Letters of Franz Liszt, Volume 2: "From Rome to the End"
Franz Liszt; letters collected by La Mara and translated
Part 8 out of 10
to ask you to reduce your recital to the average proportion. An
hour and a half of pianoforte music of mine, however admirably
played, is more than sufficient.
M. Becquet, President of the Brussels Musical Society, writes to
me concerning the performance of my Elizabeth, and M. Radoux,
Director of the Liege Conservatoire, likewise. I fear the
translation of the libretto and its proper adaptation to the work
will be impediments. Nevertheless, if your friend Franz Servais
were good enough to undertake the work of revision and of
intelligent adaptation to the vocal parts, I should be more easy
in my mind, and should only wish to look through the whole before
the publisher, Kahnt, prints the French version under the German
original. I am now writing this to M. Becquet. Pray give my
cordial regards to Franz Servais and my grateful remembrances to
Enclosed are the photographs with signature for MM. Dumon and
Dufour; to which I add a third (recently taken in Rome) for
I am honored, flattered, and also...overwhelmed by numbers of
letters. I have received more than a hundred during the last six
weeks; I should have to give ten hours a day to letter-writing if
I were to attempt to pay my debts of correspondence: this I
cannot do. Even the state of my health, which is not bad but
forbids any continuous occupation, is opposed to it. Besides,
when my old mania for writing music lays hold of me--as is the
case just now--I feel quite unable to use my pen in any other
way. I therefore beg you to convey my apologies and very
affectionate thanks to M. and Mme. Tardieu for the kindness they
I hope to repeat all this to them personally, for it is not said
that I shall not return to Brussels, although travelling is
becoming arduous for me. M. Tardieu's present of spirituous
liquid has restored me several evenings during my work,...which
may be superfluous, but completes what has gone before.
Your very devoted friend,
Rome, December 4th, 1881
I remain here till the first week in January at Via and Hotel
285. To Camille Saint-Saens
Much-Esteemed Dear Friend,
You are not one of those who are easily forgotten, and you have
won your fame valiantly. My feelings of sincere admiration and
gratitude have followed you for many years; they are confirmed
and increased by the proofs you give of constant and active
I wrote to you last summer from Magdeburg on the occasion of the
festival. Your remarkable work "La Lyre et la Harpe" figured on
the programme; a delay in the translation and in the study of the
choruses obliged me, to my great regret, to defer the performance
of it till next summer, when the Tonkunstler-Versammlung, which
is honored by your active membership and has just named me its
Honorary President, will again meet.
Before Christmas Furstner, the publisher, will send you, from me,
three copies (score and arrangements for pianoforte solo and
duet) of my second Mephistopheles Waltz, dedicated to Camille
Saint-Saens. I thank you cordially for giving it so hearty a
welcome. No one more than myself feels the disproportion in my
compositions between the good-will and the effective result. Yet
I go on writing--not without fatigue--from inner necessity and
old habit. We are not forbidden to aspire towards higher things:
it is the attainment of our end which remains the note of
interrogation, being in this something like the end to the
Mephistopheles Waltz on b, f--
[Here, Liszt illustrates with a musical score excerpt]
intervals which are indicated in the first bars of the piece.
You intimate the friendly desire that I should revisit Paris.
Travelling at my age becomes burdensome, and I greatly fear that
I should be found out of place in capitals like Paris or London,
where no immediate obligation calls me. This fear does not make
me less grateful towards the public, and especially towards my
Parisian friends, to whom I acknowledge myself to be so greatly
indebted. Besides, I should not like completely to give up the
thought of ever seeing them again, although the deplorable
performance of the Gran Mass in 1866 left a painful impression
This is easily explained on both sides. Nevertheless, it would be
too much for me in future to expose myself to such
misapprehensions. Without false modesty or foolish vanity I
cannot allow myself to be classed among the celebrated pianists
who have gone astray in composing failures.
By the way, allow me to ask a question. If I were to return to
Paris, would you feel disposed, dear friend, to repeat your
former offence by conducting any of my works in I know not what
orchestral concert? I dare not ask you to do it, but, supposing
that a favorable opportunity should occur, I should be very proud
to be present. Meanwhile be so good as to remember me very kindly
to Viscount Delaborde, and to thank your colleague of the
Institute, Massenet, sincerely for his telegram. He will excuse
me for not answering him at once. To fulfil the duties of a
correspondent is an insoluble problem for your very grateful and
Rome, December 8th, 1887.
256. To Ludwig Bosendorfer
Very Dear Friend,
I was raised to a very exhilarated state of mind by the many
tokens of sympathy and friendship on the 22nd October. [Liszt's
70th birthday.] To give it expression, I wrote several pages of
music, but no letters at all. Antipathy to letter-writing is
becoming a malady with me...Have the kindness to beg my friends
in Vienna to excuse this. Perhaps I may yet live long epough to
prove my affection to them in a better way than by words. My
health does not preoccupy me at all; it is fairly good and only
requires care, a thing which is at times irksome to me.
As usual for the last 10 years, I shall return to Budapest in the
middle of January '82.
My best regards to your wife.
Yours faithfully and gratefully,
Rome, December 8th, 1881
I repeat especially my hearty thanks to Zellner.
287. To Pauline Viardot-Garcia
[The great singer, who still teaches in Paris, was Liszt's pupil
Most Illustrious and Gracious Friend,
A woman distinguished by her shrewdness and talents, the
authoress of several volumes which have had the good fortune to
pass through several editions, has asked me for a line of
introduction to you. I have told her what she and all the world
besides already knows: that Pauline Viardot is the most exquisite
dramatic singer of our time, and besides this a consummate
musician and a composer of the most delicate and lively
intelligence. To which opinion, as merited as it is universal,
Madame X. is prepared to give ample and elegant expression in a
notice she meditates publishing upon you.
Pray give a kind reception to your new correspondent, and keep a
friendly remembrance of your old and most devoted admirer,
Rome, December 12th, 1881
288. To Madame Malwine Tardieu in Brussels
[The wife of the chief editor of the Independance Belge]
How good of you, Madame, to make such ready allowance for my
delays and shortcomings in correspondence. It is a disagreeable
infirmity of mine not to be able to write longer and better
letters. Your last kind lines delighted me, and I thank you for
them most affectionately. The brilliant success of Massenet's
Herodiade [The first performance of the Opera took place at the
Theater de la Monnaie in Brussels, 19th December, 1881.] gives me
sincere pleasure; all Paris, after having applauded the work on
its first appearance at Brussels, will be all the more ready to
applaud it again in Paris itself. For my own part let me confess
to you quite in a whisper that I am inclined rather to hold back
with respect to certain love-scenes, which, it seems, are
necessary on the stage, when introduced into biblical subjects.
They jar on my feelings--excepting in our admirable and valiant
friend St. Saens' Dalila, where he has made a glorious love duet
which is quite in place; for Dalila and Samson are bound to give
themselves to the devil for love's sake, whilst in Massenet's
Magdalen and Herodfade the whole thing is merely
Pray forgive me, Madame, for this opinion, which is slightly
pedantic, but without any pretension. When you see Madame Viardot
again, tell her that I still cherish an enthusiastic recollection
of her--a typical Orpheus, Fides and Rosina,--and, besides, an
enchanting composer and a pianist full of ingenious dexterity.
Have you heard anything of her daughter, Madame Heritte? Do you
know her remarkable setting of Victor Hugo's "Feu du Ciel"?
Monsieur Becquet [President of the Brussels Musical Society
(since dissolved).] has sent me an excellent French translation
of my Elizabeth, [By Gustave Lagye.] quite adapted to the sense
and rhythm of the music. When this Legend of St. Elizabeth was
first performed at Budapest (end of August 1865) the Independance
Belge published a most flattering article on the work. .--.
Pray remember most kindly to M. Tardieu your affectionate and
Rome, January 20th, 1882.
Zarembski has received my orchestration of his charming "Danses
Polonaises." ["Danses Galiciennes."]
289. To Colonel Alexander Wereschagin
[The brother of the celebrated painter; formerly adjutant to the
Russian General Skobeleff, also an author.]
