Part 6 out of 6
You shall have the parts; each of them is in a book which
contains all the pieces of my Zurich concert; you will therefore
have "Tannhauser" as well as "Lohengrin." But as your orchestra
will be larger than mine, you will have to have them copied out;
still I think they will arrive in time if I send them to Devrient
not before the middle of August, after my return from St. Moritz;
let me know whether you think the same. If you also want the
voice parts and think the chorus ought to begin studying before
the middle of August, I will send you them through my wife before
the others; as to this also I want your instructions. The newly
written score of the "Lohengrin" pieces, containing all the
alterations, will be ready in four weeks at the latest. I
therefore prefer to wait till then rather than send you the
alterations on detached slips of paper, which would be of little
use to you. About the middle of August the entire and properly
arranged score will be sent to you at Weimar; but if you insist
upon having the alterations separately at an earlier date, write
to me, and I will obey. So, so, so, so! this is the business.
And now what remains? Sadness! sadness! After you had been taken
from us I did not say a single word to George. Silently I
returned home; silence reigned everywhere. Thus we celebrated
your leave-taking, you dear man; all the splendour had departed.
Oh, come back soon, and stay with us for a long time. If you only
knew what divine traces you have left behind you! Everything has
grown nobler and milder; greatness lives in narrow minds; and
sadness covers all.
Farewell, my Franz, my holy Franz. Think of the wild solitude of
St. Moritz, and send a ray of your life there soon.
My wife read your letter with me, and was delighted--She greets
you cordially. George asks me to greet you, and thanks you for
remembering him. He will soon be a poet for your sake. Farewell,
dear, dear Franz.
COIRE, July 15th, 1853.
X. is going to sing in "Tannhauser" at R. in about a fortnight.
She had to leave at once after the concert on July 12th, in order
to attend to some starring engagements. I saw her first in her
dressing-room at the theatre, where she had kindly invited me to
visit her for a quarter of an hour after the concert. That
quarter of an hour I employed in doing my duty as a doctor and
apothecary in the "well-conditioned" line. I told her many and
sundry things which she was able to understand. Before taking
leave X. promised me to sing Ortrud and Elizabeth at Weymar in
the course of next winter, which I accepted very thankfully. Papa
X. has some plans for a German opera in London, and opines that
your operas would have a fine effect there. I replied that the
needful and indispensable would first have to be done for them in
Germany. There is no hurry about London, and perfect success
there is only possible when the ground in Germany has been firmly
To S. and M. I repeated once more that it would be scandalous not
to give "Tannhauser" on this occasion, and S. went so far as to
promise me that, in case of difficulties, he would announce
"Tannhauser" with Frau Anschutz-Capitain in the intervals of the
Has Schindelmeisser sent you our Wiesbaden "Lohengrin" snuffbox?
As Ortrud was ill, "Lohengrin" could not be given this week. Frau
Moritz is a very amiable and excellent woman and artist. She is
studying Elsa and Senta, and is quite determined to make active
propaganda for your operas. Moritz is going to read your "Ring of
the Nibelung" this month at Wiesbaden.
When I go to Carlsruhe, I shall again visit Moritz at Wiesbaden.
Your letter to C. A. reached me this morning early; excellent and
worthy of you! This afternoon I drive to Ettersburg to pay my
respects to the young gentleman, and shall hand him your letter
The Princess of Prussia is here with her mother, and will
probably remain till the end of July. Whether the etiquette of
court mourning will permit me to have a talk with her I do not
Be happy in the Grisons, you godlike man. When you work at the
"Nibelungen," let me be with you, and keep me within you even as
you have received me--in truth and love.
WEYMAR, July 17th, 1853.
Enclosed I send you a letter from Kohler, which you may on
occasion return to me. Have you read his pamphlet "The Melody of
Speech"? Perhaps you might write a few words to him.
Do not forget the Carlsruhe scores, and, if possible, the parts.
Address always Weymar.
HIGHLY ESTEEMED DR. LISZT,
This is my book. Do not expect to find anything in it, lest I
should have the misfortune of incurring your censure.
I have sent the book to Wagner, and it makes me anxious to think
that it might displease him; I wish I knew something definite.
Wagner has given me infinitely great pleasure by sending me his
"Nibelungen." I owe this to you; you were my intercessor.
I am still reading the book. At first it was strange to me, but
attracted me as something strange does attract us. Unconsciously,
however, I lost myself in it, and now feel quite at home in it,
with the true joy of Valhall. The work strikes me with a power
which is of a peculiar kind, and I do not care to vex my spirit
with reflections. It is such a fine thing if they do not occur of
themselves, although, no doubt, the after-effect of the book will
lead to reflections. I do not think that for centuries so truly
sublime a piece of poetry has been created, so powerful, so full
of simplicity--simple in diction--there is marrow in every word.
Everything in it appears great, even in an optic sense; the forms
of the gods I see before me large, but endowed with the ideal
beauty of force; I hear their voices resound afar, and when they
move, the air is stirred. This language is in itself true music,
and therefore cannot be "set to music." I have a distinct idea of
the actual representation of this work and of its perfection; and
I discover a kind of speech melody in the forcibly phrased and
vividly grouped verses of Wagner, such as I imagined as the
ultimate ideal of dramatic tone-speech when I wrote my book;
perhaps you hold a similar opinion, or rather you know, as you
have been with Wagner. To him I should like to write every day,
if only two lines; but Heaven preserve so much occupied a man
from my very superfluous words. If Wagner would only let me know
ten vocal notes from his "Nibelungen," my mind would be at rest.
Wotan is sublime, like a statue in bronze, and yet so humanly
conceivable at the same time. The close of the first act of the
"Valkyrie" is overpowering. Oh! how I felt with Siegmund. When I
read, my soul seemed to expand as if I were looking from a high
point upon a large, new world.
Let me have two brief words about Wagner's intention; I shall be
eternally grateful to you. I shall always think with delight of
my journey and my stay at Weimar. The Altenburg stands
daguerreotyped on my soul.
I still smoke your "Plantages" cigars when I want to reward
myself after much working. Your arrangement of the Ninth Symphony
for two pianos has filled me with the greatest enthusiasm; it is
a marvelous work, which I shall shortly notice in print.
How about new editions? Let me write about them all!
In the feuilleton of our newspaper here I wrote three articles
about you and Wagner; now, after all, comes S. and writes too,
upsetting so many things which I had built up. He is a terribly
confused spirit, and the humour of it is that he thinks everybody
Is Raff working busily at his Samson? I hope we shall soon hear
something of him. Remember me to him very kindly.
And now I take my leave of you, asking for your forbearance with
Your wholly devoted
KONIGSBERG, July 3rd, 1853.
Your splendid letter on rosy paper has cheered me up. The air
here feels so thick, so buttery (so like rancid butter). Well,
let it be as it may, I do not care; you write your "Nibelungen"
and "Delenda Philisterium!"
To the young Grand Duke I gave your letter, and I can assure you
that he has fully understood your noble language, your high-toned
feeling. I had the honour yesterday of seeing the Princess of
Prussia; she is staying here at Belvedere without chamberlain or
dame d'honneur, simply as the loving and very lovable daughter of
her mother, "the Frau Grossherzogin-Grossfurstin" (this is now
the official denomination of the Grand Duchess Maria Paulowna).
Zigesar, who remains with the latter as acting chamberlain and
house-marshal, tells me wonders of the grace and amiability of
the Princess of Prussia. I have of course told her many and
various things about you.
The Zurich people have acted very well, and we at Weymar have
taken cordial interest in your serenade and the torchlight
procession. What a pity "Double Peps" was there no longer! He
would have drummed and torched with a will.
The day after tomorrow I must start for Carlsbad, and shall stay
there till August 15th, wherefore address Carlsbad till middle of
August, after that Weymar. The 28th of August (anniversary of
Goethe's birthday and of the first performance of "Lohengrin") is
fixed for the "Huldigung" (taking the oath of allegiance to the
new Grand Duke). I shall probably be there, and must write a
march of about two hundred bars by command. Raff is to write a Te
Deum for the church ceremony.
For your kind loan of "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin" to Carlsruhe I
am very thankful to you. You save us time and trouble, and I feel
quite safe now.
