Ferruccio Busoni wrote more than 800 letters to his wife, Gerda. The comprehensive selection from them translated here was published in Switzerland in 1935. The series begins at 1895, since the earlier letters were all of a private character.
The start and finish of the letters have usually been omitted and the method of dating has been standardized. Any other omissions (mostly of personal matters) are marked by three dots.
Occasional footnotes have been added, and in the index short descriptions are given of some of the less well-known people mentioned in the text. References to Busoni's own compositions and writings are collected in the index under his name.
The letters are addressed to Berlin unless otherwise specified. R. L.
Moscow, 27 January 1895.
As all the other hotels are over-full on account of a Congress, I am living in a new and small hôtel garni, where I have a small entrance hall, a small salon, and a small bedroom, everything in miniature, but quite nice. My windows, which are at the back of the house, overlook the beautiful church with the five golden domes. To-day, the combination of sun, hoar-frost, snow, and lustre of gold is most unusual, almost fairylike.
Yesterday evening had a magical beauty too (there was a full moon) especially by the town hall and the Kremlin. Truly an heroic romanticism reigns here-even the " Symbolists " could not wish for anything better. The feeling I had as I wandered through the town was like drifting on a lake; I felt such a stranger, without foothold anywhere. I was so conscious, too, of being unable to make any communication with words. Even in a case of necessity! .
My hotel is close to the School of Music. The new house is to be built on the site of the former School of Music; so the Institute has taken rooms here temporarily.
I made my call on Safonoff, who was having a rehearsal. He received me in the most affectionate manner, kissed me and bade me most heartily welcome.
The journey was miserable. We almost stuck in the snow as I feared, but still all went well in the end.
Some sad news. Lesko [Busoni's Newfoundland dog] had a stroke and died four weeks ago! Quite quietly. They thought he was asleep, called him, he didn't answer, shook him, he did not stir - he was dead.
Papst seems to have had a tremendous affection for him, and cared for him well. They say he cried at his death. . .
I miss you very much and want to share the beautiful impressions with you. I think of you always and love and admire you continually, as you are, so simple and right.
They only speak Russian in my hotel. Altogether what a difference here compared with Petersburg!
MILAN, 5 December 1895.
This feeling of being known and yet a stranger, which I encounter in Italy, and this character of the country and the people which I find partly attractive and partly repulsive, is so strange that it is quite indescribable.
The journey was very tiring; we only reached the Italian frontier after 24 hours.
The route was monotonous, and there were only two hours of beautiful scenery in the Tyrol. It is a remarkable sensation, travelling through a narrow valley, dark with shadows. It all looks so cold, lonely and comfortless in the valley; while a snow peak, standing up behind another mountain, looks quite warm and yellow in the sunshine. It makes one think that everything must be beautiful and pleasant on that peak, compared with the place where one is oneself. At night, too, with moonlight and slight fog, it was remarkably beautiful.
I had to stop three hours in Verona. It was midnight. A guide took me to a fourth-class Italian inn. I had bad roast meat and grand wine. Cattle-dealers from the neighbourhood came in, types in blue cycling capes lined with red, with "Calabreser" hats. It was like the second act from Carmen-without Carmen-and not very comfortable.
In spite of the late hour and fatigue and fog, I went through the town with the guide. It has a Roman amphitheatre, something like the Colosseum, which is very imposing; (it holds seventy thousand people). The houses, the tombs of Romeo and Juliet, all the best Renaissance style.
The Board of the society for which I am playing is very highly esteemed. The Directors are very conscientious (so they say), and permit no transcriptions in their programme. I was obliged, therefore, to withdraw the Tannhäuser Overture. But when I said that the Bach organ fugue was also a transcription they said it would be better not to mention that in the programme
What do you think of all this, dear wife?!!
One seems to avoid ordinary expressions here altogether. I was not a little astonished when I saw put up on the closet door in my hotel: "Jardin " - A garden where only cactus bloom!... It is strange what a childish pleasure it gives me to speak Italian; to be a foreigner and yet not one.
MILAN, 7 December 1895.
A thousand thanks for your dear letters, they are a comfort to me in the dejected mood in which I drag myself round here in spite of my efforts to overcome it.
I sit in the hotel at a miserable upright piano, with a bad cigar in my mouth, in an unheated room. The cool, almost hostile-at least mistrustful-way in which they have received me here, has disappointed me very much. It took the whole strength of my ability and will-power to win the public yesterday evening. I succeeded in the end, and to-day the papers, with one accord, are full of enthusiasm. I believe that the Società del Quartetto feared I might be the cause of making them look ridiculous. You will get an idea of the efficiency of the orchestra and the conductor if I say that, compared with them, the Gewandhaus in Reinecke's time would pass as an ideal of perfection and importance. The conditions are hopeless at present. Just to raise the country to the level of attainment in knowledge and belief reached long ago by Germany, would be an immense piece of work. And by the time this was achieved the other countries would again be ahead.
From a literary standpoint things do not look any better; with the exception of the philosophical dramas of Bovio (a Tolstoi without the Russian's ease and clarity) nothing of importance has appeared in ten years.
I shall get away and thank God I shall soon be with you again.
PARMA, 9 December 1895.
The little town of Parma (home of the well-known Parmesan cheese, as well as that of the painter Correggio; Paganini's tomb is here too) is genuinely Italian, which Milan is not, and it has pleased me best. Here one sees abbés, asses and other features of local colour in Italy.
The wine is unrivalled, the population ignorant, the place old and unprogressive. The audience was enthusiastic, unprejudiced, uncritical and unselfconscious, different from Milan, where they are much more rigid in their ideas than true Germanic people ever could be.
Do you know that Paganini's son still lives here ? I will tell you more when we meet... I feel very far from you and deplore not having you with me. We must come to Italy as "tourists" and enjoy the old things, the food and the wine. Everything else is worthless.
And even that, without you, is only worth half as much.
CHRISTIANIA, 9 October 1896.
In Copenhagen, with a heavy heart, I was obliged to make up my mind to an immediate continuation of the journey. I did it with a heavy heart, because the weather in Copenhagen was brilliant, like late summer; we have had nothing like it for months! I might have been setting out on a holiday in the spring, as far as weather was concerned.
The stretch between Copenhagen and Helsingborg I really enjoyed ; the landscape (especially between Hilleröd and Heisingör) is glorious.
What trees! And what autumn colours!
At Helsingör we quite overlooked the fantastic Kronborg castle in best Renaissance style during our unfortunate journey on the ice!
I was obliged to take a sleeping berth, the last night, in order not to arrive in pieces. (These pieces I should not ha'e been able to play)
I see there is an exhibition here by Walter Crane advertised in the "Kunstforeningen." Of course I shall go in the afternoon.
Nansen, Nansen, and Nansen!
Na'n seh'n Se mal...
I rejoice like a child at the thought of the Tauenzien-str. [Number 10; Busoni's flat in Berlin at that time].
Tschi, tschi moi! . . . Have read that a certain Fernicio Bussoni is going to play here! Who is that?
GÖTTINGEN, 6 November 1896.
To be in Göttingen even for one evening is annihilating! Arriving in the evening, there was only a choice between the theatre and the Rathskeller "where the town band played."
In order to go somewhere I went to the theatre and remained until the end of the last act but one. In the streets it was as still as death, closed shops, closed windows, bolted doors. Not a soul to be seen.
Half an hour later the people came out of the theatre. At first in groups, of 3, of 4, in couples; they soon passed. Then the musicians with their wrapped-up instruments ; last of all two firemen. Then one or two more, then another, then it was all as quiet as a mouse.
Five minutes later an old woman came out of a gateway and smilingly enticed her dog to come in; shut the door. Renewed stillness.
Now it was all over.
Out of humour I went back to my bad hotel, drank a glass of wine, and now I am writing to you.
The journey from Hanover was beautiful, the weather wonderful, and the landscape glowing with the most magnificent combinations of autumn colours. The sun was setting
The town of Göttingen (so-called town of the Muses) numbers 24,000 inhabitants; it is quite the smallest town in which I have played during recent years. In the past I could have collected a sackful of such reminiscences. My tour in the Tyrol (when I was from 12-13 years old) still remains in my memory, and during that tour a town like Göttingen would have been a culminating point.
My room is so cold I scarcely dare to go out...
VIENNA, 3 December 1896.
Here is a pretty state of things! Grieg ill, and the viola player in the quartet ill too ! As the Bohemian Quartet cancelled its engagement once on this account, two trios will be played to-morrow (if Nedbal cannot play) and I shall then play a solo number (Brahms). Hanslick sat at the rehearsal to-day like an Egyptian divinity (he slept once or twice too), was very stiff, ceremonious, but charmed with me. (The comparison with Rubinstein was brought in once more.)
Vienna in sunny weather is always beautiful!
Rehearsed trios yesterday, idem to-day, practise regularly; am very tired.
Think of you every moment. Frau Grieg spoke very beautifully about you yesterday.
VIENNA, 4 December 1896.
Your dear lines have done me so much good. A thousand thanks for them ! I have just come back from the concert. Nedbal was well, so we only had Tschaikowsky. Hanslick also came to the concert. Great success ! The hall was so full people were sitting on the platform. Great applause after the piano variations in the middle of the piece .
AACHEN, 9 December 1896.
I read what Hanslick writes about me in the "Presse" to-day, "Busoni, a magnificent, delightful pianist, the only one who reminds one entirely of Rubinstein." It has given me much pleasure. .
I am living in an hotel which is Empire" through and through" but very fine. All the furniture is genuine "romanesque", made out of red wood with brass ornamentations; the table with marble top and claw feet. The candlesticks are bronze like doric columns, each armchair like a little throne.
Two very beautiful courtyards, with cement pavement, surrounded by columns and arches, give an air of nobility. The concert hall wonderfully beautiful. The whole arrangement of the concerts here is "strictly according to Gürzernich"...
CREFELD, 12 December 1896.
There is a concert here in an hour. Yesterday evening out of desperation I played-skittles I There was nothing else to do.
VIENNA, 20 December 1896.
I was able to lie down until 8 o'clock, then I slept again,sitting up, until 12.
On the way I only got a ham roll! In the evening I was feverish, had a headache. My number came at the end of the programme and I -was obliged to wait in the artists' room for it until 9.30. At last it was my turn to play. (?) The success was enormous. They say I, played exceptionally well. Then supper with Brahms, Leschetizky, Epstein, Door, and the conductor Fuchs...
Spoke to Richter to-day... In the afternoon a reception at Gutmann's. Was obliged to play. Mid-day concert (philh) with Gabrilowitsch (he played excellently).
It appears that I am "the fashion" here. But in Vienna that only lasts until the next sensation. To-morrow, visitors again and invitations.
I could scarcely think of getting into a railway carriage again to-day anyhow... I am looking forward tremendously to being at home.
VERVIERS, I February 1897.
The rehearsal took place directly after my arrival. I was done up from the 8 hours' travelling, the early rising, and the lack of food during the whole journey. Added to which I played before a full house-the solos too.
The next evening (concert) I was quite fresh again. The Wanderer-Fantasy went very well; the success was quite extraordinary, even clamorous. One finds there are always a few important people wherever one goes. The excellent Herr von Dameck (formerly in the Petri quartet-we met him in Berlin at the Auer-Tschaikowsky concert) lives in Elberfeld. A man of extraordinarily clear understanding and fine irony, cultured, and a philosopher of the first order. Then the eldest son of Herr von Hase was there, the future head of Breitkopf and Härtel, a perfect replica of his father... The Ibachs live in the neighbouring town of Barmen (it runs into Elberfeld row) and they sent me a big concert grand to the hotel and invited me there.
There was snow, so I was obliged to stop in Elberfeld the whole Sunday unfortunately. One of the Directors gave a big party .
Shall meet to-day, here in Verviers, Prof. Seisz from Cologne, who is coming for a few days' recreation. A fine, friendly man. Mengelberg's teacher... I shall be with you again soon, at which I rejoice like a child... In Elberfeld I got ioo mk. more than I expected! Always onwards, always cheerful, etc.
LIÈGE, 24 February 1897.
I have a really pleasant impression of my tour. Compared with what I expected Liege is not like the Netherlands, but is more the type of the towns in north Italy. On the whole one is carried back about 25 years. Sometimes I thought I was in Trieste, sometimes in a town in the South Tyrol. The former can be traced in the look of the theatre and the cafés, and the latter in the appearance of the churches which are very beautiful and interesting. Hills and fortresses surrounding it give charm to the town. The streets are very narrow. It pleased me at first to hear French spoken everywhere... One gets some picturesque impressions here. In the corner of an old wall I saw a young Italian woman sitting; she was selling chestnuts by the light of a dim lamp. That made a pretty picture. The church of St. Jacques is splendid. Chiefly Gothic, the back Norman, and on one side an extremely elegant Renaissance porch. This is not disturbing because it is all genuine.
A nice maidservant stopped me "Pardon m'sieur, est-ce que ce n'est pas après vot'e p'tit chien que vous cherchez? Parceque il-y-a là un p'tit chien perdu." That is how the p'tite chatte spoke.