Dear M. de Wereschagin,
I am very grateful to you for sending me the photograph of one of
your brother's admirable pictures. His "Forgotten" is a dismal,
ghastly symphony of crows and vultures; I understand it, and
deeply enter into his marvellous inspiration.
Be so good as to tell your brother how great is my admiration for
his genius, and accept, dear Sir, the expression of my best and
most devoted regards.
Budapest, February 5th, 1882.
290. To the Kammervirtuosin Martha Remmert
Enclosed are the various readings [Varianten] to my "Todtentanz."
[Dance of Death.] I noted them down after hearing the piece last
May for the first time with Orchestra at the Antwerp Musical
Festival (played by Zarembski in a masterly way). The brief
alterations are easy to insert into the instrumental parts, for
they only apply to the Horns, and consist in the addition of 7
bars; the rest are pauses in the orchestra while the pianoforte
All is accurately indicated in the enclosed copy, so that, should
the publisher Siegel (Leipzig) feel disposed to add a
complementary sheet to the score, it might be easily printed from
this copy. I should not like to trouble Siegel about this; but I
authorise you, dear Martha, to communicate the complementary
pages A, B, C, to Siegel. [The alterations alluded to did not
appear in print.]
I wish you all the success you deserve in your concert
productions, and remain always, Yours sincerely,
Budapest, February 20th, 1882.
291. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
You were beforehand with me in knowing that the performance of my
St. Elizabeth is to take place, for the first time in French, at
Brussels on Sunday, 30th April. If the date is not changed, I
shall arrive on the 27th for the last rehearsals.
I hardly venture to accept the hospitality you are so good as to
offer me, from delicacy; if, however, you help me ever so little
to overcome my scruples, they will vanish. A thousand thanks for
the good news you give me of the success of "Samson" and of other
works by St. Saens in Germany. He has possessed my admiring
friendship for many years.
My very affectionate and grateful regards.
Budapest, April 11th, 1882
I shall return to Weimar in about ten days, where I shall expect
to receive the printed programme from M. Becquet, which is to fix
my arrival in Brussels.
Pray thank M. Tardieu for his obliging intention of reproducing
the article of the Independance upon the first performance of the
St. Elizabeth at Budapest in August 1865. I will tell you by word
of mouth who penned those lines. [This article, which was signed
Remenyi, was written by Frau Cosima Wagner, Liszt's daughter, and
(according to Madame Tardieu's opinion) had "a high interest on
account of its poetical and brilliant conception."]
292. To Franz Servais
Very Dear Friend,
It is a grief to me that you will be conspicuous by your absence
on the approaching occasion of my return to Brussels. The Liszt-
Concert set afloat and directed by you last spring remains one of
my pleasantest recollections during my too long artistic career.
Even at that time you suggested a performance of my "Elizabeth,"
and I did not think that it would take place during your absence.
My approaching second visit to Brussels is entirely one of
gratitude for the sympathetic reception granted to me there at
the concert which you directed--an excellent performance of some
works of mine. Perhaps the "Elizabeth" may likewise be favored by
good luck...M. Lagye has made an excellent French translation of
The one thing important for you, my dear Franz, is to complete
your Ion [The original tile of the Opera now called
"L'Apollonide", which Servais still keeps in his portfolio,
though it is finished.]. This will be your advent as composer,
for a complete and resounding success in which you have the best
Yours ever devotedly,
Weimar, April 22nd, 1882.
Write to me at Brussels, where I shall be from May 1st to 4th,
and address your letter to Zarembski.
293. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
Unless I receive a countermand from you, I shall be in Brussels
on Sunday evening. [The first performance of "St. Elizabeth in
French took place on the 3rd of May. Saint-Saens, Massenet,
Francis Plante, and others besides were present.] I shall take
the liberty of sending you a telegram on the road to give you the
hour of my arrival. It will interest me greatly to hear the
"Herodiade". [Liszt heard Massenet's opea on 2nd of May.] Bulow's
exceedingly witty article on Saint-Saens' "Samson", which Bulow
declares to be the best and most successful of all the Operas
that have been performed for the last fifteen years (excepting
Wagner's),--this article, which creates a sensation and makes a
noise at "Landerneau," will reach you at the same time as these
lines from your affectionate servant,
Weimar, April 23rd, 1882
294. To Otto Lessmann
I owe you so many thanks, dear, esteemed friend, that I could
never get to the end of them. If the canon form were less
unfamiliar to me, I would dedicate a symphonic Canone perpetuo of
thanksgiving to you.
Our friend Adelheid von Schorn tells me that you are likely to
spend your holidays at Weimar. A hearty welcome to you.
This year the Tonkunstler-Versammlung, at which I am accustomed
to appear as a superfluous necessity ("le superflu, chose si
necessaire," according to Voltaire), ever since the foundation of
these gatherings twenty years ago with Brendel--takes place at
Zurich from the 9th to the 12th July.
Let us go there together, dear friend, from Weimar. I read by
preference your excellent newspaper, and am making a lively
propaganda for it.
Yours gratefully and cordially,
Weimar, April 23rd, 1882
295. To Frau Charlotte Blume-Arends
Weimar, April 23rd, 1882.
Poetry is your domain. As a pretty French verse has it, "Meme
quand l'oiseau marche, on sent qu'il a des ailes" [Even when it
walks, we feel that a bird has wings].--My most cordial thanks
therefore for the gift which you call prosaic, and my best
regards to your husband. It would be charming if you came to
Weimar again. From the middle of June to the 12th of July remains
Yours very truly,
296. To Freiherr Hans Von Wolzogen
Your "Leitfaden" are a salutary enrichment to musical literature.
They essentially promote the spiritual comprehension of the
great, sublime, unique works of Wagner. The "Leitfaden" are
already considered classical, and rightly so, because, as a
masterly piece of work, they establish a school.
Pray accept my very best thanks for the numerous proofs of
kindness you have given me, to correspond in some degree to which
is the wish of
Weimar, April 25th, 1882
A cordial and friendly meeting at Parsifal!
297. To Frau Heriette Von Liszt in Vienna
Weimar, May 11th, 1882.
My Dear Cousin,
Our dear Hedwig [The daughter of E. von Liszt, who studied a
whole summer under Liszt in Weimar.] has not been forgotten.
Immediately on arriving here I ordered Overbeck's edifying
drawings for her, "The Seven Sacraments," a serious study of
which, as well as of the commentary, is to be highly recommended.
The work is published at Ratisbon; my bookseller here is wont to
do business in Tempo moderato molto commodo. He kept me waiting,
and I had to go to Belgium (on the 30th of April). I only
received the above-mentioned work here yesterday, and send it you
today together with the "Ave Maria" for Harmonium and Meyer's
excellent "Manual of Universal Knowledge." Eduard and Hedwig may
extend their knowledge by means of it.
My Belgian week--from May 1st to 8th, Brussels and Antwerp--was
of the pleasantest. Enclosed are the moderate articles (on the
performance of "St. Elizabeth") by the Brussels Schelle and
Hanslick [In the "Independance Belge"]--Eduard Fetis, the son of
the renowned and meritorious author of the many-volumed
"Biographic universelle des Musiciens" and of the "Universal
History of Music." Thirty years ago I said to that same Fetis
somewhat arrogantly, nay almost insolently: "My aspirations are
directed not merely towards obtaining articles, but rather
towards acquiring a durable position in the History of Art."
Till the beginning of July will remain in Weimar
Yours most cordially,
P.S.--The arrival of the "Kaiser Virginia" has just been
announced to me. Please send me the little bill.
298. To Camille Saint-Saens
Very Dear Friend,
I am still quite struck with wonder at your "Predication aux
oiseaux de St. Francois." ["St. Francis preaching to the birds."
Composed by Liszt for pianoforte alone. (Roszavolgyi.)] You use
your organ as an orchestra in an incredible way, as only a great
composer and a great performer, like yourself, could do. The most
proficient organists in all countries have only to take off their
hats to you.