I expect then that between the 15th and 18th of August (please,
not later) all the orchestral and choral parts as well as the
scores will be in the hands of Devrient at Carlsruhe, and I shall
advise him as to their arrival. A correct and spirited
performance of the "Tannhauser" overture and the pieces from
"Lohengrin" I guarantee, and you shall have satisfactory accounts
If not inconvenient, please arrange that I, with several others,
may meet you after the Carlsruhe festival (about 24th or 25th
September) at Basle. I should like to revive in your company for
a few days, which shall be called "Lohengrin days." By that time
I suppose you will be back from your journey, and a meeting will
do good to both of us.
Live happy in the enjoyment of your power, my great, splendid
Remember me very kindly to George, and let me soon hear from you.
WEYMAR, July 25th, 1853.
Till August 15th address Carlsbad, then again Weymar.
Cordial thanks, dearest friend, for your cheerful letter. I am
half ashamed of the dismal mood which prevented me so long from
writing to you. I lead here an unbearable, solitary life, in
grand but terribly charmless surroundings. At the beginning I
made excursions with George to the glaciers and neighbouring
valleys, but as this did not agree with my cure, I remained
confined to this wretched little place, which, fortunately, I
leave the day after tomorrow. Whether the cure has been of use to
me the future must show, but upon the whole I am not inclined to
repeat it. I am too restless to give up all activity for such a
long time. In brief, I am not a fit subject for a cure; that I
perceive. I am now all ablaze to go to Italy, but do not intend
to start before the end of August, for they say that only in
September Italy becomes comfortable for us. For how long I shall
roam about there, Lord only knows. Perhaps I shall not be able to
bear it long alone, but the thought of returning to Switzerland
so very soon is unpleasant to me. Tell me, dearest Franz, have
you quite given up your idea of going to Paris? Our meeting there
would be much pleasanter than at the commonplace Basle. Are you
so much tied by time and space? Of course the hope of seeing you
once more this year regulates all my plans; and if you offer me
an opportunity for the end of September, I should be a precious
fool not to make use of it. See you again therefore I shall in
any case; but I venture to ask that you should make it possible
to come to Paris, where I should like to divert my thoughts for a
little time before permanently returning to my honest
Switzerland. The distance from Carlsruhe to Paris is not greater
than to Basle. You get there in one day from Strassburg. Pardon
me for pressing this caprice upon you.
The Wiesbaden "Lohengrin snuffbox" has had a great effect upon
me; it was forwarded to me here by my wife. Your humour seems to
have been excellent, so that Schindelmeisser was no doubt unable
to understand it. This snuffbox also shall one day figure in my
collection of rarities.
Have you received an invitation from Leipzig? Wirsing wrote to me
about Lohengrin, but I, on my part, wrote to Raymund Hartel
asking him to take the matter in hand and to communicate to
Wirsing my conditio sine qua non. You perceive that, on the
strength of your friendly promise, I have freely taken to
I hear that at Berlin the scheme of "Tannhauser" at Kroll's is to
be taken seriously in hand in September or October. Schaffer also
wrote to me about it.
Young T. wrote to me from Posen that his father had at last
permitted him to devote himself to music entirely, and he now
prays on his bended knees that I should allow him to live near me
at Zurich. This somewhat embarrasses me, for I know that the
young man is mistaken in me and Zurich; so I have written to tell
him that I am starting on a journey, and that, as he wanted to
leave Posen at once, he might first visit you at Weimar, where I
would announce him to you. After that he might go with you to
Carlsruhe and from there proceed to Zurich, where I should be
willing to be of service to him as long as he could stand the
place. Do not be angry with me for having put him too on your
shoulders; you will soon get rid of him.
I always have an anxious feeling that I might have lost something
in your eyes since our meeting, probably because I feel how much
you have gained in mine--gained as if there had been anything
left for you to gain! What a fool I am!
The parts, etc., I shall send next week to Carlsruhe.
St. George is still very lazy, but he shall work. He sends best
regards. Farewell. I must not write more. Tell me soon whether
you have not yet had enough of me.
Give my best respects to the Princess. We shall soon meet again!
Farewell, farewell, best of human beings.
P.S.--The Kroll-Berlin "Tannhauser" has fallen through after all.
Schoneck has just written to me that he has broken with the
director, Wallner, because the latter refused to carry out his
undertaking as to the excellence of the ensemble.
As usual, dearest friend, you have had an excellent idea. It is
settled then that we go to Paris, and there have a meeting at the
end of September, after the Carlsruhe performances. As before
then your chief purpose is to see the Mediterranean, I advise you
to go to Genoa and Marseilles, and thence to Paris. Napoleon
says, "La Mediterranee est un lac francais," so you may go from
your Swiss lakes to the French lake for a few weeks and then come
to me in Paris.
By the middle of October I must be back at Weymar, but a
fortnight of Paris will be quite enough for us.
Therefore this is settled.
T. will be very welcome at Weymar. He wrote to me once or twice
before, and, between ourselves, I have heard several things about
him which make me think that his character is not oversolid. But
that does not matter, and may be left to Meser. A few days ago I
received a letter from Berlioz, in answer to my last, in which I
had said several things about you.
I quote the following lines:--
"Our art, as we understand it, is an art of millionaires; it
requires millions. As soon as these millions are found every
difficulty disappears; every dark intellect is illumined; moles
and foxes are driven back into the earth; the marble block
becomes a god, and the public human: without these millions we
remain clodhoppers after thirty years' exertion.
"And yet there is not a sovereign, not a Rothschild, who will
understand this. Is it not possible that, after all, we, with our
secret pretensions, should simply be stupid and insolent fools?
"I am, like yourself, convinced of the ease with which Wagner and
I should fit each other if only he would grease his wheels a
little. As to the few lines of which you speak, I have never read
them, and therefore feel not the slightest resentment on their
account. I have fired too many pistol-shots at the legs of
passers-by to be astonished at receiving a few pellets myself."
In Paris we shall continue the subject; material and good fun
will not be wanting.
At Leipzig I hope to find a few lines from you, and by the end of
this month I shall write to you from Weymar when and how long I
can be in Paris. If in the meantime I should have to write to
you, I shall address to Zurich, as you must to Weymar.
Farewell, and be cheerful, and do not talk nonsense about what
you might have lost in my eyes. At Leipzig I shall attend to the
"Lohengrin" affair; so far I have heard nothing about it.
Let me today, dear Franz, thank you by a few lines for your last
letter. I cannot get on with "writing" to you any longer; nothing
occurs to me but my sorrow at your disappearance and my desire to
have you again soon and for long. All else scarcely moves me, and
"business" relations between us have very little charm for me.
The only thing I can think of is seeing you again in the present
year. Give me a rendezvous in Paris after the Carlsruhe festival.
In any case I shall send my wife to Carlsruhe, so that she may
bring back a taste of you.
Almost my only object in "writing" to you is to ask you to
forward the enclosed letter to L. Kohler. I know neither his
title, nor his address. You might also apologize to him for this
very letter, which, I believe, is written in a terribly bad and
confused style. The foolish man wants to hear something from me
about his book, but as soon as I bend my head a little towards
theory the nerves of my brain begin to ache violently, and I feel
quite ill. I can and will theorize no longer, and he is not my
friend who would lure me back to that cursed ground. Pereant all
X. and X. if they know of nothing better than this eternal
confused speculating about--art!
Here I live in a wild solitude, ice and snow around me. The day
before yesterday we roamed for half a day over glaciers. Herwegh
must put up with it. I shall not release him from my net; he must
work. He swore yesterday that he had the poem for you in his
head. Good luck!
Get me your medallion, you wicked man. I must have it at once. As
to the rest, do with me what you like. About the sending of the
parts and score to Carlsruhe I await your instructions. I assume
that you received my letter from Coire.
I am almost annoyed that you have had intercourse with X.; these
people are not worth looking after. Be sure that nothing
satisfactory will come of it; we must have whole men or none at
all, no half ones; they drag us down: we shall never drag them
up. I should be proud if this "man of talent" would decline to
assist me altogether.
However, in this matter also you must do as you like. Before all,
take care that you continue to love me, and that we see each
Farewell, dearest friend.
Many greetings from St. George.
ST. MORITZ, CANTON GRISONS, July 26th, 1853.
