i am going to detail the history of this work soon.. --Funper 21:59, 26 May 2007 (EDT)
To Breitkopf and Hartel in Leipzig.
[Without a date; Mars-April 1838.]
I thank you much, gentlemen, for the obliging letter that you have written me. Up to the present time I have had none but the most pleasant business relations with Mr. Hofmeister, who has the kindness to publish the greater part of my works in Germany. As I do not know very much of the laws which regulate literary and musical proprietorship in Saxony, I had spoken to him about the Beethoven Symphonies, of which I have undertaken the arrangement, or, more correctly speaking, the pianoforte score. To tell the truth, this work has, nevertheless, cost me some trouble; whether I am right or wrong, I think it sufficiently different from, not to say superior to, those of the same kind which have hitherto appeared. The recent publication of the same Symphonies, arranged by Mr. Kalkbrenner, makes me anxious that mine should not remain any longer in a portfolio. I intend also to finger them carefully, which, in addition to the indication of the different instruments (which is important in this kind of work), will most certainly make this edition much more complete. If, then, as I imagine, it is impossible for Mr. Hofmeister to publish them, I shall be very grateful if you will undertake it. The reputation of your house is European, and I perfectly remember having had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Raymond Hartel in Paris. It will be a pleasure to me to conclude this little business with you, at the rate of eight francs a page. Up to the present time I have only finished three Symphonies (that in A major), but I could promise to let you have the others successively, according as you might wish, or I could limit my work to the four most important Symphonies (if I may express my opinion), namely, the Pastoral, C minor, A major, and the Eroica. I think those are the ones which are most effective on the piano.
I start tomorrow for Vienna, where I expect to remain till the end of April. Please address to me to the care of Mr. Tobias Haslinger till the 25th of April, and after that to Mr. Ricordi, Milan, who has undertaken to forward me all my letters while I am in Italy. My compliments and affectionate thanks.
17. To Breitkopf and Hartel.
[This is the first of the Liszt letters extant in the archives of the firm.]
I am really grieved, gentlemen, at the trouble you have been good enough to take about these unlucky Symphonies, and I hardly know how to express my acknowledgments. As I have already had the honor of telling you, Mr. Mori had been previously engaged to publish these Symphonies, and, as the steps you have taken have not been crowned with success, I will keep to this first publisher, with whom I have every reason to be satisfied up to now.
You can then publish this work in two or three months from now. [Pianoforte scores of the C minor and Pastoral Symphonies of Beethoven.] Only it is essential that I should correct the last proof, so that the edition may be absolutely correct. I also wish to add the fingering to several passages, to make them easier for amateurs. Be so good, therefore, as to send me, through the Embassy (or by any other opportunity which is not too expensive), two proofs to Rome, where I shall be in about twelve days, and where I expect to remain till the middle of March.
I hope, gentlemen, that you will not have cause to regret the obliging advances that you have made to me in this matter, and for which I am sincerely grateful to you. If you will be so good as to add to the proofs of the Beethoven Symphonies such of the songs of Beethoven (or Weber) as you would like me to transcribe for piano solo, I will then give you a positive answer as to that little work, which I shall be delighted to do for you, but to which I cannot assent beforehand, not knowing of which songs you are the proprietors. If "Leyer und Schwert" was published by you, I will do that with pleasure. I think that these songs, or at any rate four or five of them, would be rather satisfactory for the piano.
Accept, gentlemen, the expression of my high esteem.
Florence, January 3rd, 1839
20. To Breitkopf and Hartel
[Milan, June, 1839]
About three weeks ago I gave to Mr. Ricordi (who was on his way to Rome) the proofs of the two Symphonies you addressed to me. I hope they have reached you by now. Forgive me for having kept them so long, and also for having corrected them with so much care. But, firstly, they did not reach me till about the 20th of February, and then I did not know how to send them to you direct, for the diligences in this happy country are so insecure. I am therefore of necessity (though very unwillingly) behindhand.
Allow me to ask you for a second proof (for it is of great consequence to me that the edition should be as correct as possible), and this time I will beg you to send me three proofs of each Symphony, so that I may forward one to Paris and the other to London. Probably there will not be any more corrections to make in this second proof, and in that case I will let you know in two words (without returning your proof), telling you at the same time the date of publication.