We stopped two hours in Cologne. But unfortunately from 9.30 till 11.30. I only saw the Cathedral in silhouette; Cologne has the narrowest streets I know and the Cathedral looks like Gulliver in Lilliput. I shall have time, on the way back, to study this Bach-like composition in architecture... The journey from Cologne to Liege (in a Paris train) was unbelievable. What dreadful carriages! What noisy conductors! What bad discipline! They raced to and fro, gave the signal for departure two or three times, jumped into the carriage five times. -" Have you any luggage? Are you going to Paris? Is it you, sir, that's going to Liege?" But, worst of all, these old carriages made fifty years ago!!! I didn't arrive until nearly two o'clock and was quite done up...
(Addressed to Thale)
BERLIN, 11 July 1897.
I had a remarkable experience last night. I sat down about iz o'clock to write an overture and continued writing until morning. I began and finished it without a break. Of course nothing is perfect, and the piece will have to be revised. As it is, it is not bad, very flowing, and almost Mozartian in style.
This achievement has given me pleasure, and you, too, I know, will be happy about it.
(Addressed to Thale)
BERLIN, 19 July 1897.
To-day the sun came out at ii o'clock!!! I could not bear to be in the house and went out into the sunshine. This, together with your cheerful letters, gave me a happy day. After a miserable week of rain-sunshine ! It was like a present of which I hope you, in the Harz, have had your share...
I have been thinking about my overture the whole week, and to-morrow I hope to have finished the sketch...
Your lines have cheered me very much-no melancholy kikili-putschinolli
Old Thayer [He had been a fatherly friend to the little Busoni] (Beethoven's biographer) is dead.
WIESBADEN, 25 October 1897.
The weather is glorious. Everyone goes about without an overcoat. One meets friends everywhere... Max Reger, the comedian Rosé, Mannstädt and, to my great surprise, amico Stolz, are here. Happily he is in better circumstances now as director of the chorus and conductor at the Imperial Opera House. It was pleasant to meet such a true friend. His friendship, I believe, is indestructible and unchangeable; but it is well known one can be deceived.
I rejoice at the thought of seeing you the day after to-morrow. I have wished a hundred times that you were here. I shall arrive in Eislaben probably before mid-day.
Was very industrious. Everything is going well...
LONDON, 31 October 1897.
When I arrived after a very good journey, during which I slept almost all the 18 hours in the most varied positions, the morning was foggy which is not unusual. I was feeling fresh, happy and invigorated; with a certain feeling of optimism, ready to take in fresh impressions and to see the favourable side of things. The sun was red and without rays; here and there, in the landscape the tops of the trees stood out quite clear and sharp, and the trunks disappeared in a kind of whipped cream, so that it looked like a Chinese picture .
I have seldom been on such a calm sea, one could have played billiards on the boat; and it was so quick that we arrived half an hour " before time."
The first impression of London is thoroughly sympathetic, and quite as I expected it to be. It is a really big city, whose size does not lie only in its dimension and population. In every direction the streets are lively, and when one district ends another begins. The omnibus traffic is confusing-the way in which the conductors (without uniform) invite the people to get in is very comical; they lean out sideways, and beckon with hand and arm, calling out the names of the places on their route at the same time. The hansoms - two-wheeled carriages, open and yet quite sheltered, in which the coachman sits up at the back absolutely invisible to the passenger - are the best cabs in the world; they even surpass the Russian isvostschiks. The soldiers too, with red jackets, brimless caps worn dashingly on one side, and walking-sticks in their hands, are quite graceful and elegant compared with the Germans with their studied movements. The Scottish Regiments in their well-known national, dress are very fine.
The book-shops and antique furniture shops catch the eye at once, because of the good taste and genuineness of the articles exhibited. Beautiful editions, however, are by no means cheap...
In the streets one still sees original characters, figures out of Dickens, which give one pleasure after the average types one sees in Berlin and America.
The piano which Bechstein has allotted to me is excellent and so I hope, for the listener, none of my powers will be lost. I was welcomed by the same young Mr. Bechstein whom once I met in Berlin, and who awakened my sympathy so much. The architecture of Bechstein House is charming, and the whole establishment holds a vety important position.
I saw Richter when I was out to-day. Regent Street (which is somewhat similar to 14th Street), Piccadilly (like 23rd) and Oxford Street (corresponding to Sixth Avenue in New York) are all in my neighbourhood, and one comes across friends there as frequently as in the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, or the Graben in Vienna. I shall be glad when you come...
LONDON, 5 November 1897.
Yesterday evening (afternoon!) was a very good success, without being a completely enthusiastic one; and it convinces me that nothing can be done in London with one or two recitals, but much can be done, perhaps, with perseverance. They say Paderewski and Sauer began in the same way, that is to say, with empty halls and moderately good criticisms. The latter to-day are full of respect for me... they are not abusive but do not praise sky-high. A young pianist, a new pianist, a pianist simply called Busoni, as yet unknown - that is how they all begin.
I must say I was a little depressed to-day with the feeling of always having to begin afresh, a Sisyphus of debuts. At the age of 31 this has not been necessary for other people, like Liszt and Rubinstein.
Certainly, here, I have neither
in society - nor
with the critics - nor
for the public - nor
in the shop windows - nor
in programmes done anything to make myself popular. The enthusiasm grew after every piece yesterday, there was an encore too. (I played well.)...
Oh, the so-called "cheap" books in England! .
This sigh comes from my heart: three days ago I saw for the first time a really worthy monumental edition of" Don Quixote", 9 thick volumes in Folio, in which are all the original etchings, engravings, even drawings and water colours, of artists of all times and countries who have illustrated "Don Quixote" either with separate pictures or in sets. There are even different experiments with the same illustration; print, paper and binding splendid, price 2400 marks. Well, I shall never possess it. I must resign myself to that; for if I had as much as 2400 marks to spend on books, I should buy myself a little library with it...
LONDON, 3 December 1897.
I had a pang as I saw the train go out, and I have seldom felt so alone as I did when I woke this morning. Radiant weather, such as you had no experience of in London unfortunately, was a consolation to me'; really genuine Vienna weather, cold, sunny and clear. Added to this, I found in the "Daily Telegraph" the first really warm and detailed account of the concert.
It was pleasant in the evening at Pagani's. The Koelner quartet was there (I know all the members of it, Willi Hess is the leader) and with them Popper and Arbos. The latter has assumed a great friendship for me. In order to profit by being here in London he thinks he wants a friend like me. He said, too, that he must make a change in his life now; things could not go on as they are now, and he didn't know which road to take. A No. i self-tormenter and worrier. That led to the consideration of the English feeling for art in society. We came to the conclusion that we have to do with a period of culture that is over-refined, sensation-seeking, and shallow. In short, the standard of culture has fallen. It is an unhealthy state, chiefly for the artist himself. If one compares the mode of life of a man like Alma Tadema with that of Rembrandt, one can see where the fault lies, and it makes one shake one's head...
LONDON, 4 December 1897.
Nothing has happened to-day except that Fuchs gave a very good turn to my portrait. But sitting for it is tedious and takes up too much time. Friedheim came to see me in the afternoon. I played Liszt's (Don Juan) Fantasy to him with which he was delighted. "Liszt himself could not have played it better". I also played Hexameron, Norma, and Stumme. Whilst I played he gave me some suggestions which were very stimulating. He heard Liszt play these pieces, revels in recollections, and in spite of that was, apparently, very surprised with my playing. He paid me the highest compliments....
I am glad that I shall soon have finished here, but I shall do my best at both the recitals which are yet to come.
To-morrow, Sunday, there is no post, so I shall have to wait until Monday to get any news of you.
What a good thing you telegraphed
LONDON, 6 December 1897.
The concert went excellently; the success increases every time. Gabrilowitsch was there. Hexameron (with Friedheim's hints) made such an effect that every variation was applauded. After the theme, great applause. That is how things should go, then one gets a little self-confidence.
Will you not come to Vienna? It would be lovely. Answer at once so that I receive the letter whilst I am still in London.
LONDON, 8 December 1897.
The success I have had here has been steady and unusual so that my return for the "season" is very probable. Then you shall come over when I come and be here the whole time; it will be lovely... Grieg wrote me a very charming letter. Friedheim is full of admiration for me and agreed at last that even without Liszt I have "arrived". [That is to say, without having been a personal pupil of Liszt's]
CASSEL, 22 January 1898.
[...] The gallery here is beautiful, but it can add nothing to the impressions I had in Holland and London.
A Turk (full length figure) by Rubens here is first-rate, equal to Velasquez' Capitän Borro. Some Rembrandts are incomparable and there is a Guido Reni which has quite reconciled me to this painter.
Yesterday the success was enthusiastic (Erlkönig). Of course they said to me "this will mean a lot with our public".
Cassel is very pretty -" But one day you should come to us in the summer" is what they say. Now I am going to Solingen ....
BUDAPEST, a March 1898.
At last I am here and know what I am going to play. The dogs never answered yesterday although I enquired by telegram. I sat at home, restless and anxious, and practised 4 things.
I met Rosenthal in the street yesterday; he came up to see me for a quarter of an hour and began to talk about technique at once. In other respects he is just as he used to be; after a lapse of fifteen years I have never found anyone so little changed as he.
The day before yesterday, in the evening at half-past ten, I looked in at Ronacher's for a moment.
A lady was singing; it was too serious for a Chansonette and not important enough for anything serious and tragic; but in some ways the performance was talented and refined.
Herr Schnabel is Leschetitzky's youngest hope - a fifteen-yearold pianist. He was standing next to me at Ronacher's, introduced himself, lent me opera glasses and programme, and told me the lady singing was Yvette Guilbert. In this way I saw her without intending to do so and was able to make an estimate of her powers without prejudice.
The first impression of Pest on a beautiful sunny morning is splendid.
Have just arrived, there is a rehearsal in an hour.
(Addressed to Woltersdorf)
BERLIN, 16 July 1898.
I met an old lame man yesterday, clean-shaven, with long white hair, very poor and in picturesque rags. He had such a good, truly noble expression in his eyes, that he seemed to have sprung out of Hugo's "Misérables", one seldom sees such a figure in Berlin. I felt obliged to speak to him, which seemed to please him very much; he was 77 and had been a gardener. One could imagine Linné looking like him. His mind was still clear and his speech distinct. He gladly accepted sixpence and thanked me with such kindly feeling that I enjoyed the experience for quite a quarter of an hour afterwards.
I found something else too, by Liszt, a Capriccio alla Turca, which is the original version of the later Fantasy on the Ruins of Athens, a very valuable and effective piece.
Finally: Chorals by J. S. Bach, edited by Philipp Emanuel, original edition, some glorious pieces amongst them, and the models for his Choralvorspielen printed in 1784...
It took me an hour and a half to-day, just to write out the four programmes for Berlin ; with dates, details of the movements, etc., which had to be very exact. They will make a good impression. .
(Addressed to Woltersdorf)
BERLIN, 20 July 1898.
Rules for practicing the pianoforte
1. Practise the passage with the most difficult fingering; when you have mastered that, play it with the easiest.
2. If a passage offers some particular technical difficulty, go through all similar passages you can remember in other pieces in this way you will bring system into the kind of playing in question.
3. Always join technical practice with the study of the interpretation; the difficulty, often, does not lie in the notes but in the dynamic shading prescribed.
4. Never be carried away by temperament, for that dissipates strength, and where it occurs there will always be a blemish, like a dirty spot which can never be washed out of a material.
5. Don't set your mind on overcoming the difficulties in pieces which have been unsuccessful because you have previously practised them badly; it is generally a useless task. But if meanwhile you have quite changed your way of playing, then begin the study of the old piece from the beginning as if you did not know it.
6. Study everything as if there were nothing more difficult; try to interpret studies for the young from the standpoint of the virtuoso. You will be astonished to find how difficult it is to play a Czerny, or Cramer, or even a Clementi.
7. Bach is the foundation of piano playing. Liszt the summit. The two make Beethoven possible.
8. Take it for granted from the beginning, that everything is possible on the piano, even where it seems impossible to you or really is so.
9. Attend to your technical apparatus so that you are prepared and armed for every possible event; then when you study a new piece, you can turn all your power on to the intellectual content; you will not be held up by the technical problems.
10. Never play carelessly, even when there is nobody listening, or the occasion seems unimportant.
11. Never leave a passage which has been unsuccessful, without repeating it; if you cannot do it in the presence of others then do it subsequently.
12. If possible allow no day to pass without touching your piano.
[...] What do you think of these "maxims for Practice"?
They are formed from my own experience.
BERLIN, 21 July 1898.
Safonoff telegraphed yesterday that he would not arrive until Sunday evening. So I have not seen him yet. Because of this the "Fagottoff" (bassoonist) came at half-past one and played me a concerto by Weber. That reminded me of my blessed childhood, when I listened to similar things on the clarinet.
Have practised for six hours. The bell rang twice this afternoon, but I did not permit anyone to disturb me and I played at being a "deaf one" whilst I continued playing "die Stumme" (" the dumb one").
