularly Walter Bache, for
the stout-* heartedness which till fourteen times fourteen he has
for so many years displayed.
In the introduction to your fourteenth Programme F. Niecks
[Friedrich Niecks, Professor of Music at the University of
Edinburgh; the writer of the excellent work "F. Chopin as Man and
Musician"], a propos of F. Liszt, said very truly:--
1. "Form is an abstract idea."
2. "A harmonic combination or progression may be against the
rules of a system," etc.
3. "Programm-music is a 'legitimate genre of the art.'" [Portion
in quotes (' ') written in English by Liszt]
Give Niecks my sincere thanks; also to Mr. Manns and
courtoisement Miss Williams [The well-known vocalist Miss Anna
Williams]. The "Funeral Pyre of Joan of Arc" will, I trust, have
done away with her coolness.
With regard to the Tempi I am very yielding in my small pieces,
and gladly allow well-disposed artists to decide this.
Sophie Menter-Popper was recently here and will probably (middle
of May) play in Sir Benedict's model monster-concert, which for
forty years has wielded the sceptre of London successes. Call on
my honored friend Sophie Menter--a rarely natural and excellently
schooled musical individuality. You will feel yourself quite at
home with her, and I told her this beforehand. Yours
Budapest, March 19th, 1878
From the middle of April till the end of July I remain in Weimar;
later, at the end of August, I go again to the Villa d'Este.
223. To Professor Dr. Ludwig Nohl
Honored and dear Friend,
Of the many pictures of the remarkable group of cypresses in the
Villa d'Este your brother's [Max Nohl, painter] beautiful
poetical drawing is my favorite. For the present of this and the
inscription on it I thank you most heartily. I attempted (last
October) to put down on music paper the conversation which I
frequently hold with these same cypresses. ["Au Cypres de la
Villa d'Este" [To the Cypress of the Villa d'Este). 2 numbers.
Schott, Mainz.] Ah! how dry and unsatisfactory on the piano, and
even in the orchestra,--Beethoven and Wagner excepted--sounds the
woe and the sighing [Das Weh and Wehen] of almighty nature!--
Nevertheless I will most modestly show you this Cypress-Memento
at the piano when we next see each other--I hope in Vienna, where
I am staying during the first week of April with my dear cousin
as usual. Afterwards I go to Bayreuth and Weimar.
Budapest, March 20th, 1878
224. To Professor Dr. Siegmund Lebert
Quite excellent so. Let us divide the revision of the Cotta
edition of the 4-handed Schubert, and for your part look after
all the Sonatas, "Lebenssturme," Scherzi, etc.--If you wish it, a
few pedal marks. and fingerings shall willingly be added to the
Variations Op. 10 and 82. Send me both works to Weimar, with the
rest of Schubert's Waltzes for four hands, which show more
creative power than many big compositions--old or new.
With the few Schubert pieces send me also the scopes of the
Beethoven Concertos and their accompaniments, arranged for a
second piano by Moscheles. My arrangement I will forward you at
the beginning of August. Meanwhile I beg you to give the Freiherr
von Cotta my most grateful thanks.
Very respectfully yours,
Budapest, March 27th, 1878
From the middle of April till the end of July I remain in Weimar.
225. To Edmund von Mihalovich
Very dear Friend,
I most sincerely feel with you in your grief. "Non ignara
mali"...for I too have wept at the grave of my mother.
A sad but well-written book, "Stello" ("Consultations of the
black doctor"), depicts the sufferings and death of three young
poets,--Millevoye, Andre Chenier, Chatterton,--gathered home
before they had acquired glory here below.
In these moving pages of Alfred de Vigny he asks, "What is one to
think of a world which one enters with the hope of seeing one's
father and mother die?"...Prayer alone can answer this question.
Let us then pray our heavenly Father that His Will may be done on
earth as it is in heaven, and that the work of our life may be
ever conformed to the Divine Will.
Bayreuth, April 13th, 1878
226. To Kornel von Abranyi
.--. What could I write to you about Wagner's "Parsifal?" The
composition of the first act is finished: in it are revealed the
most wondrous depths and the most celestial heights of Art.
Ever very sincerely yours,
Bayreuth, April 14th, 1878
227. To Frau Ingeborg von Bronsart
Dear Kind Friend,
If you have not already done so, you will end by having a bad
opinion of your old and very affectionate servant. My share of
free locomotion is very limited. Having arrived at Weimar last
Wednesday I could not pack off again immediately without
inconvenience. I must therefore await a favorable week for my
Hanover wish. In May "Rheingold" is to be given here, and St.
