23. 16 May 1971 [ES]

Dear Alan,

much obliged for your letter of 9th day, to which you've already had a brief but cheery acknowledgement. I return the essay herewith, amended in almost all respects exactly as you say. At least that's the intention; we aim to please; the editor is always right, and similar slogans; do let me know if there's any other point you'd like considered or reconsidered. We could undertake some retyping, if you thought if essential.

  One or two points, in the same order as yours:

Generally, I'm more than happy with the fee you suggest. I think the m/s wasn't quite as much as 15,000 (bearing in mind the right-hand margins and the space left for music examples). I made it 13,500. Now I've made it 12,000 by further deletions, most of which have the added (or subtracted) value of meeting your editorial suggestions. As to these,

   1. It is now as you say, except for exx. 31, 37, 41 and 42 because these are conceptual rather than textual, and for 8 and 26, because I have only photocopies of the relevant extracts which don't tell me the prevailing tempo-indications. These I suppose you're going to make me go back to the British Museum and find out; very well (moaning faintly) but that will take a week of so. Perhaps while I'm about it you'd be interested in a photocopy of that early Brahms (pseudonymous) duet work I mentioned to you? It might make an interesting broadcast performance.

    2-5. Agreed; done.

   7. Now you mention it, it bothers me too. I've rephrased, these and generally excised the key-structure passages. I feel there is a point but that it needs another assay to make it; so it's best omitted in this context.

    8. 'Deadly' has been used in my sense since 1483; but I can' deny that it's more often used in yours, so I've changed it. I de deny that it can be used of your editing; not deadly but lively is perhaps the mot juste you are looking for in that context. I've added a reference to an earlier example, which may help to bolster up a shaky case. According to my records, Schumann uses E flat minor as main key in three songs, two about death and one about total isolation; as subsidiary key in two songs both about dark storms, and thrice as a subsidiary tonal allusion, each time about death. Brahms does the same in his songwriting (cf Lied aus IwanSchwermut, middle section of Verrat) no doubt under the Schumann influence. Am I being to fanciful (as Gerald Abraham would say) if I hear this dark colouring in the third symphony or the Manfred overture? But I don't suppose you'll want all that in a footnote.

   9. I don't know that arrived at my view of Schumann's deterioration in the songs 'after many years' thought'. Besides, views thus arrived at are usually obviously stupid, to everyone else, that is. I'd advance the much more modest claim that I've known them all by heart, words and music, for thirty years, and have never for a moment thought of any reason for challenging Schumann's own view that his best work in that field was complete by 1840. My love for them all, including the obviously crazy and sick ones may not shine through the opaque texture of my prose; but if it did, it would sound too much like a charitable appeal on behalf of: severe mental disability. The evidence that the very late ones are in that category is that nobody wants to hear about them. Nobody sings them; nobody even buys them. Only a few equally crazed musicologists have ever heard of them. I think we have to distinguish, as I've tried to, between musical masterpieces and songs. The latter are riot solely musical, and can't sensibly be judged (I should have thought) solely by musical criteria as such. The words, and what happens to the words, are part of the art-work; and if Schumann's verbal competence deteriorated then the songs would deteriorate even though their purely musical quality remained unchanged. That's why, I think, there is a falling-off in quality; gradual from 1849 and steep from 1851.

   There seems to me to be plenty of evidence for this, which is generally accepted. I'm not very clear about how the presence of evidence in the songs can be outweighed by its absence elsewhere. But, bless you, anyone who likes can take a different view; and I'm sure that yours will be as sound and sympathetic as anyone's. If you don't like anything I say (and I've remodelled the text somewhat to meet your point) let me know and I'll try again. As I began 'by saying, we aim to please.

   Now your last two general points. First, I've provided some headings. But I'm not sure, on further reflection, whether they all have the same logical status - I mean that some are main headings, other more like side headings. However, I'm very content to leave their disposition to you.

   How I laughed when I ..aw your examples of cliche – 'It is hardly possible to exaggerate the impact... Critics have said that..' I relished those amusing parodies of the academic style. I can't tell you how stupefied – and mortified – I was to find them in my own text! However, they've now been weeded out, together with other infelicities. No doubt there are some left; but notably fewer, I think.        

   With best regards,

   Yours Eric