LONDON, 11 December 1898.
The first person I met here was Delius. He was very delighted, and exceedingly warm. Then Pitt, who gave me the idea (a good one, I believe) of repeating the historical concert with Wood. What do you think about it? I shall come from Manchester on purpose to talk it over with Wood...
I think of you every moment and look forward so much to being at home, to Christmas, and then to the Beethoven concert...
LONDON, 16 December 1898.
My sonata had such a success with Dayas and Brodsky that they were moved to tears. Dayas' enthusiasm, especially, passed all bounds and days afterwards, in honour of the event (as he said) he gave a dinner at his house (for he has a comfortable home and has furnished a whole house). Which dinner was given with excellent intentions and an open purse, but without much success. Only the Brodskys and I were inrited. Brodsky had had some annoyance in the morning and appeared in a most morose humour. No word, no smile. Frau Brodsky had stomach trouble and ate nothing but came merely on account of "the sympathetic atmosphere"...
This London is beautiful. Last Sunday I went into Hyde Park for a quarter of an hour. There were men and women speakers. An old, very ugly, shabby and spectacled auntie, suddenly took up her stand, deposited a little box on the ground, took a bible out of it and began, in a singing, tearful voice, the introduction to a speech. Three people stopped to listen (including myself), then another three, and in the end there were about a dozen. Then she opened the bible and sought for a sign. There were many signs in it. On almost every page. She sought but did not find. She turned the leaves backwards and forwards. I thought to myself, "Now you will lose your dozen listeners". But the public began to be amused and waited with good humour for the moment when the sign should be found. The auntie laid her hand on the open book, and raised her eyes on high; after a little pause the machine began to be in motion again. But during the pause the twelve people had dispersed; for the point had passed. That is enough for to-day.
I think of you every hour, especially if I see something beautiful or am with good people. But I shall be at home soon...
LONDON, 9 January 1899.
To-day (Monday) I decided to pass the day ih London...
It was a brilliantly sunny day, such as one seldom gets here. And a second sun shone on me, for I went to a splendid Rembrandt Exhibition in the morning. What a pity you were not with me. I met Delius too. But now the toil and trouble begins. I hope to get some pleasure from Edinburgh
LONDON, 22 June 1899.
Yesterday I met Richter in the street and he took me to a place where all Germans feel comfortable, namely, to Gambrinus.
"Unfortunately, I was not in Vienna when you played there, but I have heard that Mahler gave you a lesson in the rehearsal. That is the limit! He doesn't like soloists because he hy no routine and cannot conduct at sight. But a conductor must be able to do that just as well as a pianist, mustn't he?"
("Sie, ich wor leiter nöt in Wean wenn S' g'spielt hob'n, oder ich hob' g'hort, dasz Ihna der Mahler in der Prob' a Stund' geben hot. Do hört sich do' alles auf! Der mog kan Solisten nöt, weil er ka Rutin hot und nöt von Blatt dirigirt, dös musz ober a Kapellmeister a so guat können als wie on Clavierspieler, gölt'ns?")
And so he went on talking about all that he had at heart...
Frau Matesdorf is charming, as naïve and good-natured as a child, but she has caught me, like a commonplace flounder, for a Sunday afternoon at home.
Still more about Richter. I said to him, "I congratulate Vienna on your decision to remain there".
"That isn't decided yet. I must think it over well first. I don't think I shall be able to stand it." ("Dös is no nat g'sogt. I wir mar do Sach noch sehr überleg'n. I glaub', i halt's nat aus.")
"But the papers all give the news as a certainty."
"Yes, paper has patience." ("Jo, dös Papier is g'duldig.")
Horribly wet weather.
This evening the soirée, to which I look forward with as much pleasure as a child to a beating.
LONDON, 23 June 1899.
It gave me great pleasure to become better acquainted with Ysaye; he played with me yesterday. He is a great artist and an amusing person, rather a mocker, but, as I said, an artist of the first rank.
Without boasting, I had the greatest success yesterday in spite of him and Melba; "it was the success of the evening", someone said to me.
I shall only stop a few days longer; if Sunday did not come between I should come sooner. I have a longing for home although it is unusually stimulating here...
LONDON, 26 June 1899.
[...] Have been once or twice with Ysaye whom I like and yet don't like, but who possesses a remarkable magnetism, such as Rubinstein had, for instance. So that if he is impolite or coarse one is not angry but depressed. He laughs exactly like Rubinstein and is just as bestial, common, and kingly as he was.
The well-known people I have met are, Carreno, Teresina Tua, Camilla Landi, Johannes Wolff, Hollmann, and Muck whom I have met many times at the Matesdorfs. The evening before last, both the Mucks were there, Arbos and SchultzCurtius. I was in a mood for playing so I played a great deal and played well.
I have invitations and rendez-vous from so many sides that I cannot travel before Thursday evening. I dare not miss any good opportunities just for the sake of a few days, however much I should like to be at home again. I am not in a good mood because I have done no work at all.
MANCHESTER, 23 November 1899.
My recital yesterday went brilliantly. I played as well as I can play. Nothing went wrong, and the enthusiastic success and the criticisms which have appeared already to-day, show a big step in the process of taking root in London. As you see, for the first time, there is no censure, and the "Daily Telegraph" is very detailed. There will always be a coolness in the tone of the newspaper reviews, for this belongs to a certain kind of distinction in journalism in this country. I see that, not only in my own criticisms, but in those of other artists who have been well known in England for a long time.
LONDON, 29 November 1899.
Now the concerts are coming in rapid succession and the success grows. The day before yesterday I had enormous success in Manchester; yesterday in Nottingham. It was very well arranged there; only invitations were issued for it, and those were sent to the best public in the old town... I have been to London in between... Always playing a different programme is a great strain, but also stimulating. Physically I am very tired, but otherwise well. .
MANCHESTER, 7 December 1899.
Yesterday evening Dayas and Brodsky played my sonata excellently. In consequence of the great success I was called on to the platform "to receive the honours".
Everyone sends you warmest greetings. .
LONDON, 8 December 1899.
How beautiful to get a letter and card from you to-day. Thank you with all my heart!
Now the worst is over. Until yesterday I worked like a dog. I was obliged to prepare the last programme (106 Beethoven, 4 Ballades Chopin, Polonaise A flat Chopin and "Robert" by Liszt) in a day and a half, but it went well, really excellently. And after this great effort came the evening soirée at the Matesdorfs. Amongst the interesting people there, I found I was most sympathetically and quickly in touch with Sargent. On my return from Scotland I shall go and see him; he was pleased with my love for painting and general outlook on it, and enjoyed my playing very much. Perhaps he will paint me, which would give me absurd pleasure (and you, too, I am sure) .
The 32 C minor Variations were one of the "most genial" (forgive the expression: at the moment I can find no other) of my new achievements. The 12 Studies by Chopin were, this time, perhaps, more perfect than ever before. There has been a tremendous amount written about me . .
To-day I met Grützmacher (son, a member of the Hess quartet) who asked me to play with him in Bonn, the evening before Cologne. Beethoven's birthplace is half an hour from Cologne. I shall do it.
LONDON, 9 December 1899.
The "free days" after Scotland were very strenuous and this is how it was; on the 5th was the concert in Glasgow; on the 6th I travelled six hours to Manchester, was present at the Brodsky quartet concert and was invited to a late party (at Speelman's). On the 7th Fuchs with his cello woke me in order to play my suite for cello; in the afternoon Brodsky played my Sonata and the Brahms Concerto, and in the evening (now comes the best) I decided to give a private recital to Mayer and Dayas, in Mayer's house. I played:
Toccata C major.
Bach Adagio and Fugue from Sonata Op. 106
3 Studies by Chopin
I have seldom played so well, and the impression which I saw I had made was a great triumph for me, a comfort and a pleasure. After the Adagio nobody could speak a word. After the Norma Fantasy (during which Dayas' eyes nearly started out of his head) he sprang up and said, "What a pity that the 'Old Man' [That is to say, Liszt, whose pupil Dayas had been] did not hear it, he would have given you his sword and died in peace."
ESSEN, 13 January 1900.
The following is word for word out of a French Dictionary (Larousse) : Buson (diminutif de buse) Nom vulgaire (!) d'oiseaux rapaces brésiliens du genre buse. Le Buson de Dandin est le buteogallus aequinoctialis. Le buson de Spix est une autre éspèce [sic] de buse, le spizigeranus meridionalis. Figuratif: Homme stupide (!) What sad notoriety my name has acquired! So that if one says Quelle éspèce de buson que celui-là, it means, What a simpleton he is!
Now about Essen. Newly built and in modern style. The hotel here is magnificent. It belongs (like everything here) to Krupp. There are many pretty details, carpets and decorations... It was night when I arrived. The town has the peculiarity of looking better by night than by day: the darker the better I (Now it is snowing.)
The manufacturing and residential parts of the town are separated. The well-known church, built in the 9th century (vide Brockhurst) is certainly old, but only a quadrangle with holes remains and through frequent "renovations" is altogether messed up...
There are old houses too, and narrow crooked streets. But what is old and crooked is not always interesting. For example, not in Essen.
Und nun gehe ich in Essen, unter Essen, zum Essen...
ESSEN, 14 January 1900.
Oh - these provincial places! I have passed two days of almost physical suffering here. These people, Directors, amateurs, connoisseurs! This Krupp-worship, and this kind of "court life" carried on at the Krupp residence, which is called "am Hügel". These reminiscences about artists and the way their opinions are quoted; and everybody's ideas after having read a Lessmann musical paper! All these things and such a lot of others too! I am so out of humour that I must give people the impression of being a stupid, sleepy person, for I am quite silent and retire into myself.
COLOGNE, 16 January 1900.
Yesterday evening I was in a variety theatre for of an hour, where there was a new turn which made a certain impression on me. I have always felt drawn to marionettes, especially if they are related to a sense of mystery. This time there was nothing mysterious, but something in the relative perfection of the performance was very remarkable. On the stage there was a theatre in miniature, and in this a whole variety performance was given by mechanical dolls (so far as mimicry is possible without word or song). There was also an orchestra and conductor and boxes filled with the audience. There were niceties about this mechanism which were not understood and valued by the public. Niceties of observation and correctness, for the understanding of which an audience with an equally correct power of observation is necessary and this the public does not possess. For instance, the first number was given by a trapeze artist. The movements, the bending of the body, etc. were quite right. At the end, when he sprang down from the trapeze, he made another little spring as he reached the floor, which is what the law of elasticity demands. That is fine.
Then came two so-called music clowns. They had bells on their hands and feet which were made to ring through the shaking of the limbs. There were 8 bells. These were tuned so that a melody could be shaken (not played) on them. That also came off quite correctly. Just the right arm or leg shook at the right time and for the necessary length of time, as required by the melody. Then came the lady on horseback, and at the end 8 Ballet dancers. They were alone at first; then a "Prima Ballerina" came from the back into the middle. Everything very graceful, rhythmic, and with such close observation of life that it made an actually satirical impression. Added to this, the conductor conducted very exactly, according to the rhythm and even according to the character of the piece. And the marionettes' first violin and doublebass players bowed with precision. I was charmed by it. After the applause the curtain went up once more on quite a dark stage, and a "serpentine dancer" appeared, who looked and moved so like a real dancer that she might have been mistaken for one.
This small and illusory world made such an impression of reality that one felt one was living in a true one, and when the lady appeared who directed it all and to whom the whole thing belonged, she seemed to be a fantastic giantess. She was certainly as tall as the theatre.
When I came out of the theatre there was snow on the ground, hard, dry snow. This, combined with the prevailing cold, affected the people on the streets like champagne. First, some boys in a side street began to slide on the slippery ground. Soon a gallery of onlookers formed. Some of them withdrew from it, and began to slide in the main road themselves. The shop-girls on their way home from business were infected. Then it spread still more. Everyone, even men in spectacles, were sliding or trying to slide. They ran into one another, dashed into the one in front, or fell down. If anyone fell the bystanders laughed. Before long the whole street was laughing. There was a sliding, running, pushing, falling and laughing as if everyone were intoxicated.
I have seldom seen such a comical and lively picture .
ZÜRICH, 20 February 1900.
It feels as if one were in the south; blasts of wind blow the air up from Italy. But it is quiet and boring. It was lovely in Strasburg. I became very friendly with the Blumers. He is a splendid man, good-looking, solid, and straightforward one of the simplest characters I have ever known. She is a little philosopher, young and interesting. Both are very good and extremely honest. "As to the wines", they were too seductive. Of an evening we have often been "fiüté" as they say there, that is, "addicted to quiet tippling". The concert went brilliantly and made a sensation.
These two weeks in Switzerland will be long ones! For me there is nothing more agitating than quietness. It makes one want to jump out of one's skin.
Holbein's "The Dead Christ" and "The Woman with Children" are in Basle ! I am glad about that...
BASLE, 25 February 1900.
My success in Zürich was so great that the Tonhallen-Gesellschaft invited me to give a recital on Thursday evening.
