[Sevilla, end of December, 1844]
You have not told me too much of the wonders of Seville, Madame, and, nevertheless, you could hardly have told me beforehand of that which I have found the most charming–the letter from Mademoiselle Caroline. Thanks to her charming lines, I found myself in the best possible frame of mind for the enjoyment of all imaginable chefs d’oeuvre, and I could not have been more disposed to admiration and wonderment! During the ten days which I have just spent in Seville I have not allowed a single day to pass without going to pay my very humble court to the cathedral, that epic of granite, that architectural Symphony whose eternal harmonies vibrate in infinity!–
One cannot use any set phrases about such a monument. The best thing to do would be to kneel there with the faith of the charcoal-burner (if one could do so), or to soar in thought the length of these arches and vaulted roofs, for which it seems that there is even now “no longer time”!–As for me, not feeling myself enough of the charcoal-burner or of the eagle, I am constrained to stand with my nose in the air and mouth open. Nevertheless my prayer sometimes climbs up like useless ivy, lovingly embracing those knotted shafts which defy all the storms of the genius of Christianity.
Whatever you may think of my enthusiasm for your cathedral, it is a fact that I have been entirely absorbed by it during the ten days I have spent in Seville; so much so, that it was only on the evening before my departure that I could prevail on myself to visit the Alcazar.
In truth, if one might wish for the re-introduction of the bastinado, it would be to apply it exclusively to those malicious wretches who have dared to besmear so many ravishing flights of fancy, so many fairy-like vagaries, with lime and plaster.
What adorable enchantment and what hideous devastation!
The heart expands–and then contracts at every step. Little do I care for the gardens (which, by the way, slightly resemble the ornamental gardens of a priest); little do I care even for the baths of Maria Padilla, which, in fact, have slightly the effect of an alkaline; but what outlines, what harmonious profusion in these lines, what incredible voluptuousness in all this ornamentation! Would that I could send them you in this envelope, such as I have felt and devoured them with my eyes!
Here are, indeed, many marks of admiration, and you will certainly smile at me, will you not, Madame? But what can I do? And how, after that, can I speak to you of myself and my paltry individuality?
390. To Madame (?)
[Autograph sketch of a letter, without address, date, and conclusion, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.]
[Probably beginning of 1845]
What are your travelling plans for this winter, Madame? Mine are quite unsettled. I did not succeed in leaving Spain, and the fact is that, being well, there is no sense in searching for better elsewhere.The only thing that provokes me is the necessity in which I am placed of having to give up the rest of my duties at Weymar for this winter. But I shall try to take a brilliant revenge in the course of this very year.
In spite of our agreement I have not sent you the bulletin of my peaceful victories in the arena of Madrid [Liszt gave concerts in the Teatro del Circo in Madrid from October till December 1844.](and elsewhere), because you know that there are certain things which are moreover very simple, but which I cannot do. More than once, nevertheless, I have regretted you in your founder’s loge–the first in front–and I have turned to that side in expectancy of the inciting bravos which used to begin before all the others at the brilliant passages!
La Melinetti will doubtless have given you my ancient news from Pau! Poor woman, with her luxury of a husband (a superfluity which was not in the least a necessary thing for her), and her little impulsive ways,…she has really promised me to be at length reasonable, steady, and deliberate. I hope she will keep her word. With a little wit, behavior, and tact, she could make herself a very good position in Pau. Mme. d’Artigaux, [When unmarried, as Countess Caroline St. Criq, sixteen years before this time, she had possessed Liszt’s whole heart, while hers belonged to him. But the command of her father, Minister St. Criq, separated eir ways, because he–was only an artist. Liszt thought of her in his last Will, but she left this world before him, at the beginning of the seventies.] who is the most ideally good woman I know, takes a real interest in her. Several other people sincerely wish her well–it only depends on herself to take a good position there–but unfortunately she is too outspoken, and inclined to play tricks.
What do you know of the elegaic and seraphic Chopin? I wrote a few lines from Pau to Mme. Sand, but my letter hardly asked for a reply, and she has, moreover, better things to do.
