10 January 1991 (Wolf and Moore, letter-writing, Rossini and religious music, Tosti)


Dear Erik,

    thanks for your Christmas letter. It's good to hear you're so active, and in such good causes too. Wolf and Moore, a great combination. I think with especial delight of their Geister am Mummelsee and the march in among so much else. Gerald and I always got on rather well. He said that was because both our wives are called Enid. We each worked hard at trying to achieve our modus vivenid. I learnt from him that all polite letters should be answered as soon as possible, preferably by return of post and in one's own hand. A counsel of perfection: but than he was a perfectionist, as we can hear. I wish I'd kept his autograph letters for the archives, as I did those of Maurice Brown (a great Schubertian) and Charles Orr (good song-writer). I've handed those collections over to Albi Rosenthal and to British Library respectively. All I have now are my Wolf, Schumann and Battaglia holdings.

      I'm glad to hear you've been concert-giving as well as -going. As to Rossini, I dote on the Stabat Mater, which together with Schubert Masses (esp. in G) form the only religious music I can stand, let alone love. I heard Elgar's The Kingdom recently, conducted by a dear friend, and I wished it had been a symphony, or otherwise wordless (which reminds me - have you set any Christian Morgenstern? he stands at the edge of language sprachlosestest like Lucretius at the edge of the universe, poised to tune outward an exploratory spear). And that amusing talk about Tosti (tonica-dominante) took me to my own very remote days as an accompanist, in Cyprus of all places, playing such masterpieces as


as I recall it, no doubt very imperfectly. Old men forget (Shakespeare), as I can confirm: but I still seem to have near total recall for things I really care about. Perhaps it's some malfunction of the normal healthy forgetting mechanism?

    I seem to have let myself in for a rather heavy schedule this year, including some preliminary work for the formation of a U.K. Schubert Society, under the chairmanship of John Reed, and some amendment of the Wolf and Schumann book for a Faber paperback third edition.

      Meanwhile Shakespeare continues to absorb much of my failing energies: and Brahms languishes reproachfully. I lack the motive power to describe his motif power. But the older I get the more convinced I am that nicht Bessres ist denn dass der Mensch fröhlich sei in seiner Arbeit: denn das ist sein Teil.

      It will be good to see you, here and/or in Ischia: and I'm much looking forward to that.

      Warmest good wishes to you and all, as ever,

      Yours, Eric