My intention being to visit Vienna, Munich, and perhaps Leipzig at the beginning of next year (before going to England in the month of April), I shall take advantage of this opportunity to let the Symphonies be heard at my concerts, so as to give them a certain publicity.
I have looked through the Lieder you have been good enough to send me. I shall certainly do the "Adelaide," however difficult it may seem to me to transcribe simply and elegantly. As regards the others, I am afraid I cannot find the necessary time. Moreover, that good Haslinger overwhelms me with Schubert. I have just sent him twenty-four more new songs ("Schwanengesang" and "Winterreise"), and for the moment I am rather tired with this work.
Would you be so kind as to send me, at the same time with the proofs of the Beethoven Symphonies, Mr. Mendelssohn's "Preludes and Fugues"? It is an extremely remarkable work, and it has been impossible to get it in Italy. I shall be greatly obliged if you will send it me.
When you see Mr. Schumann please remember me very kindly to him. I have received the "Fantaisie" which he has done me the honor to dedicate to me, and the "Kinderscenen." Don't you think you ought to publish a book of Studies by him? I should be extremely curious to make acquaintance with them. All his works interest me in a high degree. It would be difficult for me to say as much of many of the compositions of my respected colleagues, with some exceptions.
I beg to remain, Gentlemen,
Yours most sincerely,
Address the Symphonies to Mr. Ricordi, Florence. From the 15th of June till the 1st of September I shall be in the neighborhood of Lucca. Ricordi's address is the safest.
... 2. The complete series of the Beethoven Symphonies, of which you have as yet only published the "Pastorale" and the "C minor." (In the supposition that this publication will suit your house, I will beg you to make the necessary arrangements from now onwards with Mr. Haslinger; perhaps it will even be expedient that the Symphony in A (7th), which Haslinger published several years ago from the arrangement that I had made, should reappear in its proper place in the complete series of the symphonies.) ...
F. Liszt Weymar, January 14th, 1850
On the occasion of Schubert's opera I shall probably set to work on the arrangement of the symphony, of which, meanwhile, I hold the score.--Compliments and best regards to Madame Hartel, which I know you will be kind enough to convey to her.
Letters volume 2
13. To Breitkopf and Hartel
Dear Herr Doctor,
The four scores of the Beethoven Symphonies, of which you advised me in your friendly letter, reached me yesterday. My eyes are meanwhile revelling and delighting in all the glories of the splendid edition, and after Easter I shall set to work. Nothing shall be wanting on my part, in the way of goodwill and industry, to fulfil your commission to the best of my power. A pianoforte arrangement of these creations must, indeed, expect to remain a very poor and far-off approximation. How instil into the transitory hammers of the Piano breath and soul, resonance and power, fulness and inspiration, color and accent?--However I will, at least, endeavor to overcome the worst difficulties and to furnish the pianoforte-playing world with as faithful as possible an illustration of Beethoven's genius.
And I must ask you, dear Herr Doctor, in order that the statement on all the title pages--"critically revised edition"--may be complied with, to send me--together with your new edition of the scores of the "Pastoral," the C minor, and A major Symphonies--a copy of my own transcriptions of them. Probably I may alter, simplify, and correct passages--and add some fingerings. The more intimately acquainted one becomes with Beethoven, the more one clings to certain singularities and finds that even insignificant details are not without their value. Mendelssohn, at whose recommendation you formerly published my pianoforte scores of the "Pastoral" and C minor Symphonies, took great delight in these minutiae and niceties!--
With regard to the agreement about the A major Symphony I mean shortly to write to Carl Haslinger, and expect that he will be quite willing to meet my wish. [A pianoforte transcription of this Symphony by Liszt had been published by Haslinger.]
With grateful thanks, dear Herr Doctor, I remain yours in readiness and sincerity,
Rome, March 26th, 1863
P.S.--The four Symphonies shall be finished before the end of summer and sent to Leipzig. If you are satisfied with my work would you entrust the arrangement of the Overtures to me when I have finished the Symphonies--provided, of course, that you have not made any agreement with any one else?