Truly, writing is a misery, and men of our sort should not write
at all. However, your rosy paper and your luminous letters, which
looked like Spanish grandees, gave me real pleasure. While you
are at Coire, intent upon your water-cure, I sit here in Carlsbad
looking at nothing but puffed-up faces, excepting one which
shines on me like a bright, comforting sun. Till the 16th I must
remain here, and on the 22nd I shall be back at Weymar.
By way of entertainment I enjoy Labitzki and his water-cure
orchestra, Aldridge, the black Roscius, who plays beautifully
Othello, Macbeth, and Fiesco; also spurious Arabs and genuine
Chinese, who howl and tinkle to make one run away.
Passing through Leipzig, I saw B. His new book will appear soon,
in which there is a separate chapter entitled "Criticism of R.
Wagner." We must see whether he has brewed digestible stuff. At
Dresden I visited the R.'s. Frau Kummer and her sister had gained
my affection at Zurich, and C., who was summoned specially from
Pillnitz to meet me, pleased me very well this time. On my
journey back I shall again look up the R.'s, for I like to remain
in communication with people who prove real friends of yours. We
form a little Church of our own, and edify each other by singing
your praises. Take note, dear Richard, and make up your mind to
it, for it cannot be otherwise. You are now, and will be still
more, the concentric focus of every high endeavour, high feeling,
and honest effort in art. This is my true conviction, without
pedantry and charlatanism, both of which I abhor. Do not fail to
use your powerful influence with C., so that he may exert his
faculties with some consistency and regularity. I spoke to him of
B.'s plan of an Art Review. If you set him tasks, he may do good
service to the cause and himself. How about the "leading
programme" which you and H. are to sketch together? This is the
corner-stone of the whole enterprise. Do not be deterred; I think
it necessary that you should submit to some trouble and tedium
for the purpose. Before going to Weymar I shall have some
definite talk with B. about the matter. If you want to
communicate with me on the subject, address Poste restante,
Leipzig, or, better still, to the care of Y., so that the letter
arrive in Leipzig on the 19th inst. Perhaps by that time you will
have been able to settle the chief heads of the programme of
"Blatter fur Gegenwart und Zukunft der Gesammt-Kunst" and to draw
the outline of the whole scheme.
I repeat it once more, without you and your direct and indirect
influence nothing, or something much worse than nothing, will be
done. Therefore be patient and help as and where you can.
Do not forget that E. D. expects the "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin"
scores and parts for the Carlsruhe festival on August 15th. You
are always so careful and punctual in fulfilling your promises
that I am under no anxiety, and only tell you that they wish to
begin studying your pieces in Carlsruhe as soon as possible.
B. will probably come to Carlsruhe, and will be at Weymar at the
end of this month. I have spoken to Meser at Dresden and warmly
recommended to him H. as the most suitable musician to entrust
with the four-hand pianoforte arrangement of "Tannhauser." If
Meser should write to you about it, be good enough to propose H.
to him for this work in preference to other arrangers and
derangers. Give my best remembrances to G., and abide with me.
CARLSBAD, August 7th, 1853.
P.S.--Our friend Kohler has latterly been severely attacked by
several individuals who have the arrogance to think that they
stand in opposition to you, while in reality they move in a low
and bottomless region. As you probably do not read similar
newspapers, I tell you of the fact, and ask you to take account
of it in your intercourse with Kohler, whom you should keep in
kindly remembrance as one of the loyal.
Kohler will visit you next year; you will be satisfied with him.
I forwarded your letter to him at once.
P.S.--Try, if possible, to be back from your intended journeys by
the end of September, so that we may meet after Carlsruhe. I hope
to be quite free on September 24th.
I returned from St. Moritz a little sooner than I had thought; of
my intention to that effect, I believe I wrote to you before.
Your last letter was forwarded to me punctually. What pleased me
most in it was your good humour and the fact that you spent your
day at Dresden with the R.'s, of which they had already informed
me in great triumph. Reading their accounts, I felt as if I had
been there myself, and as if that evening had only been a
continuation of the Zeltweg days. It was splendid and kind of
you. As to K. I must wait; we shall see later on. George promised
me yesterday that he also would write to you today. From what he
says, he is well inclined towards the matter; I shall be glad if
it is taken in hand seriously, for then I shall have hope for a
possible success of the enterprise even without me.
My dear Franz, once for all do not reckon upon me for any
critico-literary enterprise; I cannot go in for that kind of
thing. Just as some time ago it was an absolute necessity to me
to express my revolution in the fields of art and of life in
perfect continuity, even so, and for that very reason, I have at
present no inclination for such manifestations, which are no
longer a necessity to me. Of this you must be aware, for you know
and prove by your own deeds that "quand on agit, on ne s'explique
pas;" and I am at present disposed only for action, no longer for
explanation. You seem to be of opinion, however, that for the
sake of the cause I might conquer my inclination a little and in
my own way exert myself. It is just this point which I have made
clear to myself: my faculties, taken separately, are not great,
and I can only be and do something good when I concentrate all
those faculties on one impulse and recklessly consume them and
myself for its sake. Whatever part that impulse leads me to
adopt, that I am as long as necessary, be it musician, poet,
conductor, author, reciter, or what not. In that manner I at one
time became a speculative art philosopher. But apart from this
main current I can create and do nothing except under extreme
compulsion, and in that case I should do something very bad and
expose the smallness of my special faculties in a deplorable
manner. What you want of me, or rather, as I know very well, what
X. wants of me, there is no longer any need for my doing. I have
spoken about the theme in question so often and at such length
that I am conscious of having done quite enough. X. and his
friends and enemies have not even read my writings as they should
be read in order to be understood. Otherwise it would be quite
impossible that this wretched "separate art" and "universal art"
should be the upshot of all my disquisitions. Honestly speaking,
I am sick of discussing with stupid people things which they can
never take in, because there is in them not a trace of artistic
or really human stuff. If I were to take up the cudgels once
more, it would be rather against these unfortunate enlightened
people than against the intentionally retrograde Jesuits of
literature, with whom one need not trouble one's self unless one
wants to talk for victory as a litterateur, which has never
entered my mind. Certainly, most certainly, I should be very glad
to know that I had been rightly understood by many people, glad
to see and to hear that clever, instructive, and enlightening
things were written and laid down in a journal devoted to such an
object; this, indeed, would be the reward of my sacrifices. But,
good heavens! there is surely no need that I should write, that I
should help, again; these things should come to me from another
quarter. It cannot possibly suit me to write the same thing over
and over again on the chance of being at last understood, besides
which I should probably only puzzle people worse and worse.
Therefore if, in your opinion, the review cannot be started
without me, I simply say, Very well then; leave it alone, for in
that case it has no object and no value. I still have hopes of
G.; he is certainly lazy, but, at any rate, I know that he knows
what is at stake and what should be done. Moreover, his whole
nature at present impels him to discharge his inner being in the
direction necessary for us; if he once is in the proper swing, I
hope he will persevere. It is of course understood that my
advice, my views, and my opinions are always at his disposal, and
in very special cases I may go to work myself; but I must first
see that others commence and initiate the work.
Before all, keep that unfortunate "Universal Art" out of the
Enough of this!
I am in a miserable condition, and have great difficulty in
persuading myself that it must go on like this, and that it would
not really be more moral to put an end to this disgraceful kind
of life. Solitude and disconsolate loneliness from morning till
night--such are the days that follow each other and make up life.
To cure my sick brain the doctor has prevailed upon me to give up
taking snuff altogether; for the last six days I have not taken a
single pinch, which only he can appreciate who is himself as
passionate a snuff-taker as I was. Only now I begin to perceive
that snuff was the solitary real enjoyment that I had
occasionally, and now I give that up too. My torture is
indescribable, but I shall persevere; that is settled. Therefore
no more snuff-boxes; in future I accept only orders of merit.