391. To Madame (?) in Milan
[Autograph in the Liszt-Museum in Weimar]
I am at your feet, Madame, and kiss your hands–but it is impossible not to quarrel with you, and that seriously, over the last lines of your letter! Through what absence of mind, let me ask you, could you have written to me, “I do not speak to you of our affairs because I remember that your sympathies are not with us”? Frankly, if you were to tell me that I have never played any but false notes on the piano, and that my calling was that of a retail grocer, this opinion would offer, to my thinking, a greater degree of probability. Evidently, in my double character of citizen and musician, I am not even to exonerate myself from the fault you [ascribe] to me. Suffer me then not to dwell longer upon it, and deign for the future to spare me the pain which all suspicion of this kind would cause me.
Otherwise your letter was a great joy to me; first, as coming from you; and then, as announcing the realization of a wish, an idea, to the postponement of which I had resigned myself as well as I could, but which I had hardly relinquished. Your Sardanapalus comes in the nick of time, just as the 2000 francs will be opportune to the poet. The mode of payment is very simple. Belloni’s sister being in Milan, she will have the honor of calling upon you, and an return for the restoration of the manuscript she will discharge the total of my debt, viz., two thousand francs. Allow me only a last request, which is that you will kindly take the trouble to read the whole libretto through again, and, if it should be expedient, to communicate to the poet direct any observations which you consider necessary. The notes and commentaries which you have added on the margin of Rotondi’s libretto (which I keep very carefully) showed such a complete virtuosity in this style of subject that one could not possibly do better than submit with confidence to your decision.–[The plan of composing an opera “Sardanapalus” occupied Liszt for years.]
Thanks to God, and to this good star which has let me live many years pretty uprightly, “as if I were immortal,” as you put it, behold me now since the end of September in last year entirely out of the circle of concerts–and it does not seem likely that I shall soon return to this drudgery.–I shall remain in Weymar till the 15th August; then I shall go and make a tour in the Crimea by way of the Danube, probably returning by Constantinople if I can manage it.–
Next spring “Sardanapalus” will be ready,–and I shall perhaps have to speak to you about another matter at the same time, a matter about which it is worth while speaking to you.–
Be good enough to acknowledge the receipt of these lines; but pray spare me abuse, and be pleased to do me the honor of believing without reserve or restriction in the upright sincerity of my sympathies, and in my frank and firm good-will to transform them into acts or deeds, according to circumstances, in the degree of which I am capable.
Yours ever, with admiration and friendship,
392. To Frau Charlotte Moscheles (?)
[Draft of an undirected autograph letter in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.–Presumably written to the wife of the distinguished piano-virtuoso and teacher Ignaz Moscheles]
I am most grateful to you, Madame, for wishing to keep me in remembrance on the occasion of the publication of the Album of Workers, and I hasten to reply as quickly and as well as I can.
I must, nevertheless, confess to you in all sincerity that I am a little embarrassed as to the choice to be made among the number of useless and unusable manuscripts which I should be charmed to put at your kind disposal. After the Arbeiter Chor [workman’s chorus] and the Arbeiter Marsch [workman’s march] with which I have just gratified two Albums in Vienna, your gracious letter comes as a surprise rather short of apropos. How malapropos, is it not? But let us see how to remedy this.–
I thought first of a “Marche funebre” for the use of the bankers; then of an “Elegie” dedicated to the idle; next of “Jeremiades Omnibus” [lamentations for all];–but nothing of that sort quite satisfies me.
In default of perfection, permit me to be satisfied with the relative best (which will be, it seems to me, a better choice): a Paraphrase–charitably adapted to the fingers of charitable pianists who will have the charity to buy and to play it–of Rossini’s “Charite;” which I shall have the honor of sending to you through Mr. Kistner early in July. An old saying of a very old Father of the Church would, if needful, justify this choice. “In things necessary, Unity; in matters doubtful, Liberty; in all things, Charity!”–
Will you have the goodness, Madame, to remember me very kindly to my excellent master and friend, Moscheles? and accept again, I beg you, the expression of my respect, and of my most affectionate sentiments.
Weymar, June 22nd, 1848
393. To Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst
[Portions of this, as of the previous letter, were printed in the “Voltaire.”–Addressee the famous violin virtuoso and composer (1814-1865)]
May 30th, 1849
Weymar has not forgotten you, and I hope soon to be able, after the return of the Hereditary Prince whom we expect for the day of his fete, by the 24th of May at the very latest, to forward to you the token of the distinguished remembrance in which you are held. It pleases me to think that it will be agreeable to you, and that it will tend to attach you more in the sequel to people worthy to appreciate you.