19. To Breitkopf and Hartel.
Rome, August 28th, 1863
My Dear Sir,
The work that you were good enough to entrust to me is almost finished, and by the same post you will receive the Piano score of 8 Symphonies of Beethoven, whilst awaiting the 9th, which I propose to send you with the proofs of the preceding ones. Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 are bound in one volume; there is only the "Funeral March" from the "Eroica Symphony" wanting, which is published in the Beethoven-Album by Mechetti, Vienna. I shall require to see this arrangement again (which you will oblige me by sending with the next proofs), for probably I shall make numerous corrections and modifications in it, as I have done in the Symphonies in C minor, in A, and the "Pastoral," which were edited some twenty years ago. The copies of these are returned to you today with a great many alterations, errata and addenda, inasmuch as--in order to satisfy my own criticism--I have been obliged to apply to them the torture of red pencil and gum, and to submit them to a very considerable alteration.
Whilst initiating myself further in the genius of Beethoven, I trust I have also made some little progress in the manner of adapting his inspirations to the piano, as far as this instrument admits of it; and I have tried not to neglect to take into account the relative facility of execution while maintaining an exact fidelity to the original. Such as this arrangement of Beethoven's Symphonies actually is, the pupils of the first class in the Conservatoires will be able to play them off fairly well on reading them at sight, save and except that they will succeed better in them by working at them, which is always advisable. What study is deserving of more care and assiduity than that of these chefs d'oeuvre? The more one gives oneself to them the more one will profit by them, firstly in relation to the sense and aesthetic intelligence, and then also in relation to the technical skill and the attaining of perfection in virtuosity--of which one should only despise the bad use that is sometimes made.
By the title of Pianoforte score (which must be kept, and translated into German by Clavier-Partitur or Pianoforte- Partitur?) I wish to indicate my intention of associating the spirit of the performer with the orchestral effects, and to render apparent, in the narrow limits of the piano, sonorous sounds and different nuances. With this in view I have frequently noted down the names of the instruments: oboe, clarinet, kettle- drums, etc., as well as the contrasts of strings and wind instruments. It would certainly be highly ridiculous to pretend that these designations suffice to transplant the magic of the orchestra to the piano; nevertheless I don't consider them superfluous. Apart from some little use they have as instruction, pianists of some intelligence may make them a help in accentuating and grouping the subjects, bringing out the chief ones, keeping the secondary ones in the background, and--in a word--regulating themselves by the standard of the orchestra.
In order to be perfectly satisfied with regard to my work allow me, my dear sir, to beg you to let Mr. Ferdinand David and Monsieur Moscheles see it before it is printed. The minute familiarity they have acquired with the Symphonies of Beethoven will show them in a moment any errors, oversights, faults and misdeeds of which I, very unwittingly, may have been guilty. Will you please assure them that any information from them in these respects will be most valuable to me, and that I shall not fail to profit by it for the honor of your edition. In particular I should like to know from Mr. David whether the N.B. placed on page 78 of the manuscript (Finale of the 8th Symphony--"the execution of the principal figure, etc.") is authorised,--and I should be very grateful to him for any other particulars he is kind enough to give me. As to Mr. Moscheles, I hope he will not disapprove of my having followed his example in putting a profuse fingering for the greater ease of the mass of performers; but perhaps he would be so kind as to suggest a better fingering himself, and to let me know his observations upon such and such an artifice of "piano arrangement" of which he is a consummate master. There is only one point on which I would venture even to an act of rebellion--it is that of the pedals, a bass [base] passion of which I cannot correct myself, no matter how annoying the reproaches it may draw upon me!--["Even if one may presuppose," he writes on another occasion (27th August, 1861) to Breitkopf and Hartel, "a correct use of the pedal on the part of piano-players, I am nevertheless, through manifold unpleasant experiences to my ears, brought back to giving the most minute indications of it."]
If, as I venture to flatter myself, my arrangement of the Symphonies satisfies you, I should be tempted to propose to you, for next year, a similar work on the Quartets, those magnificent jewels in Beethoven's crown which the piano-playing public has not yet appropriated in a measure suitable to its musical culture.
But I really fear to exhaust your patience by giving you proofs of mine...consider therefore this project of the Quartets as not having been proposed if it seems to you inopportune, and pray accept, my dear sir, the expression of my very sincere and devoted sentiments.
