10 May 1993 (Memory-lapses, birthday, modern Lied, Bogarde, Hamnet-Hamlet)

Dear Erik,

      Many thanks for your letter and enclosure, which have just arrived. I loved the disc; so much that's entirely original as well as first‑rate. I think that you and Graham are the born communicators and proselytisers of our time (you even helped to convert Bernard Levin, which is quite an achievement); and that gives me a strong sense of grandfatherly and fatherly (respectively, and respectfully) benevolence and gratification. I'm glad that the lied is in, and under, such good hands. I've been waiting, in vain, for a copy of my Schumann book re‑issue so that I can have something (but alas nothing original) to send you in return. I hope I remembered to send you a copy of the parallel Wolf edition; but I find these little things slipping, as my grandfather said in great mortification at being unable instantly to recall the whole of Paradise Lost. I've just lost my diary, too, which is a major disaster; I can't even verify my own memory‑lapses.

      I'm getting over our birthday, gradually. I was moaning to Jeremy on the telephone about how I am, like Hamlet, most dreadfully attended. I can't find anyone to perform simple offices for me. Anyhow, when Jeremy confessed that he didn't quite know how old I now am I was able to give him the hint that I lacked factors. That shows, said he, that I must be in my prime.

      I loved the observations on being a professor of vocal chamber music. Perhaps it's fate's way of telling you that you've been chosen as the coming master of a new genre of composition, like Adrian Leverkühn (mutatis mutandis, absit omen, et coetera). If the comparison is more with Kafka, I think the best advice would be to get in through that door before they close it. Meanwhile it's altogether marvellous to hear that you're writing on the modern lied (structured I suppose by composers within national‑linguistic groupings). I'm agog to know what you think of everyone, including Warlock, C.W. Orr (a late dear friend of mine, worth your attention), Duparc, Musorgski and so forth. I'm sure you have great talent for writing too. I admired (and preened a bit at) the Schumann CD introduction; another sense in which the lied is in good hands.

      I've read some of the Bogarde books, but the autobiographical rather than the novels. The prose seems a bit precious to me, like his Death in Venice performance and that film generally. His name is of Dutch derivation, I gather; and perhaps the same applies to Humphrey Bogart. Anyhow, the pronunciation is analogous, as an English trochee.

      I've been having great disputes about prounciation. Nobody seems to notice that Shakespeare's son (1585‑96) was actually named Hamlet, with rather far‑reaching consequences; but I'm working on it, with further prospect.

      And I'm hoping to see you, of course, at the Grüner or earlier.

      Yes, we are fne, thanks. Which reminds me far no reason of the cable sent by the film magazine, in pursuit of a reader's enquiry, that read 'how old Gary Grant?' to which he replied 'Old Gary Grant OK, how you?

      Best to all, as ever; belated but most affectionate birthday greetings and wishes,

                        Yours Eric