27 June 1993 (English song, Tosti)
nice to talk. Sorry I was so distrait when you telephoned. Enid was in the middle of one of her prodigious paroxysmal nose‑bleeds, which have since abated, but only after repeated cauterisation. The turning‑point came when the ear nose and throat specialist gripped my nostrils very tightly, explaining that this was where and how pressure ought to be applied in future emergencies. Enid seemed to get much brighter from that moment. I'm recovering slowly.
Well, perhaps there isn't all that much English song of the 19th century; at least there's little that appeals to me as a lieder fanatic. We didn't have the kind of tradition that permits an osmosis between words and music; and it's really what permeates the porous membrane in both directions that so pleases and intrigues me. There are occasional songs that I like, usually for sentimental reasons; for example from that well-known British composer Sir Paolo Tosti, whose name I saw the other day, eternised in gilt, on the display boards of the Royal Academy. He seems to have settled down well and felt very much at home, in Folkestone (did I tell you of Jeremy's theory that Schumann too had resided there, hence the Fünf Stücke im Volkston?).
And I like the rather Italianate style of Sullivan (who didn't, I swear, have a drop of English blood in his veins), in for example Orpheus with his Lute of which Schubert might not have been wholly ashamed. There's also some quite tolerable Somerwell, and Parry; and Elgar wrote what he himself called Seven Lieder, some of which seem to me rather marvellous (such as Shepherd's Song). But there's no help for it; you'd better look at Stephen Banfield's book on British Song. He's on the Grüner jury this year, at my suggestion; a contemporary of Jeremy's, he's now music prof. at Birmingham. Perhaps we can have a chat when you're next here?
I was delighted too to hear of your father's tribute from Fischer‑Dleskau, which must give Elio (to whom our fond regards) a great deal of well‑deserved satisfaction. It pleases me too for other reasons, for example in confirming for me that great art is international and indeed universal.
Take care, my dear Erik; love and best wishes to all.