Here Holbein and Böcklin absorbed me. "The Woman with Children" and "The Dead Christ" by Holbein. There are some incredible drawings too. By Böcklin I will only mention: "Vita somnium breve" (Life is a short dream) in which childhood, youth, old age and death are united in one picture. (In the foreground, two children play in the grass by a little stream; in the middle, like a monument, the marble fountain with the spring of life. At the back, left, the youth on horseback goes forth into life, and in the foreground, right, the girl watches him go. Above the fountain sits a broken-down old man, with death behind on the point of taking him). What colours!! Then "The Holy Wood Der Heilige Hain"), and his last self-portrait.
A picture with mermaids playing in the water round a rock. And others too.
There is a splendid cathedral here, on the hill, with cloisters and wonderful Gothic sculpture. There is a remarkable view from it down on to the river and the town. It was sunny this morning. Unfortunately the first sunny morning since I came to Switzerland. I am bringing something pretty back with me (I am just expecting Otto Hegner to lunch).
BASLE, 27 February 1900.
The concert in Basle took place two days ago and I am still there. The season is fascinating, almost like late spring; already sunny and warm. It is picturesque and old-world here, at the same time rather lively; like it is in the large provincial towns in Italy. That is why I have preferred to rest here for two days, quite unknown, rather than accept the invitation to Zürich or to Strasburg. The people believe that I have already left. But I must go to Zürich to-day, because of the Zürich recital General enthusiasm here, especially amongst the young pianists. Lochbrunner came from Zürich. Hegner was quite beside himself. I played the Beethoven concerto (have seldom played it so well) and the Paganini Variations, Brahms. Encore: Polonaise, Chopin.
When I see you I will tell you in detail all about two young sons of Segantini whom I met in Winterthur. They accompanied me to Zürich and will probably come to the recital.
The programme is:
2 Legenden (Liszt)
The S. with whom I am living are the only people who speak well of F unfortunately... That is why one should never have anything to do with small towns! They resemble nice daughters of small bourgeois people who are attractie and agreeable outwardly, but who become small-minded and malicious in the narrow circle of social life.
The hotel in which E am living is large, comfortable, and in its way, beautiful, but it must have been built in the Biedermann (or Biedermeyer) time. The style of this period, or its lack of style, suggested the following reflections. This period must have considered purely 'historical kinds of style' (in architecture and in handicraft) very much as we (in dress) think of historical costumes. We find them beautiful, picturesque and becoming; but we should think it a masquerade if we dressed ourselves in clothes belonging to the Roman, Medival, or Rococo style. The roots of our childhood are in the Biedermann period, and in spite of my judgment I still think of a Biedermann room as a room furnished in a solemn, massive style; and I get no feeling like this from stylised furniture, even if it gives me more artistic pleasure and satisfies me more sthetically. In my mind, a distinguished old club-house is always furnished in the Biedermeyer style (for example, the Schillerverein in Triest) or perhaps in "Empire" taste ; but never with artistically fanciful furniture...
LONDON, 20 June 1900.
The Tschaikowsky Concerto is over and went excellently; but once, and never again. I felt as if I had on a new pair of boots; they looked elegant but I was glad to take them off...
LONDON, 25 June 1900.
I have wished for a long time that someone would write a certain essay and at last I have found it. It is-what do you think ?-an essay on "Mälzel's Chess-Player" and by no worse a writer than Edgar Allan Poe! This is a masterpiece of logic and advocacy and gives the most incontestable explanation of the swindle. I am surprised that it is not spoken of more frequently. No one but the master of the "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", "The Purloined Letter", and the creator of Ann Dupont, could have arrived at such a solution with calmness, discernment and unanswerable deduction. Besides this, he is Goethe-like in his clarity of style and in his powers of description.
LONDON, 19 October 1900.
The 24 hours' journey which followed the concert was hard work after an incomplete night's rest. I was obliged to cancel my rehearsal to-day, I am too done up! But London is always beautiful and it is a pity I must leave again to-morrow evening. The journey along the Rhine yesterday, from Frankfurt to Cologne, was beautiful too. We passed castles, ruins, vineyards, and steamers all in a beautiful light...
AACHEN, 24 October 1900.
It is a beautiful, distinguished old town, this Aachen. The people are so kind and refined. In the music shop they were charming and took endless trouble. There is a heap of over 2000 (unbound) volumes lying there in the attic, and amongst them there should be many old ones by Liszt... [Busoni was a zealous collector of first editions of Liszt's compositions. Of collections of this kind his was the most comprehensive]
This evening and to-morrow evening there is a Symphony Concert with Marteau (Sinding Concerto). Have not yet decided whether I shall remain. Perhaps! Thank God I am free! Unfortunately my spirits have gone down.
BRUSSELS, 26 October 1900.
I remained in Aachen and heard Marteau's excellent performance of Sinding's Violin-Concerto. Of course I was noticed at once. The conductor Schwickerath even greeted me from the platform...
To-day I dined with Ysaye who fias a beautiful home, beautiful wife, and beautiful children. The composer Fauré, from Paris, was there; he played his own variations to us. I played Bach's Toccata and the variations by Rubinstein. I was in a good mood for playing, and both the excellent artists were charmed.
The 50th performance of St. Saëns' Samson and Delila will be given to-night. He is here himself, and I shall make his acquaintance, which of course pleases me very much.
They are planning a recital and the promoters of the popular concerts are planning a commemoration for Joseph Dupont at which Ysaye and I are to be invited to play. The harvest of Liszt editions here was plentiful, I bought 36 unbound volumes. The next time you must come with me...
BARMEN, 2 December 1900.
[...] I was pleased to see the good von Dameck. Next summer he makes his journey to Iceland, where I should very much like to accompany him, for ever since reading Jules Verne in my childhood I have dreamt of seeing this country. Perhaps I shall do it...
GLADBACH, 7 December 1900.
Three wet days! And what rest could I get?! After the concert in Cologne I had to go to Mainz at midnight. I arrived there at three o'clock and at this hour, in the rain, I had to walk for half-an-hour to the hotel because there was no cab. In the morning I was awakened out of a deep sleep by a messenger from the orchestra, who was in a hurry because the rehearsal had begun already. A Public rehearsal! At first I thought I would not play at all; but as I was forced to do so, I played pp the whole time, so that the audience was hardly able to hear anything. (You have got what you asked for!) Steinbach, the conductor, brother of the great conductor at Meininger, was rather offended because I did this. As for me, by the evening, I was hardly equal to playing at all; such a thing has never happened before.
And what a place this Gladbach is! What places all these frontier towns are ! Wesel is still to come, but after that I shall take the first express to Holland!
I already count the days to when I shall be at home again. I have still got important work to do in Holland. In Cologne I had great success...
Thank you for your dear, dear letters . . . Write often. Be happy. Think well of me..
WESEL, 9 December 1900.
After travelling in a slow train for a couple of days, in Düsseldorf to-day at last I caught an express (D-Zug) with a dining car! This cheered me a little for the time being. But of what use was that? To counterbalance it I have hit upon an hotel in Wesel which is lit "by candlelight". The rain keeps me in the house at 8 o'clock in the evening and down below the streets look gloomy-gloomy, black and shining like the inside of an enormous eel and just as deserted.
As the town lay on my "triumphal road" I was the guest of X in Neusz to-day. If one has met a young man in a foreign country there is always something strange about getting to know his parents and his parents' house. The analogies between my parents' house and the scenes from" Heimath " (by Sudermann) always return with varying nuances. Papa X is an odd person, weak, obsequious, and confused. He belongs to the category of better people ruined by provincial smallness and family cares.
He looks rather like "the man with the dog's head" in Barnum's Circus, clasps the above-mentioned dog's head every moment with both hands, as if in despair, saying at the same time in the most imploring and submissive tone, "Oh no, oh yes" or, "Is that really so?" Unfortunately the mother is unattractive...
The sister is very ugly but is unbelievably good, so it seems, and clever too. She looks like quite a different kind of dog, taking more after the shorthaired races, something like an English bulldog crossed with an ape. Oh, a household like this is a misery! They entertained me with their best and honoured me as if I were a guardian angel. But I was not happy and had to take great pains to suit myself to their intelligence and education.
How glad I am about Lello! For Benni, perhaps, you should buy the Märchenbuch des Jungbrunnen that is advertised. I think it ought to be good. It is just as important to train the taste and the eye, as to cultivate the heart; just as important as all dead knowledge is unimportant. My opinions have finally led me to this conclusion...
UTRECHT, 15 December 1900.
Yesterday morning was beautiful and sunny in Amsterdam, and I had a free day. I was twenty when I woke up, twenty in feeling, step, and sense of smell. Everything looked new and I made discoveries in details, effects, forms and colours, as one does at the age when one really sees things for the first time and imagines one is the discoverer of them all. It was a beautiful feeling, born anew, and I hope it will often come again..
I lunched with Mengelberg. His orchestra is now one of the best in Europe. I expressed the wish to come often. He thought it would always be difficult to combine the 6 towns, so I suggested that on my frequent journeys through to London I should play regularly, but only in Amsterdam. He was very pleased about it .
I went to the Reichsmuseum with the Kindler, who was at the concert. For the first time I understood the significance of Rembrandt's third style more clearly and was deeply moved.
But how long the road is to everything! The old Elias too, and the younger van der Heist charmed me afresh. I was surprised at the impression Rembrandt's "Nachtwache" made on me this time. I admired the "Kleine anatomische Lection" (the boldness of which is only now quite obvious to me) and that miracle of colour called "Die Judenbraut". The good mood I am in was a great help...
ROTTERDAM, 20 December 1900.
With the co-operation of Mengelberg and his orchestra it was quite delightful in Arnhem, Haarlem. I have won the friendship of all these people. Yesterday Mengelberg made a warm speech about the "Great Master"...
MANCHESTER, 25 February 1901.
Your letters have warmed me, cheered me, and made me happy. Thank you for them... It is quite settled that I shall return home on the second. Until then
concerts (as the billposters say in the "Biergarten"). The recital in London went very well. But I am beginning to notice fatigue. And when I had given the concert in Brussels I thought that the principal work for the winter was over! I have still about twenty concerts before the first of April, four of which are in London. Perhaps you will travel back with me on the 7th. Everybody wishes you were here and most of all your liebender herzlichst küssender
LONDON, 28 March 1901.
Thank you very much for your dear letter. Do not be disappointed if, after all, I am not able to be at home by the first of April; we will keep my birthday on Easter Sunday, which is quite in order. I am so overtired that, to my great regret, I had to refuse to play at the Philharmonic concert yesterday. On the journey back from Birmingham I had an attack of fever. It got so much worse that, after playing at the rehearsal, which I did with difficulty and from necessity, I was obliged to go to bed in the afternoon... To-day the fever has gone and my head is clear; the doctor says that I am in an exhausted condition (without being ill), and that I must postpone my journey if I do not wish to experience the same thing again.
We must thank God that it is not worse and in this way console ourselves for the spoilt birthday celebration, the money lost (for I lose over aooo marks) and our meeting delayed which, for me, is the hardest of all.
I wonder if it will be possible to console Delius so easily? I am very unhappy for his sake for I know how much depends on it for him. He should try to get a later date. But if the worst comes to the worst, the whole thing can stand as it is for next autumn. I have felt for a long time that something was going to happen but hoped to be able to finish here.
Please greet Delius and give him my apologies.
Ge my greetings to all who may come with birthday congratulations on Monday. They will be disappointed, but they are warmly invited for the Monday after next.
I kiss you and greet you with all my heart, my dear wife.
I am enjoying "War and Peace" and I am glad about the boys...
LONDON, 30 April 1901.
I slept on the boat as if I had been at home. It was certainly the smoothest channel crossing I have ever had incidentally it was my twenty-seventh crossing. Sunday was sad. I could get in nowhere... Finally I decided to go to the artists' room at the Queen's Hall and practise on the Erard upright piano. That was all right.
Colonne is quite aged, bent and bald. Was he not fresh and energetic still, with rather a military looking moustache, when we met him in Paris, or am I mistaken? His whole demeanour is softer and more smiling than it used to be, but that hardly improves him. I felt so fresh and youthful yesterday evening and so full of ideas that it was difficult for me either to remember them or to write them down. The new little orchestral piece is quite finished in my mind, and I have worked at the concerto, also at the Bach edition and I have collected things for the essay. But my strength is not back yet, it only flares up, and after the Liszt concert, which was brilliantly successful, I could not sleep at all.
A SHORT DIARY FROM PARIS
Wednesday, 1 May 1901.
Arrived at 7.15 p.m. Charming little private hotel on the Quai Voltaire.
Supper on the Boulevard at 8 o'clock.
To the Folies-Bergères about nine
Thursday, 2 May.
On the search for Liszt editions the whole day. Begged for addresses from one place to another, and made some surprising finds.
To Bullier's in the evening about io o'clock. It was the opening day of their summer season. In a girl with short hair, hat on one side, pale complexion, and a cigarette in her mouth, recognised and greeted Frl. Teresita Carreno. Accompanied her home to Passy in an open carriage; wonderful moonlight night, fantastic impressions.