(Monte Mario, Madonna del Rosario)
P.S.--As it has been impossible for me to hunt out here a copyist who will fulfil the conditions that may reasonably be exacted (the one whom I employed pretty much last year divides his time between the prison and the public-house!), I am compelled to send you the manuscript such as it is, with many apologies for its badly written appearance. To make a fair copy of it someone with plenty of experience is needed; and I can safely recommend you such an one in Mr. Carl Gotze ("Member or Vice-director of the theater chorus") at Weimar. He is accustomed of old to my writing, and would make the copy of the Symphonies with intelligence and care.
N.B.--A copy of the Orchestral Score of the Symphonies will be a great help to the work of the copyist of my manuscript, for exactness in nuances, division of parts and indication of the instruments.
In any case it will be necessary for me to revise the final proofs. .--.
Let me add, in conclusion, that I shall be glad to receive, with the proofs or even sooner, a copy of my "Etudes d'execution transcendante," and also those "d'apres Paganini" (Breitkopf and Hartel edition), which I have promised to give to an excellent pianist here, Mr. Sgambati, who is most capable of playing them well in public;--and, besides these, a copy of my "Ave Maria" (for chorus with Organ accompaniment) which is shortly to be performed here.
20. To Dr. Franz Brendel
This morning I sent off manuscripts and corrections to Hartel and Schuberth--and thus had to write the word Leipzig several times. It struck me as a reproach as regards yourself, and I mean forthwith to get rid of it. You shall not hear of me through others without having the trouble of reading my own bad handwriting yourself. I have not, however, anything very special to relate. The summer has passed quietly and I have not wandered abroad much; have, in fact, been pretty constantly sitting at my work. My abode continues to suit me more and more, so I intend to spend the winter here. You no doubt received with my last letter the photograph of the "Madonna del Rosario." Unfortunately I cannot send you a picture of the grand, truly sublime view that can be enjoyed from every window. So you must imagine it to embrace all Rome, the wondrous Canmpagna, and all the past and present glories of the district.
For some time past I have had no other news of you than your excellent articles on "artistic individuality," etc., in which, among many other right and fine observations, I was specially pleased with the axiom: "The artistic temperament, when genuine, corrects itself in consequence of the change of contrasts." May it prove so in my case;--this much is certain,--that in the tiresome business of self-correction few have to labor as I have, as the process of my mental development, if not checked, is at all events rendered peculiarly difficult by a variety of coincidences and contingencies. A clever man, some twenty years ago, made the not inapplicable remark to me: "You have in reality three individuals to deal with in yourself, and they all run one against the other; the sociable salon-individual, the virtuoso and the thoughtfully-creative composer. If you manage one of them properly, you may congratulate yourself."--Vedremo! [We shall see!]
Weitzmann's "Carnival in Rome towards the Middle of the Seventeenth Century," I read with great pleasure in the "Neue Zeitschrift." It is a pleasant, lively sketch, spiced with learning but without pedantic lead. Did a very remarkable "History of the Pianoforte," etc., by the same author, appear in your paper? Frau von Bulow wrote to me lately that Hans is busy with some essays for the N. Z. Probably he is writing a review of Weitzmann's "History of the Pianoforte," which would be most appropriate; if this is not the case I would advise you to get one of your staff to undertake the work and to give several quotations from it. The confounded pianoforte has its unmistakable significance, were it only because of the general abuse to which it is put!--In honor of Hartel's edition of Beethoven I have been occupying myself again with studies and experiments in pianoforte pieces. The arrangements of the 8 Beethoven Symphonies which I am about to send to Leipzig are, I trust, successful. They cost me more trouble, in attempts of various sorts, in corrections, eliminations and additions, than I had anticipated. As we grow old we deliberate more and are less readily satisfied...
To Schuberth I have sent the corrections of the 2-pianoforte arrangement of the "Faust Symphony," together with a pretty, tuneful arrangement of the "Preludes" by Herr Klauser (of New York), and was thus induced to play the hackneyed piece through again, to touch up the closing movement and give it new figuration. In the hands of a skilful player it will prove brilliantly effective.