I am sending you by this post a parcel of things of mine for
organ. If you should find an opportunity at Brussels of producing
the Introduction to St. Elizabeth, it would, under your fingers,
have the effect I intended.
Cordial thanks for your visit to Brussels, and ever yours in
admiration and friendship.
Weimar, May 14th, 1882
299. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
Dear Kind Friend, ["Chere bienveillante"]
The telegram Tardieu-Lynen-Lessmann sent from Aix-la-Chapelle has
given me extreme pleasure. [The Tardieus, the Lynens (Antwerp
friends of Liszt), and Otto Lessmann were present at the Musical
Festival at Aix-la-Chapelle.]
My padrone di casa (Lessmann is this through his paper) are
always most excellent.
Daniela de Bulow, my darling granddaughter, writes how kind you
are, and will come with us shortly to Villa "Fantaisie"
(Bayreuth). [She had accompanied her father, Dr. Hans V. Bulow,
who played (under Wullner's conductorship) Brahms' first
Pianforte Concerto, and Beethoven's 15 Variations (on a theme out
At "Parsifal" we shall be 30,000; that will be the best chance of
seeing one another again.
The Opera of Hamlet, by Stadtfeld, [The first performance of the
Opera. The composer, a Wiesbaden man (born 1826), had studied at
the Brussels Conservatoire, and died there in 1853.] written in
transition years (50), and twice given here, not without success,
is one of the best that I know of the Meyerbeer-Donizetti genre.
The Wagner invasion is strangely modifying theatrical
requirements at the present time. It is no longer possible to
write a "Hamlet" according to the style of a Duprez, some
absolute tenor with the famous "ut de boitrine," nor to make the
ghost of Hamlet's father benevolently intervene in order to
effect a Trio or Quartet, even of a pretty musical manufacture.
The distinguished work of Stadtfeld belongs, then, to the
theatrical Past, so rich in oblivion...
As you are so kind as to undertake my books, I will ask you to
send me soon the following works:--
1st, Gevaert--History of Music in ancient times 2 volumes.
(Publisher, Annoot Braekmann, at Ghent.)
2nd, Charles Clement--Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci,
Raphael,--a magnificent volume illustrated by 167 drawings.
Price, bound, 15 francs. (Publisher, Hetzel, Paris.)
3rd, J. D. Lewis--"Bons Mots of the Greeks and Romans": 1 volume
in 16--Charavay library. A thousand pardons for thus using and
abusing your amiable kindness.
I have read with pleasure the article in the "Guide Musical" on
the Festival at Aix-la-Chapelle, and beg you to repeat to the
author [Presumably Monsieur Tarideu.] my sincere friendship.
Till our happy meeting at Bayreuth, at the end of July, farewell.
In affectionate gratitude,
I add the article from the official paper of Weimar on
Weimar, June 10th, 1882.
300. To the Honorable Committee of the Allgemeine Deutsche
[Printed in Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, 1882, No. 23.]
The Allgemeine Deutsche Musikverein confers a high distinction on
me by electing me as its Honorary President.
Since the starting of this Verein, 20 years ago, I have the honor
of feeling that I have been of service to it. Its aim is a worthy
one,--the advancement of music and musicians in an unprejudiced
manner, and in accordance with the spirit of the time. Its ways
have always been known as pure and worthy of recognition,
regardless of opposition and silence.
Let us therefore go boldly forwards on our noble road!
Accept, dear Sirs, my heartiest thanks, together with the
assurance that, ever conscious of my task, I remain, with high
Yours most faithfully,
Rome, [June, 1882]
301. To the Commendatore F.von Jagemann at Freiburg in Breisgau
[From a copy of Liszt's in the possession of Otto Lessmann at
Dear Sir and Commendatore
You ask me if L. Ramann's biography is "classical"? To belong to
the classical means, first of all, to be dead, then to be to the
world immortal. Neither of these is claimed at present by yours,
Freiburg, July 6th, 1882
302. To Nicolaus Oesterlein in Vienna
[The Addressee was the able founder and possessor of the Richard
Wagner Museum in Vienna, a unique collection, in its way, of
musical and historical importance. The bibliography mentioned in
the letter came out I (at Breitkopf and Hartel's) shortly before
the first performance of "Parsifal."]
My Dear Sir,
I have already heard the praise of your "Catalogue of a Richard
Wagner Library." It will be a pleasure to me to make its
acquaintance, and while awaiting your kind sending of the work
accept thanks for your accompanying lines,
From yours very truly,
Bayreuth, July 16th, 1882
303. To Kornel von Abranyi
Bayreuth, July 23rd, 1882
Dear honored Friend,
By the same post you will receive the instrumentation of the "A
magyarok istene" for the Musical Festival at Debreczin..--. I beg
the directors carefully to try over the small instrumentation
before the full rehearsal, with the instruments (plus the
brilliant cymbals), without the vocal parts.
The solo trumpeter must perform his part, as a Hungarian Magnate,
in a noble manner, and not blow the trumpet as though it were a
I also beg that the directors will be so good as to correct any
chance mistakes there may be in my hastily written and unrevised
manuscript score. Though I trouble myself but little about the
spread of my compositions, yet I do not wish them to be offered
to the public in a mutilated form. As I flatter myself that I
possess a sufficient portion of self-criticism, other criticism
remains only valuable and instructive to me.
Your son Kornel is heartily welcome to me at Bayreuth.
I will discuss here with Vegh [Formerly Vice-president of the
Hungarian Academy of Music.] the ministerial affairs of your
"academic, historical manual." The matter will assuredly be
settled to your satisfaction.
Yours most faithfully,
Wagner's "Parsifal" far surpasses the master-works which the
theater boasts up to the present time. May the public be educated
up to it.
304. To Freiherr Hans von Wolzogen
My dear Freiherr,
Both at and after yesterday's performance of Wagner's "Parsifal"
it was the universal feeling that about this wonder-work it is
impossible to speak.
It has indeed struck dumb those who were so deeply impressed by
it; its sacred pendulum swings from the sublime to the sublimest.
Bayreuth, July 27th, 1882
305. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
Weimar, September 12th, 1882
Dear Madame and Friend,
How I reproach myself for the delay in my written thanks! Those
preceding my letter have not been wanting, and your friendly
kindness touches me deeply. Lassen assures me of your indulgence.
He has lately heard at Brussels "l'hymne a la beaute," [By
Benoit. Performed at the Brussels Musical Festival in August
1882] and (between ourselves) did not think it particularly
beautiful. In this kind of music even the greatest masters have
seldom succeeded in freeing themselves from lukewarm
conventionality. This [conventionality] affords matter for
academical prizes such as have been carried off several times by
Madame Louise Collet of inglorious memory.
Our friend Benoit shall follow his vocation of musical "Rubens".
And Gounod's "Redemption"! Ought one to speak of success or non-
success in a work of that kind? Gounod has always kept the
Catholic religious incentive with a turn towards the sublime. His
"Polyeucte" is a witness for him.
May that abominable quibbler and bloodthirsty "doctrinaire,"
Henry VIII., be the means of a brilliant and lasting success to
St. Saens, who richly deserves it; but in the matter of serious
opera the public has reached that blase point which is explained
in the words of Ronge, a naive German reformer:--
"What we have we don't want any more; and what we would have we
don't quite know." Wagner has known how to want and to act--
gloriously, although and because. [Wagner a su vouloir et
perpetrer--glorieusement, quoique et parce que.] His work is
already becoming immortal.
Let us speak of some modest things, concerning your humble
servant. The three Psalms have been admirably translated into
French by Mr. Lagye; I will write my thanks to him fully, as soon
as I have entirely finished the work of adapting the text to the
music. For this it is necessary to modify and rewrite about
fifteen pages, a dozen of which are ready. I shall send the whole
to Kahnt, the publisher, on Sunday next, and shall inform Lagye,
in whose debt I am, of the remainder of the arrangements.
His translations appear to me really excellent, very carefully
made, and prosodically well suited to the music. I only regret to
have to give him so much trouble, but I hope that in the end he
will be satisfied with me. He shall have the second copy of my
"Lieder;" if he succeeds as well in putting them into French as
he has done with the three Psalms, they may with advantage make
their way in Belgium and still farther.