During the day met Mr. and Mrs. Robert Freund at the Louvre. We greeted each other warmly.
Friday, 3 May.
Lunched at 12 o'clock with the Freunds in the Hotel de Londres. Had a pleasant walk and conversation with Robert until 3 o'clock. After that undertook a round of the Latin quarter by myself.
Considered the most beautiful and stimulating par! of Paris. Enjoyed it enormously. Looks old-world, picturesque and lively.
Was always on the look-out for Liszt editions.
In a secondhand music shop the manager was saying to a customer, "But when I went in for being an artist, I earned much more than any artist! They couldn't play any of their tricks on me. You see, I have succeeded. And I don't care much one way or the other."
All this was said in a very loud challenging tone of voice. I begged for the address of another secondhand shop."But, sir, I am the only person in Paris from whom you can get any Liszt !" "How is that ?" "Well, whenever there is some going, I buy it up. So you see!"
And there was nothing else to be got out of him...
GLASGOW, 16 September 1901.
Of all English towns Glasgow seems to me to be most like those of Western America. (Chicago type.) As an artist one feels out of place; what there is to be seen is neither picturesque nor interesting, only bulky and crude. It is too small a place to give a big industrial exhibition, and not artistic enough to collect a beautiful one. The present Exhibition is small and ugly (not so big as the one in Berlin). The buildings, the way in which it is laid out, and the people are all ugly. The hall in which I have to play three times is a temporary building. It is bare and insipid, and looks like a circus inside and outside like an overturned punch bowl; (or a chamber in an unoccupied room in an hotel). I am afraid of these recitals at exhibitions and of the public which, in a sense, is like a Sunday public, amongst whom I don't know a soul and to whom I am an unknown quantity myself. The miseries of a virtuoso's career stand out clearly once more and I realise how much I suffer.
I had the opportunity of practising on a Steinway this afternoon. My fingers never forget this instrument!
GLASGOW, 17 September 1901.
If destiny, through some devil's intrigue, were to force me to live in Glasgow, I should give up music and become an umbrella maker. In the noble heart of Scotland the position of umbrella maker is more profitable, more highly esteemed and, for the people, of palpable utility.
The concert yesterday was very much as I expected. On my arrival in the artists' room I was surprised by the Exhibition Committee's request (hats off!) that I should play the whole programme without interruption. I was glad really, but afterwards it turned out to be a strain. The public was very enthusiastic and numerous... Afterwards there were living-pictures, and fireworks in the park. This feeling of being a number in the exhibition is bad for one. Yesterday there must have been about 1oo,ooo people in the exhibition, but what kind of people!
GLASGOW, 19 September 1901.
Yesterday there were about three thousand people at the concert. Great success. It's uncanny.
To-day I am going to the section of the exhibition devoted to art, which is said to be excellent...
GLASGOW, 20 September 1901.
Your Monday's letter only arrived yesterday, and it brought sunshine to my heart...
There is sunshine outside to-day; after a stormy morning with violent rain, the sky is clear now. The change was sudden without transition, and that doubled the effect. But my confidence in the umbrella business is a little shaken...
But, the sun, the sun! I see "ghosts"! Visited the gallery yesterday and sent you a book of illustrations at once. Rodin's work makes you feel that he is a citizen of a great city, surrounded by provincial citizens. For simplicity and greatness and psychologically too, nothing so important as his "John" has been created since the work of the great Italians."Work", a picture by Brown [Ford Madox Brown] is quite unusually effective. Remarkably well thought out and executed, but perhaps more remarkable still is the way in which it is painted. It reminds me most of Leempoels, but it is gaily coloured and the effect of the sunlight is thrilling. It seems to me that this Brown (who is already dead) must have been a man with very considerable talent, but too much intelligence.
Yesterday morning I worked well at my concerto. It really will be something good I hope,"
LONDON, 10 November 1901.
Up to the present the few days I have been here have been filled with work. I only arrived at a o'clock on Wednesday, and was obliged to do a lot of stupid little things; look for somewhere to live, order a piano, buy the music for the Sonata recital. Then I wrote to you, and finally I was so done up that I was obliged to postpone practising my fingers and the Sonatas, which were half-forgotten, until the following day-the day of the concert. My fingers had become quite stiff, for I was frozen and starving when I arrived. On Thursday I went through the things for two hours by myself; then for two hours with Ysaye;
after that there was scarcely time for rue to change before having to play for another two hours in public. That made six hoursand without lunch! On Friday I had to do a lot of thinking, making six programmes for Newman, and I prepared for my recital (at the Crystal Palace on Saturday). I played well there, but was quite alone in that miserable place, in front of a strange and not very musical audience... One good thing is that the piano here is first-rate. Our playing with Ysaye was really beautiful, and clean too. The programmes I have drawn up for the Trio evening and both the recitals are splendid. I have put the Dante Sonata into one of them after all. So far I am well. I am only very, very weary and have much to think of... Becker is a good artist, but does not quite fit in with us ... I have become increasingly friendly with Ysaye. He loves me very much now and the other day was quite moved by the Beethoven Sonata op. 109...
LONDON, 20 November 1901.
Tuesday night [19 Nov.]
Yesterday I travelled six hours to Newcastle, played in the evening, and came back the same night. To-day was a day of neutrality. Ysaye in Liverpool; and I spent part of it in reviewing my life and drawing up the sum total. In doing so I thought of you very much and of all the good things I owe to you; I thought of the invariable cheerfulness you have shown during all the times of uncertainty we have experienced together; how you have always encouraged and trusted me and how through your sunshine you have chased away all fogs. I feel obliged to write this to you and to thank you once more.
I shall practise again to-morrow. I have to prepare something entirely new or half new for every concert here; which gives me a lot to do because of the short intervals between them. I am writing all this oh purpose. The distance between us, in time and space, is so great that it is only too easy to be deceived into thinking that our thoughts are far apart too. I wished to show you that it is not so-Goodnight, dear Gerda mia...
You will be sure to write something about my programmes. Perhaps you may still make changes in the recital ones...
"La vie des abelles" by Maeterlinck is a book after my own heart. Pure, deep and natural; fertile in ideas and original. Maeterlinck seems to be soaring still; his feet scarcely touch the earth...
Now I must study a very naïve (not to say anything worse) Trio by Saint-Saëns, for there is a rehearsal in the afternoon.
In order to refresh my memory I was obliged to buy a copy of the Weber Sonata and I took the Liszt edition "just to see" (as one says in poker). Many of the things that I have arranged and altered, which are almost self-evident, did not occur to Liszt. On the other hand, we have done some things alike.
BIRMINGHAM, 4 February 1902.
…There was a concert in Birmingham yesterday evening, in Sheffield to-day, and to-morrow in Manchester.
Ysaye was so rude to me yesterday, that I have had enough of him. It was about the rehearsal for a piece by Saint-Saëns which I did not know at all, had neither seen nor heard, and had to play the same evening. Ysaye allowed me to wait for three hours at Bechstein’s. I sent a messenger three times and each time the answer I received was, that he was asleep or lying down. It was 1 o’clock by then (the train went at 2) and I had eaten nothing. I went to him and told him that, under these circumstances, it would be impossible for me to play. He made such a scene that finally Newman, who was there, told him that he was being rude and was in the wrong and should be silent. It agitated me very much (as I was already in a nervous state) and by the evening I was quite done up. We tried over the Sonata (that is, we read it at sight) one hour before the concert, in a shop. I was almost ill, as was inevitable, and we played like two cobblers.
To make matters worse, the weather has been dreadful, to-day and yesterday.
But I slept for 10 hours last night.
We have not rehearsed for to-night either (a new programme). But I shall not ask Ysaye to do it. You see how petty one can become when one has to do with petty people. It is lamentable.
The next letter will be better. I feel quite well in spite of the provinces, rain, and cobbling…
MANCHESTER, 6 February 1902.
Everything gets worse here unfortunately. I play worse every day, feel more tired, and more melancholy. These things are not for me. Would rather give lessons. I think of you so often and with so much affection. I think of you all. Should like so much to be at home.
If it goes on like this I shall be quite useless for Vienna. I am going to make the programme for Vienna to-day and send it to you for (1) expert opinion, (2) completion, (3) despatch to Gutmann…
LONDON, 10 February 1902.
Many thanks for your dear, dear letter which I only got early the next morning in Newcastle. It has eased my mind very much and made me happy. Don’t be upset with me for having given up the concert in Aberdeen (Tuesday). It was a real necessity. I had such an overwhelming desire for some rest! I have, therefore, three!!! free days, which I am enjoying here in London. To-day I have done some real work once more!…
Three or four times more, and then ‘tis over!
Ideas begin to come almost directly I feel free and that is the only true joy there is in life.
I have thought it out and decided not to use Oehlenschläger’s Aladdin for an opera, but to write a composition in which drama, music, dancing and magic are combined-cut down for one’ evening’s performance if possible. It is my old idea of a play with music where it is necessary, without hampering the dialogue. As a spectacle and as a deep symbolic work it might be somewhat similar to the Magic Flute; at the same time it would have a better meaning and an indestructible subject. Besides this, I have planned 6 works for the summer, the principal one being the pianoforte Concerto. How beautiful! Another thing is the publication of the “Geharnischte“ suite.
VIENNA, 4 April 1902.
How lovely it was to learn of your safe arrival from your telegram,. and at the same time to receive your good wishes!
On the whole it was a sad birthday in spite of the trouble Gomperz took to improve it at lunch, by means of a favourite menu, presents and friendly words. The picture of you and Benni stood in front of my plate, with a garland round it. That was dear of you….
I feel very fresh and alive here and I have ideas. Unfortunately it is over now really, for I thought of going to Triest this evening (Thursday). Or shall I put it off for yet another day?
…I wrote in detail to Delius. Yesterday evening I saw d’Annunzio’s Francesca with Duse in it. In order to complete my impressions of present-day Italy, I was anxious not to miss it. It is, I think, a superficial work. It seemed to me that there was not a single word worth remembering. Many words, sometimes beautiful and sounding well, but no thoughts. The people rather like dolls and costume dummies and the action twined laboriously round a small kernel taken from Galeotto’s book. Beautiful, picturesque pictures but not by him. Transcribed, rather, from Burne-Jones and similar painters and by mistake painting and literature often change places. The success was entirely due to Duse; she stood and sat like a beautiful picture, but is somewhat mannered….
TRIEST, 6 April 1902.
Last night (Friday-Saturday) in Triest I had the following dream. I saw a new species (whether animal or human it was impossible to decide); they were small, not bigger than squirrels. They had lizards’ bodies, with tails like foxes, only twice the length. I can’t remember anything distinctive about their heads, except that their faces had a wise and human expression. There was a big hail. Big enough for them to move about in, and drive in carriages as if they were out of doors. The carriages were very elegant, kind of state carriages, and were driven one after another as in a corso or a procession. A great festivity was taking place. It was easy to see that they belonged to a great and ancient civilisation, by the way in which the ceremony was conducted and by their behaviour. I spoke to one of them and asked why I was seeing them for the first time, and why I had never heard them mentioned? I was told that only those who had become pure in heart could see them. Therefore the faithful and naïve people of the Middle Ages had known them well and had had intercourse with them. (It occurred to me then, how much had been talked about hobgoblins, spirits of the elements, etc. during the Middle Ages.) The refined XVIIIth century had disowned them and consequently not been able to see them any more. “But,” I said, “how is it that S. Francis of Assisi knew nothing of them, he must certainly have had a pure heart?“ The answer was, S. Francis of Assisi was certainly pure in heart, but he thought the vision was a temptation of the devil and denied the reality of it.
That was the dream….
LONDON, 4 May 1902.
To-day, Sunday, I wanted to go to Paris in the evening because Ysaye and Pugno are going to play my Sonata to-morrow afternoon, but I noticed that I haven’t got enough ready money and it is impossible to get any to-day. Ysaye says that Pugno is in a blue funk and that if I come I ought to telegraph in good time. To appear unannounced would be running the risk of Pugno playing me a nasty trick and calling me out of the audience to play my Sonata myself.
We met Saint-Saëns who is as cheerful, sociable and lively as a child, in spite of being nearly seventy. We have got to know more of each other. He conducted his Prelude des Barbares which I liked better this time.
Elgar promised me the first performance of the Overture and Finale of his Gerontius for my concerts in Berlin. 
I met Nikisch just for a moment in the Hotel. He had had an extraordinary success the evening before.
I played well myself (without a rehearsal) and was recalled five times. It was the greatest success I have ever had with Beethoven’s E flat Concerto. Weingartner was very friendly; he was very much applauded too. Altogether the feeling in the audience was very warm during the whole festival. Of all the six concerts the one at which I played had the biggest audience.
My Sonata has also been played in Amsterdam (by Wijsman and Spoor)…. That my Violin Sonata should have so many performances in such a short time is very stimulating. From next autumn onwards, I am determined to be equally zealous as a composer as I have been as a pianist.