I should have desired to tell you sooner of this, but the inevitable delays in present circumstances postpone more than one wish.
After the deplorable days in Dresden Wagner came here, and only departed again in order to escape from a warrant (lettre de cachet) with which the Saxon government is pursuing him. I hope that at the present moment he will have arrived safe and well in Paris, where his career of dramatic composer cannot fail to be extended, and in grand proportions. He is a man of evident genius, who must of necessity obtrude himself on the general admiration, and hold a high place in contemporary art. I regret that you have not had the opportunity of hearing his “Tannhauser,” which is for me the most lyric of dramas, the most remarkable, the most harmonious, the most complete, the most original and selbstwurdig (the most worthy of its country), both in foundation and form, that Germany has produced since Weber. Belloni has, I believe, written to you on the subject of Wagner, to ask for information as to the actual state of the English Opera in London. I make no doubt that if it were possible for Wagner to obtain from the directors a tour of performances in the course of the year for a new work (“Lohengrin,” the subject of which, having reference to the Knights of the Round Table who went to search for the Holy Grail, is of the most poetic interest) he would make a great sensation and large receipts by it. As soon as he tells me the news of his arrival in Paris, allow me to induce him to write to you direct if his plans do not change in this matter.
394. To Joseph Dessauer
[Draft of an autograph letter, without address, date, and conclusion, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.]
[Probably at the beginning of the fifties.]
Heartiest thanks for your Songs. I rejoice that you consider me worthy of a dedication, and I promise you that if we meet again I will sing you the songs by heart. Perhaps you will bring me again into such a mood for songs as will impel me to write something of that sort. My earlier songs are mostly too ultra sentimental, and frequently too full in the accompaniment.
395. Testimonial for Joachim Raff
[Draft of an autograph letter, without address and date, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar]
[Probably at the beginning of the fifties.]
The talents of M. Raff as composer and musician are a fact so evident and certain, his recent orchestral compositions as well as his works for voice and piano furnish such forcible proofs of it, that I consider it superfluous to add to this evidence and to certify it further.
Having had more opportunity than others, during the few years of our intercourse, of appreciating his capacities (notably at the time of the Musical Festival at Bonn for the inauguration of Beethoven’s monument in 1845,-and of those to Herder and Goethe at Weymar in 1850, etc.), knowing thoroughly both the score of his four-act Opera “King Alfred,” given many times with great success in Weymar under the author’s conductorship, as well as many of his manuscript works, which I sincerely esteem, I shall always make it my duty seriously to recommend M. Raff to those of the Musical Institutes which attach a value to the possession of an intelligent director and one well acquainted with the exigencies and the progress of the art.
396. To Dr. Eduard Hanslick in Vienna
[The renowned musical author and critic (born in Prague in 1825), professor of the history of music in the University of Vienna.– The letter refers to the Mozart jubilee concert conducted by Liszt in Vienna, and to Hanslick’s critique, in which he censured the want of courtesy with which Liszt, who had been invited to conduct this concert, was treated by the committee and the public.]
The manner in which you have given an account in the Presse of the two concerts of Sunday and Monday, corresponds entirely with the opinion which I had of you–and you have proved yourself on this occasion, according to your custom, an eminent critic and a perfect gentleman. [The word “gentleman” is in English in Liszt’s letter.]
Permit me to offer you my sincere thanks for the part you have been pleased to devote to me, and to hope that the coming years, in bringing us more together, will better enable me to prove the sincere sentiments of esteem and distinguished regard, the assurance of which I beg you to accept.
January 3lst, 1856
397. To the Austrian Minister of the Interior, Freiherr von Bach
[Autograph sketch of a letter in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar. The Gran Mass was in fact engraved and published by the State printing-press at Vienna.]
The interest and protection which your Excellency extends to the spiritual interests of the empire permit me to bring forward the wish and the petition that the Mass which I composed by order of His Eminence the Prince Primate of Hungary for the Dedication- Festival of the Basilica at Gran, and performed there on the 3lst August, may be printed and published in full score and piano score by the Royal Imperial State printing-press at the cost of the State.