All my articles of musical criticism, lately published by L.
Ramann under the title of "Essays" (Breitkopf and Hartel,
Leipzig), were written in French. Three or four appeared long ago
in the Debats and the Constitutionnel. The most extensive of
these, on Berlioz's "Harold Symphony," was to have been put into
a celebrated review in Paris, but in the fifties it was
considered too eulogistic, and I refused any curtailments for
Berlioz...Consequently this article has only appeared in a German
translation (Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, Leipzig). What has
become of the original French manuscripts of my complete articles
I don't in the least know. The introduction to Hartel's for which
Mr. Kufferath [Moritz Kufferath, a writer on music, reviewer of
the "Guide musical" (Schott), and translator of many of Wagner's
writings, wanted to translate Liszt's Essays into French.] asks
will not serve his end at all. The only person who could give him
some particulars would be Mademoiselle L. Ramann, my biographer,
who has been for many years past on the look-out for everything
relative to my prose and music. She is the directress of a
Pianoforte School in the Durerplatz at Nuremberg (Bavaria).
Please thank Kufferath for his kind interest, and assure him
that, if I abstain from writing to the firm of Hartel, it is from
no want of willingness on my part. A thousand friendly regards to
your husband, and ever cordial and devoted expressions to
I stay here till the beginning of October.
306. To Otto Lessmann
My Very Dear Friend,
It is only through your kindness that I learn of Hellmesberger's
intention to perform shortly in Vienna a new Mass of my
composition. Hellmesberger has indeed always been very well
disposed towards me, and has frequently conducted the Hungarian
Coronation-Mass in the Hofkapelle, and several of my longer works
at concerts; but it would be rather difficult for him to conduct
a new Mass, because I have not composed one. I should think it
must be the "Missa choralis" (with Organ accompaniment only)...
Here is the list of my Masses, and the order in which they were
1. For men's voices (with Organ), Anno 48--Editio nova at
2. The Gran Mass.
3. Missa choralis (with Organ) at Kahnt's.
4. Hungarian Coronation-Mass (performed at the coronation in
5. Requiem for men's voices (with Organ). Rome, latter half of
the sixties. Published by Kahnt.
Perhaps I shall yet write a Requiem at special command. [A
requiem, composed on the death of the Emperor Maximilian of
Mexico, still exists in manuscript.] I beg you to give my thanks
to the friendly publisher of the Symphonic Poem "From the cradle
to the grave," for sending me the pianoforte version of this
composition. Before the end of October I will send Bock the
A short piece from Parsifal, "Solemn March to the Holy Grail,"
will reach Schott today at Mainz.
Three weeks longer remains here Yours ever faithfully,
Weimar, September 16th, 1882,
Ever heartily welcome in Weimar; that is to say, if the visit
suits you as Allegro commodo. It would be dreadful to me to
incommode my friends.
307. To Otto Lessmann
If one wants to be just, he must see that he speaks only with
high respect of Hans von Bulow. His knowledge, ability,
experience are astounding, and border on the fabulous. Especially
has he, by long years of study, so thoroughly steeped himself in
the understanding of Beethoven, that it seems scarcely possible
for any one else to approach near him in that respect. One must
read his commentary on the pianoforte works of Beethoven (Cotta's
edition), and hear his interpretations of them--(what other
virtuoso could have ventured to play the 5 last Sonatas of
Beethoven before the public in one evening?), and follow Bulow's
conducting in the orchestral works of Beethoven. To set one's
back up against such remarkable deeds as these, I call feeble or
Yours ever in friendship,
Weimar, September 20th, 1882.
308. To Frau Charlotte Blume-Arends
Weimar, September 27th, 1882.
My dear friend,
I thank you again for a beautiful, kind gift--"The Oberammergau
Passion Play," described by Franz Schoberl, a clergyman in
Laibstadt. The little book has been composed with reverence, and
gives an exact description of the Oberammergau production, which
seems to me especially deserving of notice on account of the
agreement between the Old Testament representations--beginning
from Adam and Eve to the Brazen Serpent and further--and their
fulfilment in the facts of the gospel. This agreement is no
simple peasant's invention, but indeed a significant, most
touching parallel, thought out by cultured priests, familiar with
the Christian tradition. The grouping, and the mute performance
of the life-like Old Testament representations and of the
Crucifixion of Christ in Oberammergau, deserve full praise, in
contrast to the music, which is beneath criticism, and very much
spoiled the whole performance for me. And even such esteemed and
highly honored Catholic musicians and divines as F. Witt, Haberl,
etc., protest against such inane musical stuff and rubbish.
Thank you once more, and with heartfelt greetings to you and
Yours most truly,
309. To Otto Lessmann
At the Musical Festival which I had the honor of conducting some
twenty-five years ago at Aix-la-Chapelle, Hiller, the friend of
my young days in Paris, took up quite a critical attitude against
the conductor and his compositions.
I took no particular notice of his behavior, but I heard that it
displeased many people, who made no secret of it to him. I was
also told that at one of the rehearsals Hiller did not exactly
leave of his own accord. As I was engaged at the conductor's desk
I did not observe the occasion of his leaving, and contented
myself with reading, some days later, his witty report of the
Aix-la-Chapelle Musical Festival in the Cologne paper. My
excellent friend, Freiherr Hans von Bronsart, replied to Hiller's
article with no less wit and with a different opinion. Unhappily
the musical chronicle is overflowing with unresolved discords.
To you, dear friend, I am ever harmoniously,
Weimar, October 14th, 1882
310. To Otto Lessmann
[Weimar,] November 4th, 1882
I shall be delighted if the Tannhauser-Songs [Composed by
Lessmann, transcribed by Liszt for piano, and published by Barth,
Berlin (now Junne, Leipzig)] give you satisfaction. Find a
pianist of the fair sex, or the other sex, in Berlin, who will
set about his task well of playing these songs in public. As far
as I can tell I should think they would bring the player
I will answer your two questions at once.
Of my "continuously written autobiography" I have as yet heard
nothing. Publishers have frequently asked me to write memoirs,
but I put it off with the excuse that it was more than enough for
me to live through my life, without transcribing it to paper. If
I were married I could certainly dictate somewhat of it to my
wife now and then. But I am glad to keep out of the bothers of
penmanship, which I dislike.
The dramatic performance of the Elizabeth in Cologne is to take
place after my return from Budapest, next April or May. (I have
promised to be present at it.) Yesterday evening I wrote a couple
of lines of thanks and commendation to Herr Duysen, for Fraulein
Spiring, whom you met here [Lives now in Jena]. She is a pianist
and teacher deserving of recommendation, and is trying to
establish herself in Berlin, and I commend her to your good
With thanks, yours ever,
Rubinstein is coming to see me next Tuesday after the Leipzig
performance of the "Maccabees."
311. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
Weimar, November 6th, 1882
Dear Friendly One [Chere bienveillante],
I am still detained here, partly on account of a stupid
indisposition,--nothing serious, but disagreeably prolonged. I
make a rule of never bothering my head about my health, and I beg
my friends never to trouble about it.
Thank you for sending the 3rd volume of the correspondence of
George Sand. The long letter of 20 pages to Mazzini, dated the
23rd May, '52, appears to me to be a chef d'oeuvre of judgment
and foresight. In 1852 few political men were placed in a
sufficiently elevated position to rule the fluctuations of
socialism and to understand its necessary value. Mazzini himself
was mistaken in this, as well as in regard to the importance of
the acquisition of universal suffrage. Forgive me for wandering
off thus into political matters, of which I don't understand
anything, and of which it does not concern me to talk. But I will
just quote to you a mot which in 1842 was rather widely spread on
the sly in Petersburg. A fair lady of my acquaintance told me
that the Emperor Nicholas had said to her of me, "As to his hair
and his political opinions, they displease me." I begged the same
lady to transmit my reply, which was as follows: His Majesty has
every right in the world to judge me as seemeth well to him,
nevertheless I venture to beg him not to think that I am an
idiot. Now it would be idiocy on my part to proclaim political
opinions. The Emperor shall know them when he deigns to put
300,000 soldiers at my disposal.--
To return to the letters of George Sand. Those addressed in '52
to Prince Jerome Bonaparte and to Louis Napoleon about the
pardoning of several democrats are in exquisite taste; the genius
of a great heart appears in them. Allow me to beg for the little
account of the books that you have been so kind as to send me,
dear Madame Tardieu, and please add to it the price of the
subscription to the Bien public. I suppose you only took it for
one quarter, and I will not go on with it, not having time to
read half the papers which my profession and my tastes would lead
me to peruse. Besides this my eyes, without having exactly
anything the matter with them, do not any longer adapt themselves
either to reading or writing without reprieve; and by evening I
often feel extremely tired...