My journey is settled in this manner: August 24th I start from
here, and arrive in Turin on the 29th at the latest. You can
address Poste restante, unless you write to me here first, from
where all my letters will be forwarded to me. Genoa, Spezzia,
Nice, will detain me till I hear from you for certain when and
where our meeting is to be. In the "Carlsruhe Gazette" it was
announced that the Musical Festival had been postponed till
October; will our meeting have to be postponed too? If you cannot
come to Paris, I will of course come to Basle; that is
understood. As you happen to be in Leipzig, very kindly remember
me to Brendel; I wish he could have visited me, and think that we
should have got further in many ways. (Devrient was here when I
and my wife too were absent!) Frau Steche recently wrote to me;
she shall have an answer before I start. Could you lend her a
copy of the "Nibelungen"? B. is not to read it out. Altogether I
am very sorry that I ever had the poem printed; it is not to be
pulled about like this; it still is mine.
Have you received any communication as to "Lohengrin" at Leipzig?
Hartel has left me without an answer for ever so long. I hope I
shall hear soon how the matter stands.
Farewell; ah, farewell. How I envy you your whole existence.
Greet your esteemed friend from me, and arrange so that you both
come to Switzerland soon; in that case something may still become
of me. Adieu, dear, unique friend.
ZURICH, August 16th, 1853.
"Sancte Franzisce! ora pro nobis!"
I write to you today from the very first stage of my Italian
journey, because, as fate would have it, I was unable to answer
your last letter from Carlsbad before this. Everything else is
thrown into the shade by our rendezvous in Paris, to which you
have given your consent in so splendid a manner. But now you must
do all in your power to assist me in making it possible. Listen.
The French minister has refused to give me his vise for my
passport to Paris, and today I called on M. Salignac-Fenelon at
Berne and had a long talk with him about it. Here again you must
help me. Salignac, after having become better acquainted with me,
promised that he would write at once to his Government in Paris,
setting forth that, in his opinion, I have been calumniated, that
personally I have inspired him with confidence, etc. He wishes
that you should talk to the French minister at Weimar about this
matter, so that he too might write to Paris and put in a good
word for me. Salignac thinks it would be of good effect if the
Grand Duke himself would say a few words in my favour to the
minister. As I have told them the true object of my journey to
Paris and mentioned Berlioz as one who is to take part in our
meeting, it would be well if you could let Berlioz know at once,
for it is very possible that inquiries may be made of him as to
the truth of my statements. Do get me this vise for Paris. I am
too delighted to think of our meeting. I was in hopes of getting
a few lines from you from Leipzig before my departure, but shall
probably not receive them till I reach Geneva. From the
"Carlsruhe Gazette" I see that the festival is fixed for October
3rd to 5th; to me this delay does not matter, and I hope it does
not to you either. The Hartels recently forwarded to me some
louis d'or on the part of Wirsing, without informing me that you
had been invited to superintend "Lohengrin" at Leipzig or that
you had accepted the invitation. I hope soon to get particulars
from you. I suppose you received my letter at Leipzig. The lazy
H. informs me that he has not yet written to you. What is one to
do? I am on my way to Turin, dearest Franz, where I shall stay a
little time; and if you answer at once, your next letter will
find me there Poste restante. (In any case address Turin until
further notice.) I am out of sorts, and suffer from
sleeplessness. The French vise worries me very much. I should
like so much to meet you in Paris; it would be splendid.
Greet Berlioz for me; he is a funny customer; he has not yet
arrived at the point where millionaires only could be of use to
him. But he is a noble fellow, and all will be right in the end.
Adieu, you best and dearest of all men; continue to love me.
BERNE, August 25th, 1853.
I am back again in Zurich, unwell, low-spirited, ready to die. At
Genoa I became ill, and was terror-struck by my solitary
condition, but I was determined to do Italy, and went on to
Spezzia. My indisposition increased; enjoyment was out of the
question; so I turned back to die or to compose, one or the
other; nothing else remains to me.
Here you have the whole story of my journey, my "Italian
I am anxious because I have had no letter from you for so long.
You received a letter from me at Leipzig; has it annoyed you?
From Berne I wrote to you about the vise of my passport for
France, and you were to send your answer to Turin. If that has
been done, the letter will be forwarded to me. But why is it that
I hear nothing else of you? Has the Carlsruhe festival been
postponed, and will it be too late for you to come to Paris? I
must be content; I want to see you, wherever it may be; if Zurich
is too far for you, I will come to Basle. Paris begins almost to
be unpleasant to me in my imagination; I am afraid of Berlioz.
With my bad French, I am simply lost.
I have found many silly letters here, amongst others the enclosed
from Director Engel, of Kroll's establishment, Berlin. It seems
to me as if I could scarcely accept his proposition. May I leave
the matter to you, and will you kindly take the decision upon
yourself? In order to know what may be useful or detrimental, one
must have a local knowledge, which I cannot possibly acquire
here. Could you through Kroll, SchafFer, and others make
inquiries which would enable you to judge of the effect of such
an undertaking as that projected by Engel? To me this
"Tannhauser" on the concert platform is horrible, in spite of the
six louis d'or for each performance. Of course I cannot tell
whether, apart from the absurdity of the thing, it would not be
well to keep the fire alight in Berlin. It seems certain that in
the higher regions there everything is as dull as possible, and
that no decisive step in my favour will be made in that quarter.
I wish you would simply say "Yes" or "No." How about Leipzig? I
can get no real information from there. It is very long since I
heard anything of you!
Alas! I am out of sorts and God-forsaken. I feel so lonely, and
yet do not want to see any one. What a miserable existence! I
cannot help smiling when I read in B.'s paper the articles by R.
F.'s brother-in-law; the man thinks he is going thoroughly to the
bottom of the thing, because he is so moderate and cautious; he
knows very little of me. Formerly I was very sensitive to being
fumbled about in this manner; at present I am quite indifferent,
because I know that this kind of thing does not touch me at all.
If these people would but know that I wish to be entirely happy
only once, and after that should not care to exist any more! Oh
for the leathern immortality of india-rubber, which these people
think it necessary to attribute to one by way of reward!
Adieu, dearest and best. See that we soon possess each other
again, otherwise I shall go from bad to worse.
Adieu, dear Franz.
ZURICH, September 12th, 1853.
There is a young Frenchman here who lives at Florence, and wants
to become acquainted with my music, in which your pamphlet has
interested him. His journey is arranged chiefly with a view to
hearing my operas, and in order to reward his zeal I thought I
could not very well decline his request of a few lines to you; so
I commend him to your kindness.
ZURICH, September 13th, 1853.
CARLSRUHE, September 19th, 1853.
At last, dearest, unique friend, I am again nearer you, and in a
fortnight or eighteen days we shall meet either at Basle or
Paris. As soon as I know myself I shall send you particulars.
Today I only ask you to send me your passport by return of post,
so that I may transact the affair with the French minister here
in case you have not yet received a definite answer from Berne.
The French minister at Weymar, Baron de Talleyrand, is
unfortunately at present in Scotland, but I think it will require
no special patronage to get the necessary vise. Send me your
passport by return of post, and I will take care of the rest.
At Dresden I stayed lately for more than a fortnight. About
Tichatschek, Fischer (now operatic stage-manager), and the
theatrical affairs there I must tell you several things when I
see you, also about matters at Leipzig. I have settled with Rietz
that I shall be present at the final rehearsals and the first
performance of "Lohengrin," and shall give you an accurate
account of it. When I came to Leipzig, I found a good deal of
gossip about the "Lohengrin" performance current there. But now
it has probably ceased, and you will hear no more of it.
The opera is to be given in the course of November, and, in my
opinion, a very warm reception of your work on the part of the
public may be expected. The fortress of Leipzig has been
conquered for your name and your cause, and even the
"Wohlbekannte" informed me that he had been moved to tears by the
"Lohengrin" finale. If things go on in this way, Leipzig will
soon "Lohengrinize." If there should be a delay of the
performance, it will do no harm; au contraire, and in that
respect even the aforesaid town gossip was not unfavourable. I
shall tell you about all this at length. The matter concerning
Engel I shall settle tomorrow, and shall write to you at once; I
am still a little doubtful whether one ought to accept or not.
Conradi, the Capellmeister, is a friend of mine; and if anything
comes of the matter, I shall put myself in communication with
him. He has known "Tannhauser" ever since the year 1849, when he
was staying at Weymar. Such an undertaking depends largely upon
the manner of execution. For the present I am of opinion that we
ought to be in no hurry about giving our consent; a concert
performance of "Tannhauser" at Kroll's establishment has much
against it, and might probably interfere with the stage
performance which must of necessity follow. Leave the whole
matter to me. H. has a good idea; he thinks that if E. is so
favourably inclined towards spreading your works in Berlin, or
rather towards making money by them, he might arrange a
repetition of your Zurich concerts with the identical programme.
