23 November 1991 (Housman, Roquette, Schumann duets, Shakespeare on TLS)

Dear Erik,

      Thanks for your lively and enlivening letter. My typewriter was an Olivetti, but it kept on writing 'trypewriter’ which was too close for comfort. It had to go. The Amstrad however is increasingly cooperative. I now even understand how its memory works, which is much more than I can say for my own,

      I 'm glad you like the Fragment of English Opera. I once tried to compose a suitably owlish English setting, but I fear it was rather too successful.

      Can't tell you much about Otto Roquette, 1824‑96, poet and novelist. According to one source, der beste seiner Romane ist das 'Buchstabierbuch der Leidenschaft', which sounds a bit elementary to me. But he used to be known and, it seems, admired, for lyrics and long narrative poems. 'Ghasel' is enclosed.

      Grand news about the recording. The 1841 orchestral version of Tragödie has just turned up in Sotheby's sales catalogue. As to Schumann duets ‑ wouldn't it be good to have the superb Er und Sie and Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär?

      It will be lovely to see you; but when?

      I'm immersed in work at the moment (still teaching Lieder ‑ at the Guildhall school ‑ where Alison and Isa kindly turn up to listen‑and revising the Wolf and Schumann books for their third editions, and also writing very peevishly about Shakespeare, as in the enclosed sample, due to be published in the TLS before long). It's no longer a question of keeping my head above water, more a matter of how near I can get to the surface. This is just a quick snort through the schnorkel.

      As you'll see from another enclosure, Bernard Levin is now converted to Italy as well as its Songbook.

      Love to all; thanks to Elio for his nice postcard. Here's one for him; too nice to write on, but he knows the message of affection and admiration, which goes also to you.

Best regards and wishes, as ever,