This summer promises to be very fruitful; I am feverish for work. At present there is nothing settled here but it is almost certain that I shall be obliged to come again at the end of May or the beginning of June.
 The orchestral Concerts (of new and seldom performed compositions) with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Berlin, which Busoni organized from 1902 till 1909.
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 11 July 1902.
…I have been extremely busy and find complete satisfaction in my work. Only the meals are melancholy. Nikisch remains with the Philharmonic (I thought as much) and I am to play at the first concert. Perhaps Saint-Saëns… Delius wrote a card - his score is being printed. Fernow is full of anxiety because he is afraid my concerto may harm the Philharmonic Concerts. I was obliged to talk to him for a long time before I could get this perfectly senseless idea of competition out of his head.
I must stop for the present because I am immersed in the Tarantelle which ought to be complete in its first rough form to-day. I am deep in it. Swim in a sea of triplets, beat the tambourine, stand on one leg (but not because the room is not big enough). This Tarantelle, following the Adagio, is like going into a thickly populated street on coming out of the Forum, or like a national festival in full swing in front of the Pantheon. The lovely song “e si, e si, e si che la porteremo, la piuma sul capello, davanti al colonello, giuriam la fedeltà” comes in very well here.
Well, much happiness both to you and to me (Lello is well and charming.)…
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 17 July 1902.
…The end of my concerto has now turned out just as I wished. I have almost finished the slow movement. Both the “gay” ones are sketched out too. If only it will go on like this…. It is raining horribly now… The pieces which Remy brought are just like the weather to-day. He - Remy - has the defect common to all Frenchmen, of being patriotic. He likes to find fault with what is German and to praise what is French, although he tries to be just. But in this respect he is not altogether successful, for his Latin superficiality and impetuosity stand in his way. His judgment is always formed too quickly, and is clever at the expense of truth….
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 21 and 22 July 1902.
…Life here takes its regular course…. Lello wakes me every morning - which is very charming and reminds me a little of Lesko. For three consecutive evenings I was in Anzoletti’s company. I am very, very fond of him…
This drawing enclosed is crude and clumsy, but not ridiculous. I have a little weakness for it. It is the idea of my piano Concerto in one picture and it is represented by architecture, landscape, and symbolism.  The three buildings are the first, third and fifth movements. In between come the two “lively” ones; Scherzo and Tarantelle; the first represented by a miraculous flower and bird, freaks of nature; the second by Vesuvius and cypress trees. The sun rises over the entrance; a seal is fastened to the door of the end building. The winged being quite at the end is taken from Oehlenschläger’s chorus and represents mysticism in nature…
I have opened the letter again in order to tell you of my grief at the collapse of the Tower of St. Mark. When such giants come to an end it means that in everyone something comes to an end too…
 Later Busoni’s drawing was used by Heinrich Vogeler for the titlepage of the Concerto.
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 22 July 1902.
…There is a night of love, with a Serenade, in the Tarantelle, and a Vesuvius eruption too. It is getting on well…
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 28 July 1902.
…The Tarantelle will fulfil our hopes; it will be very important. I have played some fragments from the Concerto to Anzoletti. He was visibly moved and could scarcely speak. That was a great, pure, and well-earned happiness for me…
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 1 August!! 1902.
The Tarantelle will be Naples itself; only the score will be rather cleaner, nevertheless not so clean as the other movements. At the moment it still contains too much, and must be cleared up again. But the conception of the whole thing is there…
WIESBADEN, 21 October 1902.
Arriving in unusually beautiful weather in Mainz, early in the morning, gave me a feeling of liberation - the colours in the landscape, the Rhine and the wide perspective, the existence of which one forgets in Berlin, all did me a great deal of good. The Cathedral was an immense surprise, for no one had told me about it, and it is one of the best romanesque buildings in Germany. I sent a photograph of it to you immediately, so you will realise that I thought of you although I did not write. I was too tired to write. The night journey had fatigued me although I had slept. In addition to this, I rehearsed, practised, and gave a recital in Mainz and to-day I decided I would do absolutely nothing, which I hope you will not think wrong.
It was a great success, I played very well. Little houses are built up all round the Cathedral, so that one can only see as much of it as is to be seen on the photograph… Besides this, the town has some old things which are pretty, and it lies amidst glorious scenery, and the wine here is of the best. Wiesbaden, which is a mixture of a small town and a watering place, seems absolutely boring to me to-day.
The Kaiser was here until yesterday, and to-day there are half-dismantled triumphal arches to be seen, and heaps of flags and garlands lying on the pavement. The occasion was the unveiling of a monument to the Kaiser Friedrich, which is so miserable, paltry and conventional, that if it were to be taken down again there ought to be a splendid festivity to celebrate the event…
TEPLITZ, 9 February 1903.
Teplitz-Rain-Tiredness. To-morrow I must go to London at 5 a.m. A good Bösendorfer and old Bartusch (tuner from Vienna) are my one little bit of consolation.
I send you my heartfelt greetings. Please write to London…
LONDON, 22 February 1903.
…Now I am looking forward to my last recital here.
6 Chopin Studies.
6 Liszt Studies.
…A great change is taking place here (through my work) in the feeling about Liszt. One paper wrote that they would like to hear me give a whole Liszt recital (extraordinary for England) ! Another wrote, that it was a pity I only played 6 Studies by Liszt instead of the twelve, “the whole set which had recently made a sensational success in Berlin.”
LONDON, 24 February 1903.
…I am so looking forward to being in the south!!! Even though I am very tired (I have just come back from Harley) I enjoy the thought of leaving an island which is an “island” in every way…
I have made the acquaintance here of a young musician called Percy Grainger, an Australian. A charming fellow, highly gifted and a thinker. He became attached to me from the moment we
met. He played me a very good Toccata by Debussy…
LYON, 12 March 1903.
My train only leaves this evening and I shall be obliged to travel to Fiume without a stop if I wish to arrive at all punctually! Probably Carl XII never came out of Turkey because he suffered, as I do, from “Reisefieber”!  and I understand and love him for it.
I have finished my Tarantelle in my head, and it is very good.
I like Lyon very much, the weather has been incomparable. The recital-so-so; rather funny, they gave me a miserable Erard, which was put up on an amateurish platform. It seems that the people were “dumbfounded”; they had never dreamt of such piano-playing. The tone of the place altogether here is very pleasant and serious. The town very lively, scenery very beautiful, parts of the architecture very good; besides this it has half a million inhabitants (âmes).
Thank you for your dear company in Switzerland. I was very happy there. Auf wiedersehen…. Kiss the children...
 Anxiety caused by the details connected with travelling.
VENICE, 14 March 1903.
Yesterday I travelled through the widest part of Italy, from west to east. It was strange to wake up and suddenly see nothing but Italians and only hear Italian spoken. Venice is sad, or it seems so to me. The sun has been true to me since you left, but there always seems to be something tragic about the sun in Italy - it shines on so many ruins!
FIUME, 15 March 1903.
…Italy went by like a cinematograph, but to make up for it we took 11 hours to travel from Venice to Fiume yesterday; a German express would have done it in 3-4 hours. Arriving dead tired, at 1 o’clock in the morning I got a room “with a bit of a stink” in a mediocre hotel. Old Bartusch, whom I call Bart-busch, is my one happiness. And to-morrow I must start at five in the morning for Triest, where I have a difficult programme to play in the evening. It is not a pleasant prospect. Fiume is exactly like a little Triest. They are as alike as two boxes of bricks, one costing one mark and the other two marks fifty. I have never met such a similar similarity. Harbour with pier. Corso, and the mountain town, old and poor, with some romanesque remains, behind the Town Hall. The same box of bricks only with a smaller box and fewer bricks. To-day, Sunday, military music in the market-place. A lot of hat raising on the part of the men, and affectedly genteel nods on the part of the women. Pretty “milliners,” elegant, and without hats. But the confusion of tongues surpasses Triest. They speak four here and not one is pure. Italian, German, Hungarian, Slav. Little steamers go to neighbouring places. They are ready to start. Smiling anxiously, elegant provincial ladies cross the landing bridges, loaded peasant women and family parties of the townspeople going for the “trip.” The sun shines, inflexible and strong, almost threateningly. Abbazia, the artificial Nice, is very near, a quarter of an hour. They expect people to come to the concert from there. That, at all events, is an audience from a great and important city. On the journey from Venice to Fiume I had a sympathetic travelling companion, an old Hungarian painter; fellow-student of Böcklin, Lenbach, Leibi, Defregger. A genuine, knightly old Hungarian, half-aristocrat, half-artist, with excellent artistic judgment….
MUNICH, 31 March 1903.
The concert yesterday went very well. Weingartner was very pleasant…. It rained horribly. It is cold. My train to Salzburg goes at 8 o’clock. Perhaps after all you will decide to come there! I shall be 37 years old to-morrow! And of these years I have passed 14 beautiful ones with you…
STRASBURG, 2 April 1903.
The way in which you have thought of me for my birthday was really infinitely good and dear of you. I thank you so much and should like you to know how I have thanked you for it in my thoughts every moment since yesterday….
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 12 July 1903.
…I miss you here and have devoted myself to work immediately. From the station I went home and at once settled down, mystically comfortable, in the small room where I make daily progress with the big sketch for the Concerto. And to make it perfect, I also work at the details every day. In this way, as far as is humanly possible, I hope to produce a perfect work…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 15 July 1903.
…I shall go to England to-morrow. It has been a difficult decision to make. I have had “Reisefieber“ for three days and all thought came to a standstill.
The Concerto is rounded off to my complete satisfaction, I have ”dotted all the i’s.”…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 16 July 1903.
You must forgive me for what I did to-day. I cancelled both concerts in London on the 17th and 21st. That sounds short and dry but, I went through several bad days before things reached this pass. I have never noticed this kind of nervousness in me before. What I was most concerned about was the interruption whilst I am writing down the concerto. I felt that it would never be completed if once I were interrupted; (nobody could understand the sketch made in pencil) and I thought, too, that the distraction would make me forget all the important details not yet written down . . . . Finally, I decided that I really ran the risk of not finishing the Concerto if I don’t work at the sketch again until the end of July. Owing to this excitement (and having to practise the piano again) I have lost four days…. When once I have the Concerto clear and settled in front of me, I shall treat myself to a little journey….
Please, dear Gerda, write that you agree and are not angry. I feel so free and am so happy otherwise. I only wait to hear from you in order to be quite joyful… Perhaps a little telegram, just to oblige? would be very hurrah-ed…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 19 July 1903.
How good and dear your telegram is, how grateful I am to you for it! I write just to tell you that with my whole heart!
Since deciding not to travel I have worked magnificently; I have written out the first movement in detail in three days! I mean to make up for my little recklessness by work…. The piano, too, gets practised daily. To-morrow I shall begin to work on my orchestral concerts….
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 23 July 1903.
Work proceeds with colossal regularity, à la Zola. I enjoy it extraordinarily.
Your letters, when they come in the morning, illumine the whole day for me. I am quietly cheerful and have been feeling a little satisfied inwardly for quite a long time now. I shall have to start for England on August 25th….
Hansom cabs have been introduced in Berlin; rather broader and lower than the London ones; they look very well…
The great Whistler is dead…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 25 July 1903.
I am in a good mood but rather tired for I have just finished writing down the 2nd movement: two movements (over 50pages) in 10 days; that is quite respectable. I play the piano every day. The work connected with the programmes for the orchestral concerts has begun too. Letters from composers begin to come in, or rather to stream in…. Forgive me for being short (not indifferent) but my head is like a barrel with Diogenes inside, without a lantern….
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 29 July 1903.
I am deep in work; the working out of the Adagio goes smoothly; but the Tarantelle will still give me many a nut to “crack”…
What I hear about Lello gives me the greatest paternal joy; but what is the son-and-heir doing?
I enclose a portrait of Rampolla, this pontifical Bismarck; a wicked, great and unforgettable face….
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 3 August 1903.
…My thoughts are chiefly occupied with the concerto which becomes more perfect and compact as I write it down. I took in hand two little operations to the Tarantelle which make it bloom still more… The big sketch is going more slowly than it did, and that will make it easier for me to make the score afterwards.
The weather here is cold and rainy like November. I long for the sun as one longs for something unattainable.
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 6 August 1903.
It is very important for me to get to the end of the third movement, and I hope I shall do so to-day. I have gone ahead again and the nuts I was afraid of in the Tarantelle have been successfully cracked; (without nutcrackers - with my own teeth; nothing but the nuts broken). Everything seems to be succeeding and you will be pleased….
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 11 September 1903.
When no telegram came from you on Wednesday, either in the evening or late at night, I was seriously anxious. I read the paper eagerly the following morning to see if there were any mention of storms, delays or anything else in Sweden; as I found nothing I felt re-assured, and finally the telegram appeared in the afternoon. I worked industriously. I have begun the instrumentation and it should be worthy of the work. I practise very industriously and do my correspondence. I hope with all my heart that you feel well and that you are happy yourself, and that your presence gives happiness to your family. I am with you all in thought to-day. I hope it will be a beautiful day for you all. Unfortunately I have been unable to get anything for Pappus,  and have only sent a telegram; but he will feel that the good wishes come from my heart…
 Busoni’s father-in-law, Carl Sjostrand, celebrated his 75th birthday.