But about this also there is no hurry. On certain conditions I
should be prepared to go to Berlin and undertake the direction of
the three Zurich concerts. I should probably employ the Male
Choir Association which Wieprecht conducts, and of which I have
had the honour of being honorary conductor ever since the year
More about this on an early occasion. In the meantime I think you
will do well to write to E. that you cannot accustom yourself to
the idea of a concert performance of your drama.
Enough for the present.
CARLSRUHE, September 20th, 1853.
Very angry as I am with you for having left me without news so
long, you shall have a rose-coloured sheet today in return for
the excellent news of your proximity and of our early meeting. By
return of post I was unable to answer you, because your letter
had to be forwarded to me at Baden, where I stay at intervals
with my wife, who is undergoing a cure there. Enclosed is the
passport. Salignac-Fenelon, the French minister at Berne, has
sent me no news up to date, and it will therefore be well if you
can settle the matter with the minister at Carlsruhe. Even if
Paris had to be given up for the present, which must entirely
depend on you, it will be of importance to me to have the French
vise, so as not to be shut out from Paris and France for the
future. You may safely offer every possible guarantee, and
promise that I shall not mix myself up with any political
matters. I know that this will satisfy the French Government.
They may, moreover, be certain that I shall not permanently stay
in France, but without fail return to Switzerland. For your
communications about Leipzig and Berlin I thank you cordially; as
to Berlin it shall be exactly as you say.
What will happen at Carlsruhe? D. again left me recently without
an answer, probably because I asked him to advance me the
honorarium for "Tannhauser," as I had reason to be anxious about
By the way, concerning the rendering of the very difficult male
chorus "Im Fruh'n versammelt uns der Ruf," I must ask you to
choose the best singers for it.
For the piano passage (A major, E in the bass) it would be well
if eight soloists were to sing about eight bars by themselves;
the neat, elegant piano cannot be done by a large chorus. (This
is a minor matter.)
You appear to be well and in good spirits; you are a happy man.
From Dresden Julia wrote to me in ecstasy about you; you must
have been very comfortable; a good thing I was not there and
remained alone instead.
Child, I have much to tell you. If matters are to go well, you
must frequently stay in Switzerland; then all will be right.
About this and similar things we shall talk. In the meantime let
me have news from Carlsruhe now and then.
My real life lies always abroad.
God bless you. Take my most joyful greeting and kiss.
ZURICH, September 22nd, 1853.
I have at last hit upon a way of settling your passport affair
which will make it unnecessary for me to have your passport here.
When all is settled, I will let you know how it has been done. I
herewith return your passport and ask you to apply to Fenelon
again, either by letter or personally, when probably he will not
hesitate to affix his vise to your passport. Tell him that you
intend to start for Paris on October 5th at the latest, and that
we two are to meet at Basle. Concerning this meeting I ask you
particularly to be at Basle on the evening of the 6th without
fail. J., Pohl, and probably several others are longing to see
you, and I have promised to take them to you at Basle. I should
like to come again to Zurich, but am too much pressed for time.
At Basle, then, either at the "Storch" or at the "Drei Konige,"
as you prefer. I hope that by that time you will have received
your passport, and we can then at once concoct our journey to
Answer "Yes" without fail, and do not mind the somewhat tedious
journey from Zurich to Basle. Today my rehearsals begin here, and
I shall again have to go to Darmstadt and Mannheim to have
separate rehearsals, till we return here next Saturday for the
general rehearsals. In addition to this, I have to pay my
respects to a number of known and unknown people of all sorts.
Are not your wife and Madame Heim coming to the festival? Let me
know in case they have that intention, for at the last moment it
will be difficult to get tickets.
I am obliged to you for your instruction as to the eight singers
in the A major passage (E in the bass) of the "Lohengrin" chorus,
and shall act upon it. Do not be angry, dearest friend, on
account of my long silence and my insignificant letters. You know
that my whole soul is devoted to you, because I love you
sincerely, and that I always try to serve you as well as I can.
Sunday, September 25th, 1853.
P.S.--It would be the simplest thing if you could go to Berne
yourself; but this is not absolutely necessary, and it will be
sufficient if you write to his Excellency, enclosing your
passport and asking him to return it to you at Zurich by October
3rd. Perhaps it would be better if you were to write, so that he
may forward your letter to Paris. Consider this, and do not
forget that we are to meet at Basle on the evening of October
Best thanks, my dearest Franz. I have just written to M. Fenelon,
enclosing my passport once more. Candidly speaking, the matter
suddenly begins to annoy me very much, and I do not expect a good
result. My wish quite coincides with your plan. I fully
anticipated that Basle could not be avoided altogether; it is
adapted for a meeting with the friends who have come to
Carlsruhe. The excursion to Paris after that concerns us two
alone; so our thoughts have once more been the same.
As to the rest, I am longing to get to work at last. My ordinary
life is unbearable unless I, so to speak, devour myself.
Moreover, I cannot keep my peace, as I particularly want to do,
unless I devote myself to this music.
After your visit, everything came to nothing with me this summer;
no other hope was fulfilled, all went wrong, and--well, we shall
see whether I get this passport.
The day after tomorrow week, we shall meet! (I wish it were the
day after tomorrow.) Will you, or shall I, engage the hotel? Let
it be the "Drei Konige;" they have nice rooms there and a balcony
looking over the Rhine; let us engage some of those. You are once
more in the middle of your exertions, and I must almost envy you;
I at least realize by such exertions alone that I am alive. Rest
is death to me; and if sometimes I go in quest of it,--I mean
that other rest; the beautiful, the joyful,--I feel that in
reality it must be nothing but death, but real, noble, perfect
death, not this death in life which I die from day to day.
Adieu, dearest friend.
What a blessing that you have no double!
Au revoir soon! Your
ZURICH, September 29th, 1853.
It just occurs to me that in "Lohengrin" I have forgotten to mark
the tempo in one place, which I discovered only when I conducted
it here--I mean in the "Bridal Song" in D major, after the second
solo passage of the eight women, the last eight bars before the
[Figure: a musical score]
Here the tempo is to be considerably slower even than at the
first entry of the D major; the impression must be one of solemn
emotion, or else the intention is lost.
How are you?
September 29th, 1853.
In the "Bridal Procession" (E flat), where the first tempo
reappears in the woodwind,
[Figure: a musical score]
that woodwind ought to be doubled.
I have promised the concert score of the "Lohengrin" pieces to
Apt, director of the "Cacilienverein," Prague; therefore kindly
leave word at Carlsruhe that this score is to be sent immediately
after the last concert to Apt in Prague; the parts to go back
Yesterday you had the general rehearsal; I am always with you.
The day after tomorrow! I say, "The day after tomorrow!"
ZURICH. October 2nd, 1853.
Here I stand and stare after you; my whole being is silence; let
me not seek words, even for you. Speech seems to exist only to do
violence to feeling. Therefore no violence, but silence!
I have not much news for you from the "world." Tomorrow I start
for home, but shall see your children before I go. Madame Kalergy
I did not find at home and am doubtful whether I shall see her.
Make my excuses to her.
From Zurich I shall write to you again. Be thanked for your
blissful love! Greet the Princess and the Child! Can I write
more? Ah, I am all feeling. My intellect is within my heart, but
from my heart I cannot write to you.
Farewell, farewell, you dear beloved ones.
PARIS October 26th, 1853.
I suppose you have nothing to write to me, dear Franz, or else
you would have sent me a few lines.
Your children told me that they had had a letter from you,
telling them that you had quickly got to Weimar and had lived
there quietly till your birthday without seeing anybody. On your
birthday I made some music in Paris; I had at last to offer
something to my two or three old Paris friends, one of whom you
Erard sent me a grand pianoforte, which has filled me with a
fanatical desire to perform some flights on it, even if I had
still to learn fingering. So then I began to "Tannhauser" and to
"Lohengrin" on the Boulevard des Italiens as if you were with us.
The poor devils could not understand why I was beside myself.