But enough of all this pianoforte stuff! I feel forced to set to work again in blackening score-sheets--and first of all the "Christus Oratorio" shall be proceeded with.--Write and tell me whether Kahnt is publishing the two Psalms which Pastor Landmesser took him, and advise him to request Herr von Bulow to revise the last proofs. There is nothing more vexatious to me than careless editions, full of errors, such as Schuberth would like to have if one gave free reins to his good nature! From the Committee of the Association for the Completion of Cologne Cathedral I have received an invitation to the Festival arranged for the 14th and 15th October. The letter reminds me, in the most courteous terms, that in the year '42 I had the honor of being a member of the Council. I had not forgotten this peculiar distinction; but the worthy gentlemen seem absolutely not to have considered how my activity could now appropriately be of service, and they wisely guard against mentioning any of my ecclesiastical compositions, although it might have occurred to them that I could manage something in that species of music. However, the worthy Committee find the old story of the "period of my brilliancy," and the "bewitching strains I drew from the keys," etc., more voluble and convenient. Besides which some small sum would have to be forthcoming were I to agree in considering myself what the good folks would like to consider me. Fortunately the determination of my work does not lie in their hands, and on account of this very evident conviction I answered their communication most courteously, modestly referring to my present occupation in Rome, and enclosing an extract from one of the Hymns of St. Ambrosius, from the Liturgy of the "Three Holy Kings," an incident intimately connected with Cologne Cathedral. At the same time I feel satisfied that I have not shown any intention to give annoyance, and declared myself as perfectly content to fulfil my duties as an honorary member of the Council, in quietude, by composing a work specially for the Cathedral (which I shall not fail to do), but without laying the slightest claim to the sympathy--much less to the patronage--of the worthy gentlemen of Cologne.--I flatter myself that I am not in the bad graces of the Three Holy Kings, consequently do not need to trouble myself about the rest of the Cologne folk!
Now my Leipzig parcels can be despatched with an easy mind.
With heartiest greetings,
September 7th, 1863
Monte Mario (Madonna del Rosario)
35. To Breitkopf and Hartel
Dear Herr Doctor,
Together with the corrected proofs of the Pastoral and the C minor Symphonies (in which I found one or two errors) I sent you (from Weimar) my pianoforte arrangement of the 3rd instrumental movements of the 9th Symphony. After various endeavors one way and another, I became inevitably and distinctly convinced of the impossibility of making any pianoforte arrangement of the 4th movement for two hands, that could in any way be even approximately effective or satisfactory. I trust you will not bear me any ill-will for failing in this, and that you will consider my work with the Beethoven Symphonies as concluded with the 3rd movement of the 9th, for it was not a part of my task to provide a simple pianoforte score of this overwhelming 4th movement for the use of chorus directors. Arrangements of this kind have already been made, and I maintain that I am not able to furnish a better or a more satisfactory one for helpless pianofortes and pianists, and believe that there is no one nowadays who could manage it.
In my edition of the 9th Symphony for two pianos, prepared for Schott, the possibility was offered to me of reducing the most essential parts of the orchestra-polyphony to ten fingers, and of handing over the chorus part to the second piano. But to screw both parts, the instrumental and vocal, into two hands cannot be done either "a peu pres or a beaucoup pres!"
In case other proofs of the remaining Beethoven Symphonies are ready, you might send me them to Weimar before Tuesday, 20th September. I should be glad at the same time to receive the splendid 6 Mottets of Bach in eight-voice parts (among which is "Sing unto the Lord a new song"). I am all the more in need of reading such works, as I am at present unable to hear a performance of them.
Next week I shall again spend a few days in Weimar (or Wilhelmsthal); thence I go to pay my mother a visit in Paris, and by 18th October, at latest, I shall be back in Rome.
Yours respectfully and sincerely,
Schloss Lowenberg, September 14th, 1864
I requested Herr Kahnt to return to you with my best thanks the copy of the Symphonic Poems which was kindly forwarded to me in Carlsruhe.
36. To Breitkopf and Hartel
Dear Herr Stadtrath, [Town Councillor]
In compliance with the wish you so kindly express, I will again make an attempt to "adapt" the 4th movement of the 9th Symphony to the piano, and soon after my return to Rome will set to work upon the required tentative. Let us hope that the variation of the proverb: "Tant va la cruche a l'eau qu'a la fin...elle s'emplit"--may prove true. [So often goes the pitcher to the water that at last it is filled.]
