24. 30 August 1970 (RE to above; Schumann and Rossini)

30th August 1970


Dear Andrew,

   thank you for your note. I liked the thought of the scene in the Opera library, thus:‑


1er employe (ëtonne)           Qu'est-ce que c'est que cela?

2eme   "                              Comment??

1er        "  (ton de reproche) Ce que vous avez sur votre pupitre ne figure pas dans le 


2eme                                   Ah! Bah! Histoire de jouer lo deuxieme violon.

1er                                        C’est Verdi?

2eme                                   Ma foi, c' est assez verdi; ca prend de l'age, vous savez.

1er                                       Il faut envoyer ça tout de suite a M. Porteur, conformement

                                            instructions. Ce sont ses violons d'Ingres, etc etc

Note; a glossary is separately available on request.


You seem to have some special insights into French libraries and scholarship; witness that dazzling piece on the Tales of Hoffmann, I heard from John Thomson this morning; though not himself in the easiest of circumstances, he finds occasion to wonder whether you've finished your book yet. I hope you're not just touched but galvanised by that solicitude.

   We saw you on television the other evening. My children were very impressed. There was some slight inconsequential feeling that it would have been even better had you remained entirely still (a remark freely adapted – that affinity again – from the original French of Flaubert). But all agreed that 'twas admirably done.

   The Rossini point duly noted; and Schumann did hear some Rossini – even went so far, I think, as to call him the Swan of Pesaro, of all unlikely birds. But he wasn't very impressed by the operas – the performance of which in the 1830s is instanced as the kind of low state into which the German theatre had sunk – the dramatic equivalent of Herz and Hünten on the keyboard.

   I sent your piece on the Flute to Bob Moberly who (not entirely to my surprise) found himself much in agreement with your views on Adrian Mitchell's translation.

   Looking forward to the September MT – and not only because it will contain Prof. Parrot 's solution of the Enigma —

   yours ever