However, it went better than at Madame Kalergy's, although you
were present then. Why?--Madame Kalergy I did not see again, but
I hope the few lines I sent her have made my excuses. Apart from
this, I received a visit from an agent de police, who, after I
had passed my examination satisfactorily, assured me that I might
stay in Paris a whole month. My answer that I should leave sooner
astonished him, and he repeated that I might stop a whole month.
The good man! dear Paris!, The Emperor also I saw. What more can
The day before yesterday I arrived here. Peps received me
joyfully at the carriage, and in return I gave him a beautiful
collar, engraved with his name, which has become sacred to me. He
never leaves my side; in the morning he comes to my bed to awake
me. He is a dear, good animal. The minster of Strassburg I saw
again; my good wife stood with me in front of it. It was dull,
rainy weather. The divine point of the tower we could not see; it
was covered by mist. How different from that other day, the
sacred Sunday before the minster!
Let it be night; the stars shine then. I look upwards and behold;
for me also there shines a star.
Farewell, and greet the dear ones. Today the Rhinegold was
coursing through my veins; if it is to be, if it cannot be
otherwise, you shall have a work of art that will give you
Dear, unique friend, remember your poor
The "pale mariner" has once more gone across the stage here, and
in his honour I yesterday occupied the conductor's seat again,
after an interval of eight months.
With the "Flying Dutchman" I left the orchestra for a time at the
beginning of last March, and with the same work I resume my
connection with the theatre for this season.
You may assume that my passion for your tone and word-poems is
the only reason why I do not give up my activity as a conductor.
Small as may be the result that I can achieve, it is not, I
think, altogether illusory. We have arranged a Wagner week; and
the "Flying Dutchman," "Tannhauser," and "Lohengrin" have taken
firm ground and cast deep roots here. All the rest is moonshine
to me with the sole exception of Berlioz's "Cellini." For this
work I retain my great predilection, which you will not think
uncalled for when you know it better.
Next week I shall have to rehearse "Tell," and the opera will be
given in a fortnight. "Tannhauser" will follow immediately
afterwards. As our new tenor, Dr. Liebert, a very willing,
industrious, and gifted singer, has never sung the part, I shall
go through it with him separately once or twice. In all
probability the performance this year will be better than the
previous ones. The "Flying Dutchman" was given yesterday, to the
increased satisfaction of the public. Milde and his wife acted
and sang beautifully, and I may assume that you would have
witnessed the performance without grumbling, although our weak
chorus is a fatal evil. Four or five new engagements have been
made for the chorus, but that of course is by no means
Immediately after my return, I proposed to Zigesar to give
"Lohengrin," with Tichatschek and Johanna, on the evening when
the court visits the theatre again. (The strict mourning will
last several months still, and during that time the court box
remains empty and dark.) If no special impediments arise, that
performance will take place. Up till then I shall conduct only
your two operas, "Tell" and Dorn's "Nibelungen."
Of my personal affairs I say nothing. The poor Princess sends her
friendliest greetings. She is troubled with a large mass of
correspondence of the most unpleasant kind. May God grant that
next summer we enter a new stage of the status quo, and that our
Zurich trip need not be delayed after the end of June. Your
"Rhinegold" is ready, is it not? Bestir yourself, dearest friend.
Work is the only salvation on this earth. Sing and write,
therefore, and get rid of your brain abscess by that means.
Perhaps your sleep will become a little more reposeful in the
same manner. Kind remembrances to your wife from your
October 31 1853.
Do you remember a Herr Friedrich Schmitt, professor of singing at
Munich? Have you read his pamphlet, and what do you think of it?
Write me two words about it. How about Tyszkiewiz? Did you see
him at Paris several times after I had left?
My threat that I should once more lay you under contribution in
an impudent manner must today be realized. Listen to me! I feel
so hale and hearty at my work that I may expect everything--not
only the success of my music, but better health as well--if I can
only stick to it without interruption and yield to my splendid
mood without anxiety. If I had to get up in the morning without
taking at once to my music, I should be unhappy. This is the
first day I break into in order, if possible, to get rid once for
all of this fear which follows me like a treacherous spectre. For
that reason I must arrange my money affairs so as not to be
molested by them any longer. This I can do by selling my
theatrical royalties on Lohengrin. By the peculiar character of
this income I am kept in a state of strange and most painful
excitement. Although it is tolerably certain that my two last
operas will be given at all German theatres, as "Tannhauser" has
already been at most of them, the time when they may be asked for
and paid for is so uncertain that I, being largely dependent upon
this income, often get into a fatally unsettled state of mind, in
which my sanguine temperament is apt to suggest to me that the
royalties to be expected are nearer than they really are. By that
means I overrate my immediate income, and consequently spend
considerably more than I possess. By the occasional and illusory
character of these theatrical royalties and by my certainly
indefensible liking for a pleasanter way of life than I have led
these last years, I have been placed in the position of having to
pay large sums next Christmas without being able to reckon upon
any income whatever with certainty. Even if the case were not as
urgent as it is, this eternal waiting upon chance, this continual
expectation of the postman, whether he is going to bring me an
offer or a favourable answer, are so troublesome, so humiliating
and disturbing to me, that I am compelled to think of a radical
cure, and for that purpose I want you to assist me with the
Hartels. I propose to sell to the Hartels the copyright of the
score of "Lohengrin," including the right of selling it to
theatrical managers, with the following exceptions only:--
1. The court theatres of Berlin, Vienna, and Munich, which will
have to acquire the performing rights of "Lohengrin" from me.
2. The theatres of Weimar, Dresden, Wiesbaden, and Leipzig, which
have already obtained those performing rights from me. A list of
the theatres which will have to apply to the new proprietor will
be found on the enclosed sheet. It includes all those theatres
which have already successfully produced "Tannhauser" or will
produce it soon, as may be safely predicted from these
precedents. In the case of the twenty-two theatres to which I
have already sold "Tannhauser" the amount of the honorarium
received has been indicated; and for the correctness of these
indications, as well as for the fact that I am not going to let
the other fifteen theatres have it cheaper than is in each case
stated, I pledge my word of honour. The aggregate income from the
twenty-two and from the fifteen theatres I calculate, as the
enclosure shows, at six hundred and thirty-two louis d'or; and
the question is now what sum I can demand of the purchaser of
"Lohengrin," including the theatrical rights, on condition that
he pays me in cash by Christmas of the present year; that is, by
December 20th, 1853.
I should prefer to apply to Messrs. Hartel in this matter--(1)
because they would be the most respectable purchasers; (2)
because they are the publishers of the score and pianoforte
arrangements, and are therefore interested in the success of the
whole; and (3) because this would at last give me an opportunity
of coming to terms with them as to a proper honorarium for the
copyright of "Lohengrin."
