14. 19 November 1970 [AW]
Maybe I should come clean. I don't think that there was a 'falling-off'. Nor does this set me against the general consensus, merely against his biographers – a rather different proposition since some of them aren't all that musical. Whatever Gerald Abraham and Joan Chissell say, I can't bring myself to hear inferior Schumann in such late works as the Cello Concerto (1850), the Introduction and Allegro (1853), Manfred (1849) and the Fourth Symphony (rev.1851); on the contrary, I think they are all great Schumann. Even the Violin Concerto (1854) had distinguished support from Jelli d'Aranyi and Sir Adrian Moult (who, as you know, gave the first performance in 1938), and also from Tovey who wrote a spanking letter to The Times about it in September 1937, part of which we shall reproduce in the Symposium.
Faced with such masterworks, the 'falling-off' theory makes no sense to me. So much for the artistic side of the discussion. As for the medical, even if Slater and Meyer had not scotched the widely-held view that Schumann was mad, I should have had difficulty in accepting that fact since nothing in Schumann's music seems to support such a view. I suppose that (to refer back to an earlier conversation we once had) Slater and Meyer help me to rationalise something about Schumann's music I intuitively feel to be true: namely, his sanity.
What news of the Vatican?
All good wishes,
Yours sincerely, Alan