10. 24 September 1972 (Mendelssohn; - and Chopin; Shakespeare Sonnets; Wolf-related topics)

Dear Maurice,

how nice, as ever, to hear from you. I've seldom heard anything more daunting, in its way, than your description of the Schubert Grove article, and in particular the list of works. The sheerly mountainous nature of that task must overhang the mind like some propitious Alp. I think it qualifies you for canonisation, as St. Maurice of Marlborough. Wasn't there something about salvation through Works? Another mammoth chore, which I find peculiarly irksome, is the bibliography – especially now that Stanley is demanding (very properly, of course) pagenumbers for all periodical articles. Actually having to read and check one's own bibliographical references is surely going a bit too far? It's possibly even rather bad form, like laughing at one's own jokes!

     Well, I shan't offer to convert you to Mendelssohn. But I've always rather liked some of the songs, and a few other works. Heimkehr aus der Fremde might be revived now and then. I'm sure I'd enjoy it more than those Haydn operas I dutifully go and sit through at Camden. It so happens that I am now the only person in the world to have read through Mendelssohn's letters. As a result, I claim to be an authority. My only actual qualification is stamina; and there doesn't seem to be much competition: I've just been reviewing: a Mendelssohn catalogue issued by the Bodleian, one item of which may interest you. Plate no 30 – MS. M. Deneke Mendelssohn b.2, fol.52. F. Chopin: Ballade in F minor, op. 52.

     The letter-press reads — “The F minor Ballade, one of Chopin's finest works, was composed in 1842, but the autograph was considered lost until its recent discovery in Cecile's album, which Felix began for her Christmas resent, 1844. Unfortunately only four pages are present, containing about half the work (barsl­136). The album also contains an autograph fair copy of the same composer's Mazurka in A flat, op .59 no. 2, specially written out for Cecile on 3 October 1845. Mendelssohn had first met Chopin in Berlin in 1828, and their friendship continued for the rest of Felix's life”.

      I expect you've already got those in the new catalogue (rather tendentiously reviewed by Gerald Abraham, I thought) but perhaps there are some new details there.

     Of course you' re right about the Grove Wolf; the ghost of FW is much in evidence, gently chiding. An affable familiar ghost, in fact, though I wish I could say it nightly gulls me with intelligence. (Isn't it clear to you, incidentally, though it seems very far from clear to Dr. Rowse, that the poet thus referred to in the sonnets is George Chapman?) I don't know how it goes with your Hedley—Chopin; but I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion that there's not a lot to be said for putting new patches on old garments. I feel that the jut and sensible thing to do is to add only the new material which first appeared in FW 2nd edition, almost entirely about the Melanie Köchert affair, and leave it at that, of course with the necessary updating of the bibliography and to a much lesser extent the list of works.    

     It’s a very fortunate thing, isn't it, that this kind of work is its own reward? For otherwise there'd be no reward at all.

     Do you feel that one ought to arrange Wolf's works alphabetically and not chronologically? The thought fills me with dismay.

     I trust John Reed has sent you a copy of his book. It reads well, I think, and interestingly. And might you be interested in Norman del Mar vol. III on Strauss which has recently appeared? It makes a special feature of theLieder.

     Please lot me know when you're next in town; and I'd be particularly grateful to be kept posted on any developments there may be on the question of a revised Deutsch catalogue.

Kindest regards

yours ever