If Messrs. Hartel remember in what circumstances I at that time
offered them the publication of "Lohengrin"; if they call to mind
that I expressly told them that I did not believe in the success
of my operas, at least during my lifetime, and that therefore I
looked upon their undertaking the publication simply as a
sacrifice, which they made in the interest of a hopeless but
respectable cause; if they bear me out in saying that I myself
acknowledged the wiping out of an old debt (of the settlement of
which they had, on account of my position, the very remotest
chance) to be in these hopeless circumstances a sacrifice on
their part, but that at the same time I expressed my conviction
that in case, against all expectation, "Lohengrin" should turn
out a success, and its publication a good speculation, they would
think of me in a generous manner--in case of all this these
gentlemen will not consider it unfair or inopportune if I look
upon the circumstances as changed to such an extent that I may
now think of some profit for myself. In the first instance it is
a fact confirmed to me by repeated observations and experiences
that even before there was a sign of a further spreading of these
operas by means of theatrical and concert performances the
publication of my works had developed into an exceptionally good
business, entirely through means of Weimar and of your efforts,
dearest friend. In consequence of some concerts, and recently the
incredibly successful performance at Wiesbaden, this has become
more and more certain, and nothing similar has perhaps ever
happened to an opera before it had been made known by the leading
theatres. It has also been shown that wherever parts of it were
performed the music of "Lohengrin" was much more attractive even
than that of "Tannhauser", although the latter also occupies the
theatres and the public to such a degree that it everywhere
prepares the way for "Lohengrin". It may therefore be confidently
assumed that "Lohengrin", after the example of "Tannhauser", will
make the round of all the theatres and secure the favour of the
public even more lastingly than the latter, which has been the
saving of more than one manager. In such circumstances, while
thanking the Messrs. Hartel for undertaking the publication in
the first instance, I venture to remind them of a debt of honour
in the sense that they should allow me to have my share in this
success of the business. If, in accordance with their generous
turn of mind, I may expect Messrs. Hartel to be favourably
inclined towards this--especially as at the time they undertook
the matter less for the sake of gain than of honour--the question
would only be in what manner they should assign to me my share of
the profits. Perhaps they would be very willing to let me have a
certain portion of the money accruing from the sale of detached
parts of the opera. I remember that when, ten years ago, I
proposed to them the publication of the "Flying Dutchman," they
offered me the profits of the sale of the large pianoforte score
after fifty or a hundred copies had been disposed of. Lucrative
as my share might turn out in this manner, yet this kind of
income would show the same unsatisfactory and painful features
already complained of in connection with the uncertain theatrical
royalties, which therefore I should like to sell outright. I
should then prefer a sum payable at once, and all that we need
find out is the price, fair to both parties. For that purpose I
may first mention the step which I have fixed upon taking in
order to make the copyright of "Lohengrin" much more valuable
than otherwise it would be--I mean the publication of separate
vocal and pianoforte pieces. We all know that the so-called
morceaux detaches are the chief source of profit in the case of
operas; to publish such would in the case of "Lohengrin" be
impossible on account of the peculiar character of the opera, in
which there are no single vocal pieces that in a manner detach
themselves from the context. I alone, being the composer, was
able to separate a number of the most attractive vocal pieces
from the whole by means of rearranging and cutting them and
writing an introduction and a close to them, etc. Nine such
pieces, short, easy, and even popular, I gave you some time ago,
asking you to keep them till further order and then send them to
Messrs. Hartel; they may be published as arranged by me. In
addition to this, I indicated to B. five numbers, arranged in a
similar manner as the vocal pieces, only longer, which he is to
transfer to the pianoforte as independent and melodious pieces.
By that manner the bad impression of the pianoforte scores
without words, arranged without my concurrence, and perfectly
useless, would be obviated.
Apart from adding in this way to the value of the copyright, I
have opened to my publishers an unexpected source of income by
transferring to them the right of printing the librettos for the
theatres. How very lucrative this generally acknowledged right is
may be seen from the fact that in one winter six thousand copies
of the libretto of "Tannhauser" were ordered for Breslau alone.
Messrs. Hartel offered to share the profits of the sale of
librettos with me, but in this case also I prefer to take at once
a lump sum, to be settled upon. After having stated in this
manner what I offer to my publishers for sale, I think it
appropriate to name the lump sum which I think I may ask.
The receipts from the theatres (with the exception of those
specified) I have in the above calculated at six hundred and
thirty-two louis d'or. This is a minimum which, no doubt, could
be considerably increased. I have already announced to the
theatres that they will have to pay more for "Lohengrin" than for
"Tannhauser." Breslau, for example, would certainly have to pay
at the least twenty-five louis d'or, as they did for the "Flying
Dutchman," instead of twenty; I might even insist on thirty.
Apart from this, I have not mentioned all the theatres; I have,
for example, omitted Ratisbon, Innsbruck, and others, although
even the smallest theatres have attempted "Tannhauser;" Zurich
also I have not mentioned. In addition to this, I place at the
disposal of the purchasers the non-German theatres abroad, such
as Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, etc., with the
exception, however, of London and Paris. All this and everything
accruing from the copyright I should cede to the Messrs. Hartel
for the sum of 15,000 francs (I have calculated the theatrical
receipts at a minimum of 13,000 francs), payable in full at
Zurich on December 20th.
I wish very much that this or something similar could be brought
about, so that I might be able to dispose of the next few years--
those most important working years--and to keep them clear of all
mean anxieties. If you consider, dearest Franz, that I do not
offer rubbish for sale, that in the future this opera and
"Tannhauser" alone are likely to yield me an income--I do not
wish, even in my thoughts, to soil the "Nibelungen" with Jewish
calculations, so as to keep them, if possible, quite clean in
this respect also--if you, finally, go through my general, but I
think accurate and by no means chimerical, calculations, you will
perhaps find my demand fair enough and--now I am coming to it--
support it with the Hartels.
This I ask you fervently to do.
An opportunity will be offered to you by the impending
performance of "Lohengrin" at Leipzig. No one of course can
compel the Hartels to undertake the purchase, even for a smaller
sum; but if any one can, it is you, and therefore I had to apply
Perish all this Jewish business! Today has been a bad, musicless
day; out of doors also it is grey and misty; let us hope tomorrow
will be better.
Farewell, my most unique, my dearest friend.
ZURICH, November 16th, 1853.
I returned last night from Leipzig with a bad cold; and the
enclosed letter from Hartel, which I found here, has made my cold
and my temper worse. When I went to Leipzig on December 1st, I
spoke to the Hartels about your proposal, and showed them your
letter, because that document explains the matter clearly and
comprehensively. I have known the Hartels for years to be
respectable and comme il faut, and therefore flattered myself
that they would meet your wish in one way or another. Such,
however, is unfortunately not the case; and I am in the
unpleasant position of having to forward you a refusal. It is
just possible that they were a little riled by your dislike of
the pianoforte arrangement for four hands, which I think quite
justified and natural on your part. I was unable to conceal this
detail from them, because I think it of some importance for all
further copyright transactions. The Hartels belong to the
"moderate party of progress," and are influenced by several
friends of the so-called historic school. Jahn especially is a
great friend of Dr. Hartel's; and your and my friends Pohl,
Ritter, Brendel, etc., are a little in their bad books.
Tomorrow week (December 21st) "Lohengrin" is announced at
Leipzig, but probably the first performance will be delayed till
the 26th (Boxing Day). In any case I shall go over for the two
last general rehearsals and for the first performance, and shall
send you an accurate account. Rietz is said to be very careful
with the orchestral rehearsals, taking the woodwind, the brass,
and the strings separately. Altogether the "Lohengrin"
performance at Leipzig has been very well prepared, and a
decisive and permanent success of the work may be anticipated
Berlioz has had his revanche for his previous appearance at the
Gewandhaus by the two performances of his works which took place
at the Gewandhaus December lst and nth, under his own direction.
I was present on both occasions, and shall tell you more about it
when we meet. Today he returns to Paris, and at the end of April
he is coming to Dresden, where Luttichau has offered him the
chance of conducting two concerts at the theatre. There is also
some talk of a musical festival under Berlioz's direction at
Brunswick next summer, where his Requiem and Te Deum are to be
"Tannhauser" will be given here next Sunday. I have studied the
part with Liebert, and think that he will do it well. The whole
finale of the second act will be given, also the new close with
the reappearance of Venus, and on an early occasion I mean to
restore the sixteen bars in the adagio of the finale of the
second act which I believe T. had cut; that is, if you agree. It,
however, always requires some prudence and caution to make
similar changes here, especially as the theatre is to be
conducted more than ever on economic principles, etc.
How is Herwegh? I shall write to him this week for certain. Since
my return to Weymar I have been plagued in many ways; my chief
business is almost in a worse state than before, but there is not
as yet any definite result. Pardon me, dearest Richard, if I pass
this over in silence; you know that generally it is my way if I
can say nothing good....
I should have liked much to send you a different answer from the
Hartels; but, alas! it cannot be helped. Be of good courage,
nevertheless, and work at your Rhinegold. Next summer I hope to
visit you and to stay with you for some time. My best
remembrances to your wife. The honey she sent me is splendid, and
I am always rejoiced to look at it when it is put on the table in
the morning with my coffee.
Farewell, dearest Richard, and write soon to
WEYMAR. December 13th, 1853.
Hoplit's pamphlet about the Carlsruhe Musical Festival you have
probably received. At Christmas I shall send you the Kunstler
chorus, which is being autographed in full score.
Two words today in great haste. I am angry with myself for having
burdened an overpatient friend like you with this Hartel affair.
Pardon me. It is all over now, and (D.V.) you will hear nothing
more about this Jewish business. I am, it is true, for the moment
in an awkward position, but you must not mind that. Are you out
But you are composing. The Princess has written to me about it.