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 12 September 1903.
What great happiness your dear letter gave me to-day; I felt as if I were with you all and in feeling I took part in the re-union of your family.
And your beautiful dream! It is almost Flaubert’s St. Antoine. I shall keep the letter for it is not at all an ordinary one and not “miserable” as you think. Yes, I have faith in the concerto and, almost to my own surprise !, it becomes perfect in form only in the full score. It is going to sound well…
STRASBURG, 21 October 1903.
How life slips by one ! Days are like eels; you seize them by the head, and they slither out of your hand by the tail just as you think you hold them tightly. I played the St. Saëns Concerto after all, for St. Saëns will be here in a few days and I did not want him to hear anything stupid…
The Concerto had a greater success here than elsewhere, for they do everything that is possible to please the French.
CHESTER, 9 November 1903.
Just arrived in old Chester, cheesetown, the English Parma. Have still got an hour before I need make a leisurely change into shirt and dress clothes and take advantage of it (tea is ordered) to let you know a little about myself. The crossing was very good; no sign of sea--sickness, everything went well and I slept quite tolerably on a bed which (to judge by its hardness) might have come from a penitentiary - a bed for sinners…
I found Draber in the Café Royal. He tells me he carries on a friendly correspondence with Mahler and will write to him about his fifth Symphony for my orchestral concert. That would be very nice. Mahler could then conduct both the Liszt piano pieces….
LONDON, 13 November 1903.
…Mahler has promised at once to come without a fee; but it will be difficult to agree about the programme. The 5th Symphony is not yet finished and the third, which he would like to do, requires women’s and boys’ choir, alto solo and the passengers from Noah’s ark. As I have neither alto, tenor, nor bass Hippotamus, nor chromatic snakes, nor pedal-birds of Paradise at my disposal - ! Well, we must wait and see….
It has annoyed me to learn that I could have played here in the Richter concert instead of being obliged to go sailing and tossing over to Ireland…. The critics in Berlin are very much on my side this time. New things that are good will never be recognised immediately, but this time my principle has been appreciated…
LONDON, 19 November 1903.
I undertook a big feat which has left its traces in limbs and nerves. Arriving here in the morning from Ireland, after two night-journeys there and back, I was met by Schulz--Curtius who asked me if I would play at the Richter concert the same evening for Hess, who had been taken ill. It was a Brahms evening, and there was no choice; the D minor concerto was the only possibility. So I sat down immediately for three hours, in order to get the thing into my memory and fingers.
There was a rehearsal with the Manchester orchestra in the afternoon: in the evening the Concerto went brilliantly and with great success. Both physically and mentally this was one of the most fatiguing performances I have had and it was very much appreciated (by Richter too). In spite of being nearly done for, I was obliged to go to Cambridge the next day for a recital. My playing there, too,. was very good and fresh, but to-day I have reached the boundary line. I begged Marga to go to Cambridge with me. After the concert we were invited by Mr. Dent, who speaks Italian so well, to a little supper in his small, very tasteful bachelor quarters (in the University buildings)…
Dear Gerda, I hope you will sympathise a little with me over the exertion I have been through. I am glad I was able to do it. Mr. Dent’s cheerful zeal to show hospitality and his naïve, agreeable modesty were quite touching…
There is a recital here on Saturday afternoon (Chopin), Tuesday, Liverpool; Scotland begins on Thursday with Dundee. I wrote in detail to Mahler and hope for an answer to-morrow. Except for the Richter concert I have really had no artistic pleasure here; Chester, Crystal Palace and Dublin were almost disheartening. The distinguished university audience in Cambridge and the undergraduates sitting on the platform revived me again, and, as I said, had a considerable effect on my playing. For 1 _ hours I felt no fatigue…
PARIS, 8 December 1903.
…The crossing by day was so horrible that even to-day I am seriously ill. The picture I saw when I arrived in Dover was horrifying. The sea was quite dirty and frightfully stormy, loathsome. The boat rocked uncannily even in the harbour. One felt as if one were going straight into the throat of an angry monster. I considered quickly whether I would postpone the journey again for it looked as if one were going to meet death, or at least a spectre-like uncertainty. But England, unfortunately, is an island, and one has to make this crossing sometime; I had no time to wait for good weather; a decision had to be made. I was on this terrible boat and the bridge was pulled away behind me. We took 2 _ hours and from beginning to end and for three hours afterwards I was extremely ill and suffered horribly. I shall certainly never go to Corsica  now; I can’t run the risk of such an experience again!
In the evening in order to get some air I went to the Boulevard and at the first corner I met both the Deliuses. They send you many greetings…. Forgive me, I think I am not clear in the head and write confusedly. What will happen to the piano-playing to-day nobody knows…
 It was Busoni’s constant wish to visit Corsica.
PARIS, 9 December 1903.
As I have already telegraphed, I had an unexpectedly big success yesterday evening. “Since Rubinstein we have not heard such a fine pianist“ - that was the general verdict. I was and am very happy about it. I continued being sea-sick until three o’clock and was on the point of cancelling the concert and then I collected all my energy and practised for three hours. In the evening I was fresh and played well; the piano was miserable, mis-er-able, and it took a great deal of skill to make it sound a little like my playing…
On the journey from New York to Boston,
3 March 1904.
I am writing to you on the way to Boston so that you may have the threads in your hands immediately on your arrival. Unfortunately they seem to have been cut for quite ten whole days (perhaps more!). Parting from you was harder for me than I showed and I shall never forget the feeling which came over me as I waded through the ugliness of Hoboken in order to reach that everlasting ferry. It was like a relapse in an illness which one thought had been overcome; for on the Moltke I almost felt “European” and my spirits began to go up again.
It worried me too, that you had not yet started and that I had no exact information about your departure. I begged Clark to write at once and tell me what time the boat started. We had barely time to pack and have some breakfast; with both of which Mr. Clark “helped” me with equal pleasure and taciturnity. Only once he broke out into a short but enthusiastic hymn about you: “if he married it would have to be a woman like you” (but there is no second you)…
In the train I fell into a deep sleep which lasted for three hours. Then I ordered tea; now I am smoking and writing, and expect to reach Boston in an hour. I must ask you to forgive me for having given you some sad moments here, but I could do nothing to prevent it and it was with difficulty that I suppressed half my bitter mood; you were always so good and I thank you….
BOSTON, 4 March 1904.
…Yesterday I led the ideal American life the whole day. I waited till late in the evening for “ferries,” “cars,” “trains,” etc. Finally I was quite weary.
Mrs. Gardner fetched me from the morning rehearsal and took me to her house which is indescribably beautiful, valuable and tasteful. It contains an ideal concert hall. All the beauty that I saw there was very uplifting: Venetian, Gothic, Titian, Velasquez, and a wonderful bronze bust by Benvenuto Cellini spoke a language to me which one does not hear in this country. The sun penetrates into every room in the house; the big court is heated by it and this gives an impression of Italy; it really was Italy itself. The programme I am sending contains the whole of my Boston history. Also that of the “Todtentanz” (by Liszt), (which was drawn up in 1839 and first performed in 1864. You see: “What is good matures slowly.”)…
BOSTON, 5 March 1904.
The day was over-full yesterday. In the morning - rehearsal, then Mrs. Gardner, then lunch in the Botolph Club; public rehearsal, wrote some letters and received visitors, finally in the evening at Gericke’s until midnight…
Mrs. Gardner had paid over 500,000 Dollars duty on condition that she made a present of her house to the town. When that was all put in order, they found that she would not have the right to live in the house which she had given away. But as she went on living there they forced her to pay an additional 200,000 Dollars within 3 days. The woman is now almost poor. What she has collected there represents an enormous sum (the are so many rare books that they are hardly noticeable; amongst them an old Dante edition which alone cost 2500 Dollars). She has one of the most beautiful Titians I have ever seen: “The Rape of Europa.” All the columns, arches, doors and windows are genuine; Roman, romanesque and Venetian.
Dear Gerda, I am writing to you for the third time to-day; but I am so accustomed to telling you about everything I see and experience that it has become a necessity…
(To-day I’m off to Chicago - oh!)
On the journey from New York to Chicago,
6 March 1904.
Yesterday’s concert was very nice, great success, two laurel-wreaths; I played my best. But they don’t understand it, and it is almost useless playing to them; with the exception of Löffler, Stasny, Grünberg and Gericke.
Hale only speaks of technical wonders, but I have built up the Todtentanz from loose stones really.
The “Wüstensatz” in the Saint-Saëns was only sound and poetry (everything came off particularly well yesterday) and when writing about this he still talks of technique and nothing else! Artists are only there for artists; everything to do with audience, critics, schools and teachers is stupid and dangerous rubbish…
Löffler made me a present of a beautiful book by Whistler  (a rarity).
Mrs. Gardner was at both the rehearsals and at the concert; I believe I have a good friend in her.
We had quite a festive evening. Everybody regretted your absence…
The Strauss concert in N.Y. must have been sad, the hail was almost empty and Don Quixote went so imperfectly that he had to break off in the middle and begin it again…
 “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.”
DETROIT, 8 March 1904.
…If there is a bookshop here they are so ashamed of it that it is hidden away somewhere. I travelled 28 hours yesterday (the train was late as usual, but only 2 hours this time) Boston-Chicago, arrived 2 o’clock in the afternoon, played at 8 o’clock in the evening (without rehearsal, it went well) and at midnight went on to Detroit…
In Chicago I shall only have a relative amount of rest; I have to play, practise, finish the Mephisto Waltz, and invitations are pouring in with such importunity…
Whistler provided me with excellent company on the journey. How unjustly he has been treated and in what a coarse way! And how rightly he feels as an artist!
I wonder every moment what it is like on the boat. I hope things are not very bad; it is not much better for me…
8 March 1904.
…I am dropping with fatigue, literally, and must soon dress for the concert!
Beginning with the day you sailed, I have written to you every day; one letter has gone already to-day. In thought I send you a greeting from my heart. Probably you think of me too. You see, Marconi did not discover wireless telegraphy.
CHICAGO, 12 March 1904.
Now to-day, Saturday, the 12th, you will soon “see land!!” Daily and hourly I hope that the journey will be as endurable as possible for you - I wonder whether I shall get a telegram to-morrow?
As I shut up my volume of Molière yesterday evening, before going to bed, I said to myself: I ought to be really grateful to Molière for having helped me over an hour. But the thought was scarcely formed when I felt ashamed and annoyed with myself for having had it. What? Did I consider my life of so little value that I wished to get over an hour as quickly and unnoticeably as possible? Is not that exactly the reverse of what I wish? An hour! Every minute can contain a special happiness - and the hours of my thirty-eighth year are - taken literally - counted; I know that they can never come again and yet I thank this old French jester for having stolen one of them from me! But I must tell you about my dream last nigh!! I was in an old town (N.B. which I have seen 2-3 times already, in dreams, but which I have never seen in reality) and, from the top of a gothic tower, I was obliged to go down an outside winding staircase. I stepped through a window into the inside and came straight into a chapel where a service was being held. (I think it was “Catholic“.) Then - at a sign from the priest- - a piano was brought in like lightning, half through the air, by three men and three demons. And that was “le piano du diable“ (I know I thought in French). Then I had to play at the church ceremony all the most godless stuff that I could remember. I know that, amongst other things, I played the Kaspar-Lied from Freischütz and the Mephistofeles-Serenade by Berlioz. If the passages were difficult, then the thing played by itself. Like lightning it was carried away again. I cried out: “Stop, I must still play something religious,” but it was too late. This is all the fault of the Mephisto Waltz at which I am working industriously and which will be masterly.
At the Symphony concert in Boston I had two scores in my hands, the “Elijah” by Mendelssohn and “L’Enfance du Christ” by Berlioz. There are such amazing moments in the second less well-known one, that (in spite of being an old expert) I gaped and was almost left with my mouth permanently open.
Yesterday I went to the class held by Mr. S. It was a repetition of what happened at the Conservatorium at Helsingfors. A youth and two silly geese of girls played - the master made a slightly embarrassed, half--humorous speech, and finally seated himself at the piano. The poor fellow could do nothing. But the geese gobbled delightedly, the master made a few ironical remarks about himself, renewed delight, oh! oh!, but to me he complained that he was not in practice whereupon I said I had noticed nothing.
The day before yesterday I spent the evening at Consul Graf Roswadowsky’s. Excellent people; they both possess the noblest simplicity. Wonderful Italian food. With Ganz I played les Préludes and Mazeppa on 2 pianos…
I have booked a cabin on the Blücher already. Joyful, most joyful meeting….
CHICAGO, 15 March 1904.