Saens's "Dalila" again, which I wish to hear and see. Monseigneur
the Grand Duke assured me yesterday that this work made a success
at its first performances; and several people, who often hold a
contrary opinion, agree in their praises of "Dalila."
From the 13th to the 15th June (Whit week) a Tonkunstler-
Versammlung is announced at Erfurt. It will seem pale as compared
with that of Hanover of last year; but I want to be present at
it, considering my unvarying interest in the work undertaken by
the late Brendel and bravely continued by Riedel and Gille. After
having said A, and even B and C, I ought to go through the whole
Formerly, in the first period of your success, I had the pleasure
of applauding and admiring you at the old theater of Erfurt. Now
there is a new and very handsome one, I am told, with more than
1100 seats; besides that a new concert room which I do not know,
any more than I do the theater. I dare not invite you to favor
them with your presence, but if you should come with Hans it
would be charming.
The next time I see X. I shall come upon him to show himself an
editor rather than a shopkeeper ("Kramer") in the little
negotiation of which you speak.
A thousand sincere wishes for the finishing of "Hiarne" [The
Opera composed by Frau von Bronsart, which was given for the
first time in 1892 in Berlin with great success.] and my constant
and very devoted homage to the persevering composer.
Weimar, Saturday, April 20th, 1878
228. To Eduard von Liszt
Dearest and most honored Cousin,
The accompanying copy of the Budapest telegram will tell you that
I must go to Paris probably at the end of May. I had indeed
refused several private invitations to visit the Paris
Exhibition; for years past both long and short journeys-unless
there is some special reason for them--have been inconvenient,
difficult and repugnant to me. It was on that account that I told
you and others of my having given up the collective-wonder of
Now the telegram from Trefort and Szapary (President of the
Hungarian Exhibition in Paris) alters my negative decision.
Without ever talking twaddle about patriotism, yet in all modesty
I will not be wanting where there is something to be done for
[The telegram, dated 21st April, is as follows: "Abbe Franz
Liszt, Weimar. Universal wish that you should represent Hungary
in International Jury of Paris Universal Exhibition. Jury begins
on 1st June, lasts about 2 to 3 weeks. Please accept confidential
mission, and wire reply immediately to Presidential Bureau,
Handelsministerium, Budapest. Minister Trefort. Count Julius
To this Liszt replied: "Most ready for service, Liszt begs for
full particulars of his duties."]
As soon as my duty in Paris as an Hungarian Member in the
International Jury is fulfilled I shall return here. I have
promised to be present at the Tonkunstler-Versammlung in Erfurt
in the last week of June, and on the 8th July Weimar celebrates
the jubilee of the 25th year of the accession of the Grand Duke.
.--. I shall be much pleased to make the acquaintance of Herr
Adalbert Goldschmidt. I have several times hankered after the
score or pianoforte score of his grand work "Die Todsunden" ["The
Mortal Sins"], which, so I am told, has not yet appeared in
print. Is the composer staying long in Hanover? Probably I shall
go to see Bulow and Bronsart there immediately after the Erfurt
Tonkunstler-Versammlung, at the end of June.
You remember that I categorically dissuaded Fraulein Remmert from
giving an orchestral concert in Vienna. In spite of that she had
it announced and advertised,...and in the end there only came of
it a vexatious mancando, perdendosi!
Ah! the artist-world is full of troubles! Thy faithful and
Weimar, April 26th, 1878
229. To Hofconcertmeister Edmund Singer
Dear Honored Friend,
Your charming, gifted illustration of my little Quelle [spring]
[Liszt's "Au bord d'une source" (Annees de Pelerinage), for three
violins concertante (Schott, Mainz)] delights me anew. The three
violins flow, splash, bubble and sing--and sound like rainbow
With friendly thanks for this Artist-gift, I remain your ever
Weimar, May 10th, 1878
230. To Adolf von Henselt in St. Petersburg
[The "German Chopin," as Henselt has been called (1814-1889),
lived in St. Petersburg from the year 1838, where, after Liszt's
first visit there in 1842, they became warm friends. Henselt sent
his "interpretation" of Liszt's Lucia-Fantasia to the latter "for
correction." The above letter is in answer to that.]
My Honored Friend,
Back to Full Books