You must surprise me soon!
I spin myself in like a cocoon, but I also spin something out of
myself. For five years I had written no music; now I am in
Nibelheim. Mime made his complaint today. Unfortunately I was
last month taken ill with a feverish cold, which disabled me for
ten days; otherwise the sketch would have been ready this year.
At times also my somewhat cloudy situation disturbs me; there is
at present an ominous calm around me. But by the end of January I
must be ready. Enough for today. I have many things to tell you,
but my head is burning. There is something wrong with me; and
sometimes, with lightning-like rapidity, the thought flashes
through me that it would be better, after all, if I died. But
that has nothing to do with my writing music. Adieu. Greet the
Princess and the Child many times. Soon more from
ZURICH, December 17th, 1853.
P.S.--You will have another letter very soon.
Many thanks, you dear bringer of Christmas cheer. You come like a
true saviour to me, and I have placed you on my work-table, as on
an altar. Thanks, a thousand thanks, to you for coming. I was
If I had a sweetheart, I think I should never write to her, and
to you also I must write little--I mean writing apart from
relating external events. The events I experience within me I can
write of all the less, because I could not even tell them, so
necessary is it to me to feel or--to act.
I know that I shall have another letter from you soon, because
you have something to relate to me; so I am proud, and rely upon
it, and keep my peace, telling you thereby that I love you
sincerely with all my heart.
ZURICH, December 25th, 1853.
Thursday, December 29th, 1853.
WEYMAR,--just returned from Leipzig.
After waiting in vain yesterday and the day before at Leipzig for
"Lohengrin," I returned here today. Probably the performance will
not take place for a few days; at present nothing can be settled,
because now Elsa, now the King or Telramund, is ill, or because
the bass clarinet ordered from Erfurt has not arrived; and when
it does arrive at Leipzig, it is not certain whether the
clarinet-player there will be able to play it, etc., etc.
David and Pohl had informed me Monday evening that the general
rehearsal would take place on Tuesday. I had to conduct
"Tannhauser" here on Monday, December 26th. This was the second
performance with Liebert as "Tannhauser;" the first took place on
the preceding Sunday (December 18th), the subscription being on
both occasions suspended--an unprecedented fact at Weymar in
connection with an opera which had reached its fifteenth
performance. House crowded, so that on the first occasion many
people had to be refused admission. Performance upon the whole
satisfactory; Liebert in places excellent. The tempi were slower
than Tichatschek takes them, just as I had studied them with
Liebert; for I had been obliged again to have five or six
rehearsals of "Tannhauser." Your metronomical indications I
naturally accepted as my rule, which formerly I had not been able
to do--69 for the song of "Tannhauser," 70 or thereabouts for the
D major passage of Wolfram, etc. The impression on the whole
public was striking and inspiriting. The Mildes were called
Liebert was called, and even my nose had to show itself at the
end. In brief, the two evenings gave me a degree of pleasure
which only my fear that you, glorious, dearest, best of friends,
might be in trouble, could impair.
But to continue. Tuesday, at 3 a.m., with the thermometer at
twenty degrees below zero, I and Cornelius took the train in
order to be at Leipzig in time for the "Lohengrin" rehearsal at
8.30 a.m. I at once sent word to David, who informed me that the
rehearsal would not take place, on account of the indisposition
of Herr Schott (King Henry). David soon afterwards called on me,
and gave me hopes for another day. Yesterday they sent a telegram
here to summon the Mildes, for Brassin and Frau Meyer also had
been taken ill, but Zigesar would not permit the Mildes to go to
Leipzig, because the "Flying Dutchman" is announced here for New
Year's Day. At last this morning I am credibly informed that some
days must elapse before "Lohengrin" is given at Leipzig. They
promised to let me know by telegram as soon as anything was
settled; and if I can possibly manage, I shall again go to
Leipzig, in order to give you an account of the performance.
In the meanwhile I have handed the nine pieces from "Lohengrin,"
which H. had recently sent me, to the Hartels; and you will have
a letter about them together with these lines, as Dr. Hartel
assured me yesterday that he would write to you direct and
without delay. En fin de compte: The Hartels are very
trustworthy; and if you will permit me, I advise you to make use
of their excellent and well-deserved reputation as publishers,
because I feel convinced that later on your relations with them
will turn out very satisfactory. As you have appointed me your
humble court-counsellor, I add the remark that you will be well
advised in insisting upon H.'s name being inserted in the title-
page of the Lohengrin pieces, for there is no rational cause for
refusing H. this satisfaction, which he has fully deserved by his
faithful and energetic adherence to you as well as by his actual
The Hartels will finally agree to this, and I have spoken to them
in that sense. Of course in similar affairs I have to take the
mild position of a mediator, which now and then is a little
troublesome. However, so it must be; and side issues must not be
allowed to impede or endanger the principal question. If
therefore you reply to the Hartels, write to them that you
specially desire to have the name of H., as the author of the
pianoforte arrangement of your "Lohengrin" pieces, inserted in
their edition, and that if you write other operas later on you
intend to entrust H. with the pianoforte arrangement. H. is
devoted to you heart and soul, and you may feel sure that he will
do the work to your satisfaction. However, if you like, I will
revise the arrangement and after that send it to you, so that not
a single note may remain which does not please you and is not in
accordance with the design of the composition as well as with the
requirements of the pianoforte. On New Year's Day we shall have
the "Flying Dutchman" here. The two last performances of
"Tannhauser" have made Weymar your official "Moniteur" amongst
theatres; and, without flattering myself, I venture to doubt
whether your works have been performed anywhere else in an
equally satisfactory manner all round. For next year, for
example, a new hall of Castle Wartburg is being painted, also a
bridal chamber for the third act of "Lohengrin," etc. Several a
little more expensive dresses have been ordered, and in May
Tichatschek and probably Johanna will play Lohengrin and Ortrud.
All that is possible has been done. The impossible you will
provide in the "Rhinegold." How far have you got with it? Shall I
have the score in May, according to promise? Go on with it
bravely! As soon as you have finished, the rest will follow.
Forget all about Philistia and Jewry, but remember cordially
I presume you have received the medallion which the Princess sent
you. In the first week of the new year I shall send you the score
of my "Kunstler" chorus, which I have had autographed here.
Devote a quarter of an hour to it, and tell me plainly your
opinion of the composition, which of course I look upon only as a
stepping-stone to other things. If you find it bad, bombastic,
mistaken, tell me so without hesitation. You may be convinced
that I am not in the least vain of my works; and if I do not
produce anything good and beautiful all my life, I shall none the
less continue to feel genuine and cordial pleasure in the
beautiful and good things which I recognize and admire in others.
Farewell, and God be with you.
END OF VOL I.
INFO ABOUT THIS E-TEXT EDITION
This volume of "Correspondence of Wagner and Liszt" is the first
volume of a 2-volume set. The letters were translated into English
by Francis Hueffer. Each page was
cut out of the book with an X-acto knife and fed into an Automatic
Document Feeder Scanner to make this e-text; hence, the original
book was disbinded in order to save it.
Some adaptations from the original text were made while
formatting it for an e-text. Italics in the original book were
ignored in making this e-text, unless they referred to proper
nouns, in which case they are put in quotes in the e-text.
Italics are problematic because they are not easily rendered in
Almost everything occurring in brackets [ ] are original
footnotes inserted into the text.
Also, special German characters like U with an umlaut, and French
characters like a's and e's with various markings above them were
ignored, replaced with their closet single-letter equivalents. U
with an umlaut is U, A with a caret above it is A, and so on.
This electronic text was prepared by John Mamoun with help from
numerous other proofreaders, including those associated with
Charles Franks' Distributed Proofreaders website. Special thanks
to N. Harris, S. Harris, T. McDermott, A. Montague, S. Morrison,
K. Peterson, P. Suryanarayanan, V. Walker, R. Zimmermann and
several others for proof-reading.
This e-text is public domain, freely copyable and distributable
for any non-commercial purpose, and may be included without
royalty or permission on a mass media storage product, such as a
cd-rom, that contains at least 50 public domain electronic texts,
even if offered for commercial purposes. Any other commercial
usage requires permission. The biographical sketch was prepared
for this e-text and is also not copyright and is public domain.