Has the Independance Belge spoken of a most interesting and
"The Correspondence and Musical Works of Constantin Huygens"
(17th century), published by Jonckbloet and Land, professors at
the University of Leyden, magnificently edited by Brill at
The work is worthy of notice.
To the kind remarks which the Indpendance has inserted on the
concert of the 23rd October with the Liszt programme, [A Liszt-
concert in the Weimar theater in celebration of his birthday.] I
add the observation that the real title of my "Transcription" of
the "Rakoczy March" should be--"Paraphrase symphonique." It has
more than double the number of pages of Berlioz's well-known one,
and was written before his. From delicacy of feeling for my
illustrious friend I delayed the publication of it until after
his death; for he had dedicated to me his orchestral version of
the Rakoczy, for which, however, one of my previous
transcriptions served him, chiefly for the harmonisation, which
differs, as is well known, from the rudimentary chords usually
employed in the performances of the Tsiganes and other little
orchestras on the same lines. Without any vanity I simply
intimate the fact, which any musician can verify for himself.
At last I have just written to my most honored and more than
obliging collaborator, Mr. Lagye. His excellent French
translation of my four Psalms is being engraved. As soon as it is
out you shall have it.
In about ten days I shall join the Wagners, and shall spend more
than a month with them at the Palazzo Vendramin, Venice.
Cordial regards to your husband, from your
Very grateful and affectionate
The director of the subscription concerts at Weimar is going to
give Benoit's "La Guerre," and at the next Musical Festival
Benoit's "Sanctus" and "Benedictus" will be heard. [Both these
intentions of Liszt came to nothing, owing to external causes.]
312. To the Editor of the "Allgemeine Musikzeitung," Otto
Lessmann, at Charlottenburg
Dear Mr. Editor,
As I am very much hindered in my work by overmuch sending of
scores, other compositions, and suchlike writings, I beg you to
make it known that I wish in future not to have my attention
claimed in this manner. I have modestly refrained for many years
past from contributing to collections of autographs.
Weimar, November, 1882
313. To Adelheid Von Schorn
Monday, November 20th, 1882
Venezia la bella: Palazzo Vendramin.
I don't intend you to hear first through others of my safe
arrival here. Thank Heaven! the Wagners and all the family are in
Your brother will write you word from Nuremberg that the method
of whist, so to say invented and certainly perfected by you, is
being spread on to the Durerplatz also under your name at L.
Ramann's. To get rid of all the aces first of all is really
With the exception of one incident, which stricter people than
myself would call a regular fleecing on the part of the Custom
House at Milan, whereby I parted with about 70 francs as a fine
for having brought 50 cigars (!), all my journey passed off very
well. At Zurich I met with the same kind reception on the part of
several members of the Committee--with the President of the town,
Mr. Roemer, at their head--as at the Musical Festival last July.
The proprietor of the Bellevue Hotel, Mr. Pohl (no relation to
his namesake at Baden), insisted on my accepting gratis a
charming room, with dinners, suppers and excellent wines. Such
munificence would have given a fit of fever to the late Hemleb of
the Erbprinz, and his associates will scarcely imitate Mr. Pohl's
amiable proceeding. So I will beg you to recommend the very
comfortable Hotel Bellevue, in the front ranks, to any of your
friends and acquaintances who may pass through Zurich. Without
promising that they will be received gratis, I can assure them
that they will find the beautiful view on to the lake, good
rooms, an excellent cuisine, and attentive service. The Duke of
Altenburg and other princes have stayed in it, and inscribed
their names in the hotel album.
Your friend Ada Pinelli is still here with the Princess Hatzfeld,
at Palazzo Malipieri. I shall go and see her tomorrow. I shall,
however, practise great sobriety in the matter of visits. Wagner
does not pay any, and I shall imitate him on this point to the
best of my ability. My illustrious friend has lodged me
splendidly in a spacious apartment of the Palazzo Vendramin,
which formerly belonged to Madame la Duchesse de Berry. Her son,
the Duke della Grazia, is at present the owner of it, and Wagner
is the tenant for one year. The beautiful furniture still bears
the impress of the old princely regime, and is perfectly
preserved. The main inhabited part of the Palazzo Vendramin is in
the best possible condition, so that Wagner did not have to go to
any special expense, not even for stoves and other requisites,
which are often neglected.
Ever since my first stay in 1837 I have been enamoured of Venice:
this feeling will not grow less this time, but quite the
Cordial and very devoted friendship.
Try to learn something about Bulow, and send me word. It was
heart-breaking to me not to see him again at Meiningen.
314. To Freiherr Hans Von Wolzogen
My Dear Freiherr,
.--. Wagner is perfectly within the truth when he says that
without the extraordinary munificence of H.M. the King of Bavaria
the performances of "Parsifal" at Bayreuth would have been
endangered, and only the sympathy of the public, outside the
Wagner Societies, made the continuance of them possible. But does
it follow from this that the Wagner Societies are useless, and
that this is the opportunity for disbanding them? To my thinking,
No, for they keep up a wholesome agitation, and support the
"Bayreuther Blatter," which essentially promote the good cause.
There does not seem to me to be any advantage in changing the
name Society [Verein] into Fellowship [Genossenschaft]. Wagner's
great name and most important personality are what are most
needed here. Moreover the parliamentariness of the Societies will
not be averse to the absolute authority of the creator of so many
immortal works. In merely minor matters variety of opinions may
be made apparent; in all essentials we are really and truly one.
On this account I desire the continuance, consistency, and
increasing welfare of the Societies.--
It goes without saying that Wagner must reign and govern as
legitimate monarch, until the complete outward realization of his
Bayreuth conception--namely, the model performance of his entire
works, under his own aegis and directions at Bayreuth. It behoves
all who sympathise in the historico-civilised culture of Art in
the coming years of the closing 19th century to endeavor to
promote this aim.
When we have attained the end in question let us sing with
Schiller and Beethoven,
"Freude, schoner Gotterfunken!" ["Joy, thou spark from heaven
Accept, dear Freiherr, the assurance of my true and high esteem.
Venezia, November 24th, 1882
Pray remember me most kindly to your family.
3l5. To Franz Servais
Your welcome lines reached me at Weimar and I thank you cordially
I tell you again, dear Franz, that you were "born with a silver
spoon in your mouth;" after the hearing of your Opera with the
piano the success of a performance will follow.--Don't get
impatient at a little delay; the most illustrious composers,
including Meyerbeer, could not say, like Louis XIV., "J'ai failli
attendre." ["I nearly had to wait."]...But I hope that the saying
"Tout vient a point, a qui sait attendre" ["All comes to him who
can wait."] will be realised in your case without much delay.
Good courage then and Mistress Patience.
Will you remember me very affectionately to Godebski; his
graceful bust, so perfect in its likeness to the never-to-be-
forgotten Madame Moukhanoff, is ever the precious ornament of my
little salon at the "Hofgartnerei" in Weimar.
The large bust of Rossini which Godebski presented to the Grand
Duke ornaments the lobby of the theater, where it blooms like a
god from Olympus. Tell me what works Godebski has been doing
When next you see Madame Judith Gautier, please express to her
anew the admiring homage of your very faithful
Venezia, November 26th, 1882
P.S.--Our friends * * * might, I think, do you good service with
M. Vaucorbeil, and could tell him also, as a "by the way," that I
take a lively interest in your work. Would you perhaps think it
advisable to let some fragment of it be given at a public
concert? I am remaining here till New Year's Day with the
Wagners, at the superb Palazzo Vendramin; then I shall return
direct to Budapest.