While talking of various readings allow me to draw your attention to an exceptionally valuable collection. A very carefully and well-trained musician with whom I have been acquainted for many years past--Herr Franz Kroll (in Berlin)--has, with industrious and unceasing perseverance, been collecting, copying and arranging for publication the noteworthy various readings of Bach's manuscripts of the "Wohltemperiertes Clavier." [The well- tempered Piano] Last week he showed me several of them, and I became convinced of the substantial interest of the collection and encouraged friend Kroll to send you a full account of them. In now enclosing his letter to you--written at my instigation--I take upon myself, with pleasure and the fullest conviction, the musical duty of advocating the publication of these various Bach readings, and of heartily recommending Kroll's work as an essentially useful, complementary addition to your admirable edition of the "Bach-Gesellschaft" [The Bach Society].
Pray accept, dear Herr Stadtrath, the assurance of my sincere esteem and devotion.
Wilhelmsthal, October 1st, 1864
38. To Dr. Franz Brendel
While awaiting from you definite word about the next Tonkunstler- Versammlung in Dessau, let me, meanwhile, thank you for your last communication. The main interest of the musical performances is, of course, on this occasion centred in Riedel and his Verein. In the programme-sketch I notice my Psalm 137 at the very beginning. What lady takes the solo?--mind and soul are indispensable in it.
Bronsart wrote to me at the beginning of March that he entertained the idea of a concert-tour to the Russian provinces on the Baltic. I should be glad to hear that the Euterpe squabble and quarrel in connection with the T.K.V. in Dessau were at an end, and that Bronsart was to undertake the conductorship.
As a supplement to this I send you herewith the programme of the concert held in the hall of the Capitol, where for some years past no special festivities have been given, and probably never anything of this kind before. For the first time the different orchestras in Rome (the Sistine, St. Peter's, Lateran and Liberian) all united to give a performance which upon the whole may be said to have been as successful as it was well received.
The concert was proposed to the Holy Father, and approved of by him. Owing to the exceptional character of the undertaking, which, like that of last year, was made to fit in with the plan of the detailed arrangements--(some ladies belonging to the aristocracy, and commissionaires distributed the tickets which were sold at a minimum, no advertising, etc.), I determined to give my co-operation. I played the "Cantique" (the last number of the "Harmonies poetiques et religieuses" published by Kistner), and, as there was no end to the applause, I added my transcription of Rossini's "Charite" (published by Schott). Everybody in Rome with any claim to culture was present, and the hall was more than full.
With friendliest greetings, your sincerely devoted
April 3rd, 1865
P.S.--Please get Kahnt to inquire of Hartel as soon as possible, how far the printing of my arrangement of the Beethoven Symphonies has progressed, and whether I may rely upon his sending--during Easter week as already settled--the orchestral parts (autographed) of several of my Symphonic Poems,--more especially of the Dante Symphony? It is possible that the Dante Symphony may be performed here towards the end of April. But you shall have further news of me before that.
Bote and Bock will shortly publish a very simple Hymn of mine (for pianoforte) entitled "The Pope's Hymn."
40. To Breitkopf and Hartel
Dear Herr Doctor,
My old musical weaknesses have not left me! The weakest and worst thing about them is perhaps that I never cease composing; but such wondrous things go wandering about in my head that I cannot help putting them down on paper. And I have wanted to hear something about the fate of the manuscripts I sent you for printing. Have the pianoforte scores of the Beethoven Symphonies been published? How has the printing of the Concerto for 2 pianos (in E minor) [Concerto pathetique] progressed? Would you kindly let me have a few copies soon?
With regard to the autographed orchestral parts of my "Symphonic Poems," I should be glad if they could be out by the end of July. Probably at the beginning of August I go to Pest, where several of my compositions (more especially the "Dante Symphony") are to be performed in connection with the festivities at the Conservatoire. If the parts should be ready, please, dear Herr Doctor, forward them to me to Pest. At present I do not require them here; but should the "Preludes" be ready you would greatly oblige me by sending all the orchestral parts, with four copies of the quartet, if possible by the beginning of next month, to Dr. R. Pohl (571, Hirschgasse, Baden-Baden). I have been asked for the loan of them for some festival in Baden conducted by Monsieur Reyer.
Pray kindly excuse all the trouble I am giving you, and receive the expression of my most sincere esteem.
The Vatican, May 27th, 1865