Without improperly praising my own composition I venture humbly to express the confidence that the Catholic significance and spirit which form its groundwork and supplement its modest porportions would gradually be more propagated and comprehended by the publication of the work, so that I might hope to have furnished a not unworthy contribution to Christian Art as well as to the great Church and Country’s Festival of the 31st August.
In the expectation that my request will meet with that assisting favor which is indispensable to earnest and honest artistic effort, I have the honor to remain most obediently
Your Excellency’s most humble and devoted servant,
Vienna, September 18th, 1856
398. To (?) in Leipzig
[Draft of an autograph letter, without address, date, and conclusion, in the Liszt-Museum at Weimar.–The contents refer to the Orchestral Concert of the Tonkunstler-Versammlung, planned and carried out at Leipzig in the beginning of June, 1859.]
At the same time with your letter I received from Brendel fuller information about the Leipzig preliminaries, to which he will also receive a fuller reply.
I am not of opinion that the Orchestral concert is to be given up immediately on account of the negative decision of Rietz. Very possibly David will undertake to conduct it, and I advise Brendel to come to a good understanding with him about it. On the other hand it might be expected, in a case of necessity, that the Weimar and Sondershausen orchestras would unite to carry out the Programme. But this latter must be as strictly adhered to as was formerly determined, and not lose its exclusive character as “compositions by collaborators of the newspaper only”–Schumann, Berlioz, Wagner, R. Franz, and lastly my humble self. I cannot therefore in any respect agree to the concession enjoined by Brendel, of admitting works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc., nor do I see the motive of it. As far as the musical is concerned, I consider it impossible to give such an exceedingly rich programme on one evening without stupifying the public; that would go beyond the ill-famed London concerts which last six hours, not to speak of the fact that we should have to put the recognised classics far too much in the shade!–But, above all, such an over-loaded programme is thoroughly unsuitable to the jubilee-celebration of the Neue Zeitschrift, which on this occasion [ought] especially to emphasize its just claims and the progress in Art which it aims at and supports. On this account it is necessary to adhere to the limits of the programme originally agreed upon.
Finally, in case insurmountable hindrances should arise to prevent the carrying out of this same, I have no inclination to substitute for the Orclaestral-concert one for Chamber-music. But the word “Evening entertainment” must, as is self-evident, be entirely dispensed with. Our business is to raise, to educate the audience, not to amuse them; and if indeed, as Goethe very pertinently says, “deep and earnest thinkers are in a bad position as regards the public,” we will therefore not so much the less, but so much the more earnestly maintain this position. Meanwhile it is advisable to advertise the first evening’s musical performance by the expression Concert in the Gewandhaus, until we have quite decided whether it shall be a concert with orchestra, or only with chamber-music. [An orchestral concert took place in the theater, when compositions by Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Chopin were, nevertheless, included among the others.]
N.B.-Please not to communicate these remarks to any one except perhaps Brendel, as the very outspoken opinions herein about the Concert-programme must absolutely be kept secret.
399. To Dr. Eduard Hanslick
[The letter refers to Hanslick’s notice of Liszt’s book “Les Bohemiens et leur musique,” in the Vienna Presse (the old one).]