316. To Adelheid von Schorn
Venezia, December 8th, 1882
Your sad news about Bulow's bad state of health are much the same
as his wife gave to Daniela. Let us hope for more reassuring
Here, in Palazzo Vendramin, a peaceful and most united family
life goes on without monotony. But I cannot speak of the things
which touch me most, except clumsily. So it is better to keep
from doing so. The Princess writes to me from Rome that she shall
be delighted to obtain possession of the two water-colors of
Gleichen for the splendid portfolios of drawings belonging to her
daughter, of which the mother, since the years at Weimar, has
regally provided the greater part. These portfolios are among the
finest collections in Europe.
Joukowski [Widely known by his "Parsafal" sketches and the
portraits of Liszt and of Wagner's family], who has been delayed
by a funeral and by the floods, will arrive here today. Neither
funerals nor floods have been able to prevent Lassen from scoring
our Symphonic Intermezzo "Uber allen Zauber Liebe" ["Above all
magic Love"]. I hope Lassen will conduct it at the Court concert
on New Year's Day, and I beg you to go and hear it and let me
know about it. .--.
I beg Gille to send me the volume "Die deutsche Buhne von einem
Weimaraner" ["The German stage, by a Weimarer"]. Do you know who
it is? According to the index he seems to ignore the doings of
the Weimar theater during the last thirty years, which is not
very honorable to a Weimarer, and looks very like a cowardly
action of a low standard.
Your cordially devoted
Saturday Morning, December 9th
Joukowski arrived last night, and we began at once to sound your
Daniela has written to you. I will send you the programme of the
performance of Goethe's "Geschwister" ["Brothers and Sisters"],
which will take place tomorrow at Princess Hatzfeld's. Those old
books of operas, such as "Les Indes galantes" ["The gallant
Indies"], and other antiquities, re-edited in Paris, may
peaceably repose at the "Hofgartnerei;" unless you prefer to lend
them to some one who likes works of that kind, which are sought
317. To Professor Carl Riedel
Draseke's "Requiem" is such a first-rate work, and is so likely
to obtain a good reception from the public, that I again
recommend the performance of it at the next Tonkunstler-
Versammlung. Draseke will presumably also agree to it in the end.
Gustav Weber's Trio, Op. 5, published by Siegel, and dedicated to
me, I consider an eminent work, worthy of recommendation and
performance. I am sure you think the same.
I should like to add to the vocal programme of the Tonkunstler-
Versammlung two songs by your name-sake Riedel, now
Hofkapellmeister in Brunswick. [Hermann Riedel, born 1847, made a
special success with songs from Scheffel's "Trompeter von
Sakkingen."] If they should be ascribed to you they will please
you all the better for that. And a propos, why do you let your
valuable, excellent works be so seldom heard in public? I shall
reproach you further with this injustice to yourself when we come
to talk over the programme, and I hope that you won't continue to
overdo your reserve as a composer. Without pushing one's-self
forward one must still maintain one's position, to which you,
dear friend, are fully entitled. Will you be so kind as to tell
Hartel to send me here quickly 25 sheets of to line, and 25
sheets of 12 line music paper (oblong shape, not square) for
cash, together with a few of the small books of samples,
containing all kinds of music paper, which I have recommended
several musical friends of mine here and elsewhere to buy. One
can rub out easily on this paper, which is one of the most
important things--that is to say, unless one tears up the whole
manuscript, which would often be advisable.
A happy Christmas, and a brave New Year '83.
Ever your faithfully attached
Venezia, Palazzo Vendramin, December 9th, 1882
318. To Arthur Meyer in Paris, Presidet of the "Presse
[Copied in the Gazette de Hongrie at Budapest, February 1st,
Monsieur le Directeur,
My telegram of this morning expressed to you my excuses and deep
regret at being unable to be of use in the programme of your
Festival. [Liszt had been asked to take part in a Festival which
was given at the Grand Opera for the benefit of the sufferers
from the inundations in Alsace-Lorraine. "The Dame of Liszt in
France," they wrote, "is synonymous with triumph, and we know
that it is also synonymous with kindness."]
It would certainly be an honor to me to take part in it, and I am
by no means oblivious of the gratitude I owe to Paris, where my
youthful years were passed. Moreover it would be, it seems to me,
a becoming thing that, after the generous and striking sympathy
shown by Paris--also by a festival at the Grand Opera--to my
compatriots on the occasion of the inundation of Szeged, an
artist from Hungary, who has been favored by so much French
kindness, should make his public acknowledgments at your
approaching grand performance.
Unfortunately my age of 72 years invalidates me as a pianist. I
could no longer risk in public my ten fingers--which have been
out of practice for years--without incurring just censure. There
is no doubt on this point; and I am perfectly resolved to abstain
from any exhibition of my old age at the piano in any country.
Please accept, Monsieur le Directeur, my thanks and best
Budapest, January 28th, 1883
319. To the Composer Albert Fuchs
Your "Hungarian Suite" [For Orchestra, dedicated to Liszt] is an
excellent and effective work. While springing from the musical
ground of Hungary, it nevertheless remains your own property, as
there are no imitations or used-up ornamentations in it, but
rather much new employment of harmonies, and always a national
coloring. For the dedication you are heartily thanked by
Budapest, February 4th, 1883
320. To Saissy, Editor of the "Gazette de Hongrie in Budapest
[From a rough copy in the possession of Herr O. A. Schulz,
bookseller in Leipzig.]
I come to ask your advice, dear Monsieur Saissy; please give it
me quite frankly, without any reserve, and tell me whether you
think it is an opportune moment for my letter (which I enclose),
relative to my pretended animadversion against the Israelites, to
be published or not. If you think it is, I beg you to insert it
in the next number of the Gazette de Hongrie; otherwise it shall
remain unprinted, as I shall not send it to any other paper.
As the proverb says, "Silence is gold"; but perhaps, under the
given circumstances, in view of the serious question of the
Israelites in Hungary, it would be better to speak in the current
silver money in the papers.
Let us rectify errors, and remain modest but not timid. In
Budapest, February 6th, 1883
321. To The Editor of the "Gazette de Hongrie"
[Published in the Gazette de Hongrie of February 8th, 1883,
Budapest. A translation of it also appeared in German papers;
amongst others, in Lessmann's Allgemeine Musikzeituug, at the
wish of the Master, who was annoyed with the aspersion against
himself of having promoted the Antisemitic movement.]
It is not without regret that I address these lines to you; but,
as there has been some report spread here about my pretended
hostility to the Israelites, I ought to rectify the mistake of
this false report.
As is well known in the musical world, many illustrious
Israelites, Meyerbeer first and foremost, have given me their
esteem and friendship, and the same in the literary world with
Heine and others.
It seems to me that it would be superfluous to enumerate the many
proofs I have given, during fifty years, of my active loyalty
towards Israelites of talent and capacity, and I abstain in like
manner from speaking of my voluntary contributions to the
charitable institutions of Judaism in various countries.
The motto of my patron saint, St. Francois de Paule, is
"Caritas!" I will remain faithful to this throughout my life!
If, by some mutilated quotations from my book on the Gipsies in
Hungary, it has been sought to pick a quarrel with me, and to
make what is called in French une querelle d'Allemand, I can in
all good conscience affirm that I feel myself to be guiltless of
any other misdeed than that of having feebly reproduced the
argument of the kingdom of Jerusalem, set forth by Disraeli (Lord
Beaconsfield), George Eliot (Mrs. Lewes), and Cremieux, three
Israelites of high degree.
Accept, Sir, etc.,
February 6th, 1883
322. To Rich and Mason in Toronto
[From a rough copy in the possession of Herr O. A. Schulz,
bookseller in Leipzig]
The Rich and Mason Grand Piano which you have so kindly sent me
here is a pattern one. And as such will artists, judges, and the
public recognise it.