Experience having taught me to regard as a fate attached to my name the impossibility of publishing anything which does not instantly gather round it opinions as contrary as they are forcibly enunciated, I am, although quite accustomed to these little storms, very sensitive to the kindly judgment of those who, not letting themselves be influenced by this transitory impulse, desire to take into consideration what I have written, with sobriety and composure, just as you have done in your account of my book “Des Bohemiens.”-I am above all extremely obliged to you for having admitted that, if the requirements of my subject, and the opinion which after some twenty years of reflection I have formed of Bohemian music, compel me to attribute to a nomad people an art thoroughly imbued with a poetry which could only have been developed in a wandering nation, I have none the less endeavored to bring into prominence everything for which this art is indebted to the comprehension and taste which the Hungarians have always had for the music of Bohemia. I desire in no way to diminish the merit of the works, while at the same time I see the impossibility of considering as emanating from them the expression of sentiments which could not in their nature belong to them, however sympathetically they were associated therewith.–
Still, the point which I notice first, in consequence of the very violent and premature attacks of which I have been the object, is not the one which I regard as the most important in my volume. As a matter of fact it would signify little to me as artist to know whether this music is originally from India or Tartary. That which has appeared to me worthy the study of an artist is this music itself, its meaning, and the feelings it is destined to reproduce.–It is in trying clearly to account for these latter that I have only found it possible to connect them with people placed in the exceptional conditions of the Bohemians; and it is through asking myself what the poetry of this wandering life would be (a question so often raised), that I have become convinced that it must be identical with that which breathes in the Art of the Bohemians. This identity once made evident to my mind, I have naturally sought to make it felt by and evident to my readers. The better to succeed in this I have corroborated my opinion by grouping together as a sort of complement various suppositions about the question of these sources. But the scientific side of this question has never been, in my eyes, anything but very accessory; I should probably not have taken up the pen to discuss it. If I have raised it, that has been the consequence, not the aim of my work. Artist, and poet if you like, I am only interested in seeing and describing the poetical and psychological side of my thesis. I have sought in speech the power of depicting, with less fire and allurement possibly, but with more precision than music has done, some impressions which are not derived from science or polemics-which come from the heart and appeal to the imagination.
Poetical and descriptive prose being little used in Germany, I can easily conceive that, on the announcement of the title of my book, a set of lectures, rather than a kind of poem in prose, will be expected. I own that I would never have attempted to lecture on a subject the materials of which did not appear to me sufficient for this purpose. How small a number of people, moreover, would have been interested in learning the little which it would be allowable to affirm in this case? Whilst the expression of the innermost and deep feelings, whatever they be, from the moment that they have been powerful enough to inspire an art, is never entirely unattractive, even to the more extended circle which includes not alone musicians, but all those who feel and wish to understand music. Thanking you once more, Sir, for the perfect impartiality and clearness with which you have stated and criticised the compilation of my book, I beg you to accept this expression of my complete esteem and distinguished consideration.
September 20th, 1859
END OF LETTERS OF FRANZ LISZT, VOL. II.
INFO ABOUT THIS E-TEXT EDITION
This volume of “Letters of Franz Liszt” is the second volume of a 2-volume set. The letters were selected by La Mara, and translated into English by Constance Bache. The edition used was an original 1894 Charles Scribner edition (New York), printed in America. Each page was cut out of the book with an X-acto knife and fed into an Automatic Document Feeder Scanner to make this e- text; hence, the original book was, well, ruined in order to save 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 ASCII text, although, unlike in the first volume, they often add some useful emphasis to Liszt’s expression.
Almost everything occurring in brackets [ ] are original footnotes inserted into the text. The marking .–. appeared in the original volumes and indicates points where original material in the letters was lost or fragmented.
Also, special German characters like U with an umlaut, and French characters like a’s and e’s with various markings above them were ignored, replaced with their closet single-letter equivalents. U with an umlaut is U, A with a caret above it is A, and so on. Words altered include Gotze, Tonkunstler, Gluck, Handel and Bulow, among numerous others.
In addition, the English spellings of words like “honour,” “colour,” “humour,” “splendour,” “favour,” “endeavour” “labour,” “vigour,” “neighbour” “saviour,” “behaviour” and “theatre” were changed into American equivalents like “honor,” “color,” “humor,” “splendor,” “favor,” “endeavor” “labor,” “vigor,” “neighbor” “savior,” “behavior” and “theater.”
This electronic text was prepared by John Mamoun with help from numerous other proofreaders, including those associated with Charles Franks’ Distributed Proofreaders website. Thanks to M. Fong, N. Harris, S. Morrison, J. Roberts, R. Zimmerman, P. Rydzewski, D. McKee, R. Rowe, E. Beach, M. Beauchamp, K. Rieff, D. Maddock, T. Mills, B. Wyman, J. Hyllegaard, T. McDermott, M. Taylor, K. Peterson and several others for proof-reading.
This e-text is public domain, freely copyable and distributable for any non-commercial purpose, and may be included without royalty or permission on a mass media storage product, such as a cd-rom, that contains at least 50 public domain electronic texts, even if offered for commercial purposes. Any other commercial usage requires permission. The biographical sketch was prepared for this e-text and is also not copyright and is public domain.