Together with my hearty thanks I wanted at the same time to send
you the Liszt portrait for which you wished. It was painted by
Baron Joukowski, son of the highly honored tutor and friend of
Alexander II., a man who will also be ever famous in Russian
literature. Now, however, this Liszt portrait has been such a
success that they wanted to have a second one like it for the
Joukowski Museum. The painter kindly consented to the request,
which has necessitated a delay of 2 to 3 months in my sending off
the first portrait to Toronto.
Joukowski had also prepared the sketches for the "Parsifal"
scenery in Bayreuth, which were followed by a successful
Excuse, dear Sirs, the delay in my acknowledgments, and accept
the assurance of my high esteem.
323. To Madame Marie Jaell in Vienna
[Autograph in possession of Herr Commerzienrath Bosendorfer in
Vienna.--The addressee was the widow of Alfred Jaell, and was a
pianiste and composer in Paris.]
Chere Admirable [Dear Admirable One],
I give you at once a most cordial welcome to Budapest. Have you
already made your arrangements for concerts here? Can my very
excellent friend Bosendorfer be of use to you as an agent? To my
regret I am not in a position to help you in that, on account of
my being so very decidedly out of touch with the principal
concert arrangers of the neighborhood, who impertinently make a
pitiable trade for the benefit of Art...the art of their own
pocket and predominance.
To our right speedy meeting! Will you let me make acquaintance
with your new compositions, and accept the homage of my admiring
sympathy and affection?
Budapest, February 12th, 1883
Have you had anything to do with a serious and really
distinguished composer,--Rendano? He is giving his concert in
Vienna one of these next days.
324. To Adelheid Von Schorn
If you were here, dear friend, you would perhaps find means to
put into some sort of order the hundreds of letters that rain
upon me from everywhere. These bothers and burdens of the
amiability with which I am credited are becoming insupportable,
and I really long, some fine day, to cry from the housetops that
I beg the public to consider me as one of the most disagreeable,
whimsical and disobliging of men.
To our cordial meeting at Weimar in the early days of April.
Ever your very affectionate and grateful
Budapest, February 14th, 1883
325. To Otto Lessmann
Your sad news [After Wagner's death on the 13th February] pierces
my heart. Worthily have you said of the great, undying hero of
Art, "May the memory of him lead us on the right road to truth!"
I abstained from going at once to Venice and Bayreuth, but no
sensible man will on that account doubt my feelings. Until
Passion Week I remain here; then according to what my daughter
arranges I shall either go to Bayreuth or elsewhere, wherever my
dearly beloved daughter may be.
Hearty thanks, dear friend, for your satisfactory, truthful
adjustment of my position, which is neither a doubtful nor a
cowardly one, in the Jewish question.
The watchword and solution of that question is a matter for the
perseverance of the Israelites and for the all-ruling Divine
Yours faithfully and gratefully,
Budapest, February 18th, 1883
I shall send that number of your weekly paper (16th February) to
Cardinal Haynald, my gracious patron of many years' standing--who
was also the President of the Liszt-Jubilee Festival in Budapest.
326. To Lina Ramann
My very dear Friend,
Ever since the days of my youth I have considered dying much
simpler than living. Even if often there is fearful and
protracted suffering before death, yet is death nonetheless the
deliverance from our involuntary yoke of existence.
Religion assuages this yoke, yet our heart bleeds under it
In my "Requiem" (for men's voices) I endeavored to give
expression to the mild, redeeming character of death. It is shown
in the "Dies irae," in which the domination of fear could not be
avoided; in the three-part strophe
"Qui Mariam absolvisti,
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi autem spem dedisti"
lies the fervent, tender accent, which is not easily attained by
ordinary singers...The execution is also made more difficult by
the 2 semitones, ascending in the 1st Tenor, and descending in
the 2nd Tenor and 1st Bass. Progressions of this kind are indeed
not new, but singers so seldom possess the requisite crystal-
clear intonation without which the unhappy composer comes to
Our 3rd Elegie, "The funeral gondola" ("la gondola funebre"),
written unawares last December in Venice, is to be brought out
this summer by Kahnt, who has already published my 2 earlier
Heartfelt greetings to your respected collaborators, and ever
Budapest, February 22nd, 1883
327. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
Dear Benevolent One,
To great grief silence is best suited. I will be silent on
Wagner, the prototype of an initiatory genius.
Thank you cordially for your telegram of yesterday. [On the
success of Saint-Saens' Opera "Henry VIII." at the opera in
Paris] No one rejoices more than I in the success of Saint-Saens.
There is no doubt that he deserves it; but fortune, grand
sovereign of doubtful manners, is often in no hurry to array
herself on the side of merit.
One has to keep on tenaciously pulling her by the ear (as Saint-
Saens has done) to make her listen to reason.
Be so good as to send me the number of the Independance with the
article on "Henry VIII." I will ask M. Saissy, the director of
the Gazette (French) de Hongrie, professor of French literature
at the University of Budapest, to reproduce this article in his
Gazette. Saissy is one of my friends; consequently he will
publish what is favorable to "Henry VIII."
Saint-Saens has sent me the score of his beautiful work "La Lyre
et la Harpe." Alas! everything that is not of the theater and
does not belong to the repertoire of the old classical masters
Handel, Bach, Palestrina, etc., does not yet gain any attentive
and paying consideration--the decisive criterion--of the public.
Berlioz, during his lifetime, furnished the proof of this.
Please give my love to your husband, and accept my devoted and
Budapest, March 6th, 1883
With regard to Lagye, I am contrite. Various things which I had
to send off with care have prevented me from going on with the
revision of the French edition of my Lieder. It shall be done
328. To Ferdinand Taborszky, Music Publisher in Budapest
As it is uncertain whether I shall still be alive next year, I
have just written an Hungarian "Konigslied" [Royal Song]
according to an old mode, for the opening of the New Hungarian
Theater in Radialstrasse.
Herewith is the manuscript for pianoforte, two hands, and the
score with text by Kornel Abranyi [German translation by
Ladislaus Neugebauer] will follow in Easter week.
The publishing of my "Konigslied" ought not to take place till
the first performance in the new theater in '84,
Until then we will keep quiet about it.--
Yours in all friendship,
Budapest, March 11th, 1883
329. To Baroness M. E. Schwartz
[Autograph in the Liszt Museum at Weimar]
Budapest, March 22nd, 1883
Dear and most excellent One,
It is really extraordinary that after so many years of constant
practice in works of mercy you are not ruined. Your life seems to
me one vast symphony of generosity, munificence, charities, gifts
and attentions as delicate as they are costly. To begin with,
there are Garibaldi and his people, and to continue indefinitely
there are those poor German fellows, ill at Rome, and buried
there at your expense; and then the fighting Cretans, the infirm
people in your hospital at Jena, the societies for the protection
of animals, etc., etc.
I admire you and bow before your perpetual kindnesses and
goodness,--all the more because you exercise them unobtrusively,
as it were in the shade, without any flourish of trumpets and
Do not scold me for having divided the gift you confided to me
for the sufferers from the inundations at Raab. 300 florins were
amply sufficient for them, and the other 300 florins of your 50
pounds sterling were well employed for the children's gardens (an
admirable institution of Frobel's), of which Madame Tisza, the
wife of the President of Council of the Ministers of Hungary, is
the president in this country.
I send you herewith Madame Tisza's thanks (in Hungarian, with a
German translation), and the receipt of Count Thun,--supreme
Count (an ancient title still preserved,--"Obergespan" in German)
of the Committee of Raab.
I preferred to send your gift in the name of Madame E. de
Schwartz, and not to mix up your nom de plume of Elpis Melena
with it. Pardon me this innocent bit of arbitrariness.
Shall I see you again, my very dear friend, this summer at
Weimar? I hope so, and I remain sempper ubique
Your grateful and attached
From the middle of April until August I shall stay at Weimar,
with the exception of some excursions of a few days' duration.
Please let me know a couple of weeks beforehand when your
friendly visit will take place.
330. To Baroness Wrangel in St. Petersburg
[This lady had begged Liszt for a contribution to an album which
it was intended to present to Henselt on the occasion of a
festival in honor of his having been 25 years General Music
Inspector of the Imperial Schools in St. Petersburg, Moscow, etc.
This is Liszt's answer.]
Madame la Baronne,
For thirty years past I have entirely abstained from adding to
collections of autographs and of writing my name in any albums
whatever. Nevertheless I willingly make an exception today, while
thanking you for your kind words, and begging you to transmit to
my honored friend A. Henselt the short copy enclosed herewith.
A renowned diplomatist once said to me, "To princes one should
offer only flowers gathered from their own gardens."
Henselt belongs to the princes, and will accept the souvenir of
one of the most beautiful flowers of his own noble gardening.
Very humble respects.
Weimar, May 20th, 1883
[Liszt adds a postscript to this letter where he writes a musical
score excerpt of the Larghetto form Henselt's Concerto:]
"Albumblatt" for Henselt.
Motive of the wonderful Larghetto in A. Henselt's Concerto.
[Here, Liszt illustrates with a musical score excerpt of the main
theme of the Larghetto.]
For 40 years the composer's admiring and truly attached
Weimar, May, 1883
331. To Mason and Hamlin in Boston
[Printed in Gottschalg's "Urania"]
My dear Sirs,
For what a magnificent Organ I have to thank your kindness! It is
worthy of all praise and admiration! Even average players could
attain much success on it.--I should gladly have kept this
splendid instrument in my own house, but, alas! there is not
sufficient room for it. It is now looking grand in the large room
of the Orchestral School here, an institution of importance, the
excellent director of which is Herr Professor and
Hofcapellmeister K. Mueller-Hartung--he has published some
beautiful Organ Sonatas and plays them no less beautifully.--On
the evening of its opening two renowned organists played upon it,
the Court organist A. W. Gottschalg (the publisher of the
considerable Organ repertoire, etc., etc.), and the town organist
B. Sulze, who has attained a great name through many valuable
compositions and transcriptions.--I shall probably have a visit
this summer from Prof. Dr. Naumann from Jena, Walter Bache from
London, and Saint-Saens from Paris, who, according to my opinion,
continues to be the most eminent and extraordinary king of
organists. I shall not fail to beg the three above-mentioned
virtuosi to make a closer acquaintance with your organ. For the
rest it shall not be misused and shall remain closed to ordinary
Weimar, June 12th, 1883
332. To Madame Malwine Tardieu
Thank you for the very agreeable news of the resumption and
continuation of the performances of "Henry VIII." No one wishes
Saint-Saens, more than I do, all the success that he grandly
deserves, both in the theater and in concerts.
In the matter of concerts, those of the Meiningen orchestra,
under Bulow's conductorship, are astonishing, and very
instructive for the due comprehension of the works and the
rendering of them. I send you a copy of some lines written to a
friend; these will give you my impression,--one which you would
share if you heard these concerts of the highest artistic
lineage.--The parallel between the "Sigurd" of Reyer [Performed
for the first time on 7th January, 1884, at the Theater de la
Monnaie, Brussels.] and the "Siegfried" of Wagner is ingeniously
traced by your husband, and renders good preparatory service to
the success of the performances of "Sigurd." As to the
"Nibelungen" tetralogy of Wagner--it shines with an immortal
glory. In the course of the winter season the Weimar theater will
give Gevaert's "Quentin Durward." Lassen will take the utmost
pains in directing the study and performance of it. To my regret
I shall not be able to be present at the premiere here, as I am
obliged to be at Budapest before the middle of January.
Please give Tardieu the cordial love of
Your much attached
Weimar, December 14th, 1883
Yet another young pianist, but one of the best kind,--M. Siloti,
a Russian by birth, and of good education. He was said to be the
best pupil of Nicholas Rubinstein before he came to work with me.
He obtained a marked success at Leipzig lately, which he will
continue next week at Antwerp. In spite of my aversion to letters
of introduction, I am giving him a couple of words for the
Lynens, and I recommend him to your kind attention.
333. To Casar Cui
Very Honored Friend,
It is well known in various countries in what high esteem I hold
your works. As I am convinced that the "Suite" of which you speak
will prove itself worthy of your preceding compositions, I feel
that I am honored by the dedication, and thank you for it with
gratitude. Your musical style is raised far above ordinary
phraseology; you do not cultivate the convenient and barren field
of the commonplace...Doubtless form in Art is necessary to the
expression of ideas and sentiments; it must be adequate, supple,
free, now energetic, now graceful, delicate; sometimes even
subtle and complex, but always to the exclusion of the ancient
remains of decrepit formalism.
At Meiningen, where Bulow's admirable conducting is working
wonders of rhythm and nuances with the orchestra, I lately had
the honor of a conversation with the Grand Duke Constantine
Constantinowitch, on the actual development of music in Russia
and of the well-known capacity of its courageous promoters. His
Imperial Highness justly appreciates their serious worth, their
noble character and intense originality; consequently, dear
Monsieur Cui, the Grand Duke accords full praise to your talents
and deserts. I take pleasure in repeating this to you, at the
same time renewing to you the assurance of my very sincere
Weimar, December 30th, 1883
A young Russian pianist, M. Siloti, who has been brought to a
high state of virtuosity by the lessons and example of Nicholas
Rubinstein, is now gaining a real success in Germany. When he
comes to Petersburg I recommend him to your kindness.
334. To Otto Lessmann
Weimar, January l0th, 1884
The remarkable concerts of the Meiningen Court orchestra led me
to the attempt to write a "Bulow March." I send you herewith a
Preface to this, and also an article (in French), in the form of
a letter, on my impressions in Meiningen. Will you insert both
these in your paper? Also kindly translate the French letter.
[It follows here after the Preface in the original. A German
translation of it appeared in Lessmann's Allgemeine Musikzeitung
on the 18th January, 1884, under the title of "Letter to a
I shall stay ten days to a fortnight longer in Weimar on account
of the severe illness of Achilles [Liszt's servant].
Preface to the Bulow March:
For thirty years Hans von Bulow has been expressing and actively
furthering everything that is noble, right, high-minded and free-
minded in the regions of creative Art. As virtuoso, teacher,
conductor, commentator, propagandist--indeed even sometimes as a
humorous journalist--Bulow remains the Chief of musical progress,
with the initiative born in and belonging to him by the grace of
God, with an impassioned perseverance, incessantly striving
heroically after the Ideal, and attaining the utmost possible.
His conducting of the Meiningen Court orchestra is a fresh proof
of this. To that same orchestra this "Bulow March" is dedicated
in high esteem for their model symphonic performances, by
Weimar, January, 1884
Meiningen, December, 1883
At seven o'clock people were at the rehearsal of the Beethoven
concert. Under Bulow's conducting the Meiningen orchestra
accomplishes wonders. Nowhere is there to be found such
intelligence in different works; precision in the performance
with the most correct and subtle rhythmic and dynamic nuances.
The fact of the opera having been abolished at Meiningen by the
Duke some twenty years ago is most favorable to the concerts. In
this way the orchestra has time to have a fair number of partial
and full rehearsals without too much fatigue, as the opera work
has been done away with. Bulow is almost as lavish of rehearsals
as Berlioz would have been if he had had the means to be...The
result is admirable and in certain respects matchless, not
excepting the Paris Conservatoire and other celebrated concert-
institutions. The little Meiningen phalanx, thanks to its present
General, is in advance of the largest battalions. It is said that
Rubinstein and some others have expressed themselves
disapprovingly about some of the unusual tempi and nuances of
Bulow, but to my thinking their criticism is devoid of
Besides the programme of the Beethoven concert, in the morning
there was an extra seance of the orchestra for the performance of
the Overtures to "King Lear" (Berlioz) and to the
"Meistersinger," my march "Vom Fels zum Meer," the "Ideales," and
Brahms' Variations on a theme of Haydn. Always the same and
complete understanding in the ensemble and the details of the
scores,--the same vigor, energy, refinement, accuracy, relief,
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