Yesterday I went to the Walküre… But what a disappointment it was, after many years, for me to hear this work again. How poor and empty it seemed and how cheap! (There are only about four motives in the whole piece and three effective endings to acts. Possibly this discouraging impression makes me exaggerate, but to me it seems to be “ageing” rapidly. When I think of Don Giovanni, which is 115 years old, there is no comparison. The performance was weak in spite of such artists as Burgstaller, van Rooy, and Ternina all taking part. How seldom can an artist do what he is capable of doing at a given moment, and this time they were all tired and had colds. Result: I was in the dumps about everything connected with the stage. Mottl, who conducted and held everything together (I admired him very much this time) warned me seriously not to come. And he was right….
CINCINNATI, 17 March 1904.
Here I am at Cincinnati! Last concert but one the day after to-morrow. I was very satisfied in Chicago; they fully appreciated me. Both the Roswadowskys are charming. He is not deep or intellectual, but in goodness, noblesse and simplicity a genuine nobleman…
CINCINNATI, 18 March 1904.
What a metropolis Cincinnati is compared with Indianapolis! But how differently I see everything from 10 years ago. How slowly one learns “to see.” How few learn it completely. I was told that in Indianapolis a lot of the niggers mix with the Indian women and this produces a type like Satan incarnate.
The last day in Chicago, I over-tired myself by playing Norma, Sonnambula, Variations by Rubinstein and the Mephisto Waltz twice, to Ganz and Schiller, and it was on the same day that I wrote for six hours at the transcription. Well, it serves me right.
Just think I have only more days here!!!!!
May our next meeting be as soon and as joyful as possible… Tschi-pu-li-ki !! (which in Japanese means: Dein sehr liebender).
ROCHESTER, 21 March 1904.
Although the last concert takes place here to-day I feel quite “awfully unwell.” What can one do, or even think, in such a barbaric hole? The hotels are the most entertaining places. This Auditorium Hotel provides for all tastes; it has a theatre, concert, restaurant with elegant women, bars, newspapers, cigars.
…To me the chief difference between Englishmen and Americans seems to be: that the first are always silent and the others always babble. This is most noticeable when travelling. I was looking at a magazine to-day with portraits of prominent Englishmen who lived in the ‘forties. These types of “faces” are very different.
There is an essay on Strauss in the same magazine, by a man called Huneker, and what he says about Wagner is very good. He says that Wagner was complete in himself, but Liszt “was the torchbearer” for progress; also that Wagner’s importance lies in his music and not in his reforms.
What Whistler says is very good too; he says that the artist has to choose; that there is everything in nature and only the artist’s choice can make a picture out of it; just as the keyboard contains all tones and they only become music when they are grouped together.
To-day I write the word finis under America. With how much greater pleasure shall I place the word under my concerto! I plan to do Aladdin, Ahasuerus and the second part of the Wohltemperierte Clavier.
It is unnecessary to say how much I look forward to everything at home. Sad, that I hear nothing from you, whilst you will have my news up to the day of my arrival…
Not quite a day-book and not quite a night-book: Sketches on board the Blücher during the crossing from New-York to Cuxhaven: 24 March to 3 April 1904. Ferruccio Busoni.
SUNDAY, 27 March 1904.
Although the weather was more or less unfavourable as long as I was in America, I awoke on the morning of my departure with the most brilliant day before my eyes. Everything was sunshine and brightness, the air warm yet crisp, the town appeared to be renewed. This, and the thought of departure, put me into one of those infinitely rare, almost unreal, conditions of the soul which makes every detail seem delightful and interesting.
This condition makes one see many things as if for the first time in life, and that lends one a deceptive feeling of youth. My carriage drove through a quiet and distinguished quarter of Hoboken, which pleased me so much that for a moment I almost felt a desire to stay. Animated life on board, farewell scenes, both melancholy and joyful, and both suffused with this sun, enlivening everything and giving rather an air of festivity to the whole scene. As the steamer began to move, the band played an old German song very full of feeling, and below, hundreds of people close together, all waving handkerchiefs, were apparently receding from us, but we steamed quietly past the highest buildings of New York, the Statue of Liberty and imposing steamers. Everything was enveloped in the sunshine and transfigured by it. Then I cried, seized by a melancholy happiness; in a way exalted and yet so very sensible of all human weaknesses and the timidity of most when a big decision has to be made and the distance to be traversed is great. I felt that I was turning my back on a period of my life, on a big country, on a world complete in itself, too unceremoniously perhaps, and without giving it its due importance. I was excited by the prospect of the long wished for opportunity now perceptibly nearer, of again meeting everything dear to me; by the responsibility of the new duties waiting for me, undertaken voluntarily or imposed upon me by circumstances; by the fact that the next few days will complete a year of my life; and I had an involuntary inclination to draw up a balance between what is done and what has to be done. I am always more vividly occupied with what has to be done rather than with what has been done, even if the latter is much the more difficult of the two. This is a source of perpetual restlessness in me.
I felt satisfied, this time, with the amount I have done. I have accomplished two-thirds of what I proposed doing this year (a rare percentage) and yet I tremble before the one-third which remains to be done, more than I am able to feel a sense of rest about the two-thirds which have been done…
Two days of the voyage were lovely; sunny and quiet. On Friday afternoon for half an hour I had the enjoyment of complete rest; I sat in the sunshine and enjoyed this unusual moment. But I was soon impatient again; this intolerable passivity. One counts the quarters of an hour. And to-day, Sunday, suddenly fog - the whistle sounds and counts the quarters too. On board everything is crumpled together. If only I could do something in which I am interested I have had one great pleasure. I have read Stevenson. He is great: a storyteller, a thinker, a realist, a visionary, poet, philosopher, simple and complicated; he has the grip of a master when he begins and his hold never slackens. He is new, original, but of the type that could just as well have been born 300 years earlier or later. He is deep without being heavy; he is a moralist and above all a writer. For there are two important points: the artist must, before everything, be quite professional; and far-seeing, too, beyond momentary considerations of time and space. Artists with these qualities are the ones who remain…
I have the score of R. Strauss’ ”Sinfonia Domestica“ with me on board. Strauss is a person of decided talent and has rich gifts. Polyphony and movement are necessary elements in him. In this piece, the musical illustration misses fire (I have only read it) for the child’s cry is the only thing not to be misunderstood, provided one knows the title beforehand. It is a long work consisting of small movements, and the movements of small motives. He uses much material from his earlier compositions. Like a family picture, it is very joyless, irritable, excited, restless. The score looks like the streets in New York. Its name is the only effective thing about the Oboe d’Amore, that old instrument, the deeper oboe; but who hears the name when it is played? The frequent use of a complete clarinet family, as in chamber music, must make a pretty colour effect (a family within the family).
A masterly fugue.
A Scherzo; a cradle-song; both according to recipe, without surprises. A couple of well--known climaxes, which come from Tristan. It breaks off frequently and begins again. Contains lyrical and popular trivialities (the latter by polka rhythms, as used previously in Till Eulenspiegel, in Don Quixote, and Feuersnot). An admirable facility for making things complicated and spreading out what is small. Strauss seems to write out both the principal voices, then the principal middle voice, and afterwards cram in everything there is still room for in between. One can go on and on with that, but he does not stop in time. He does not understand the mastery of the unfinished. On the whole, a work for which one has the greatest respect, from which one gets much amusement, and in which there are many quotations (especially technical ones). This is as far as the first impression goes.
Have read Stevenson with increasing admiration. He does not repeat himself. A bazaar of ideas and scenes! He possesses the key to the problems of fiction like no one else.
I have read some short stories about Spain, France and Ireland; also a psychological and a philosophical one. All through them there is colour, character and thrilling plastic art; humour, seriousness, poetry of nature and human observation. And-above all-the art of the writer.
There is a beautiful Steinway grand on board. I dare not open it. I can never overcome this scrupulous feeling about half-publicity. (I should have a great desire to play - if only I were alone !) Besides, the company on board is unsympathetic and does not hang together. They all look at each other in a stiff, almost hostile, way. I have only spoken to one of them, an American sculptor, Niehaus, (a child of 58, but honest and an artist).
The fog has vanished quickly. The beautiful weather continues.
ATTEMPT AT A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
In his novel ”The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” Stevenson has undertaken to embody (the word is to be taken realistically) an abstract moral idea: he begins his work with one of those master touches of fiction, which immediately subjugates the soul of the reader to the author. Through a long series of situations and mysteries, continually accumulating, he is not allowed to recover consciousness; this is done first by the solution which tears as under the knots of the secret, and because it brings on to the scene as a living person an idea which cannot be embodied - assumes such a violent and grotesque form, that it would have brought an author of less authority and inferior skill to disaster.
The idea which gives Stevenson the motive for his work, and which is nowhere expressed, is as follows.
Every person originates from both the elements, good and evil. But if anyone wished to try and divide his individuality according to both these elements, he could not succeed.
Man can give way to his bad instincts completely, but not altogether free his good impulses from the bad. Thus the better person (if we now suppose two separated, distinct existences of the same one) will preserve his innate wicked inclinations, and cherish the longing to give way to these every now and then. This extract of the bad will produce an individual, who at the beginning must be smaller, weaker and younger than the original individual. Smaller and weaker, because the evil is only a part of the whole, and younger because this part has been put into action less, has been less used, than the person as a whole. But, whilst the person as a whole has the propensity to put his devilish side into practice, the bad, and in one way more perfect part of that person, has no impulse to do good because it knows nothing about that. But after each new trial, the pleasure taken by the primitive man in exhausting his passion becomes stronger and the desire to do so more frequent; and the small, weak, and younger second person begins to grow, to become stronger and older and gradually obtains control over the first, against his will and to his despair, until at last he is overcome.
The form in which Stevenson clothes this deep idea I would rather keep secret here, in order not to destroy the surprise effected by the author on the reader at the end.
The German, E. T. Hoffmann, had the glimmer of a similar idea when he planned the figure of the goldsmith in “Fräulein von Scuderi“: but the problem was not so clear to him and he did not carry it to its final conclusion. Hoffmann’s feeling for the fantastic and Poe’s strength are united in this book; the development of the action is romantically tense and borders on the sensational. On the whole, it would be difficult to meet with a more remarkable type of novel.
Did not get up till 12 o’clock to-day. The boat has “rolled“ worse and worse ever since yesterday afternoon. When it began I was sea-sick for 5 minutes but not longer. I seem to have learnt this art too. I may still find it very useful. Finally a “poker party” took place. This is a really good pastime here, as I don’t excite myself over it.
And now we have fallen in with a so-called “ground swell” and the boat either tosses or “rolls“ horribly. I am not seasick but “hard at the limit“ - my stomach has become suspiciously “dainty.” The nights are very distressing, I get up from my bed every day, as if from an illness. And yet people always say that a sea voyage like this is a recreation.
It appears that nearly all the passengers here know me. And, of course, I shall be pressed, more or less clearly, for “a little piece.”
When will one be left alone for once?
I have never looked forward to anything so much as to the completion of my concerto and to the rehearsals and the performances of my orchestral concerts; to my well-earned distraction. How many beautiful things there are still in my life.
This is the last voyage I can endure for the present; my energy in this respect is exhausted and I have lost my patience.
I feel that my nerves exist, and like children they grow too much for me and could soon tyrannize over me. But neither children nor nerves shall ever do that.
How young our European music is, still only a few hundred years, and our culture numbers many thousand. There must be a reason why music develops so late. Perhaps, because it does not find its models ready-made in nature as the other arts do, and the first impulse - to imitate - cannot arise.
It should not surprise us, therefore, if the Americans still possess no art of their own in music.
The very lively sense that Americans have for reality makes them excellent painters.
I feel that music is nearest to the abstract sense; in which the Americans are still children and amateurs. Above everything music is most nearly related to nature; not to its forms, but to its being.
To-day I am already thinking about “to-morrow” which is the day we arrive in England. How clumsy such a great boat is! It only reaches Cuxhaven three days later. I could not decide for a long time whether to travel overland to Berlin from Cherbourg; everything considered it is more practical to travel further by water - if fog does not intervene. I am suffering from the effects of reaction now, both physically and mentally, and I feel more tired every day.
I staged quite a good April hoax. At the Captain’s dinner last evening it was officially announced that I was going to give a recital at 11 o’clock this morning. All the people, who only get up at this hour, were already on their legs at 9. I was the only one who remained in bed. I sent word that I was not well - unfortunately I really am not well. The food here is most pernicious. In addition to this a cold, exhaustion, nerves- -
How could I have played?
Have not touched the keys since the 21st. Now I am 38 and at 40 “the mountain is climbed.” Which is worse? The laborious ascent, or to have arrived at the top? query. But I am not dissatisfied. If things go on as they are going at present and no worse!
It is the land which gives beauty to the sea; it is only when the coast comes into sight that the sea acquires drawing and colour and seems bigger, too, by comparison.
I noticed this again as we approached Plymouth; it was an extraordinarily rich picture.
The letter from Gerda has quite transformed me - dear of her and charming - as always. Europe is beautiful and I belong to it once more - but its pettinesses are extraordinarily troublesome, especially when one comes back from another continent. The English papers give the music programmes for the week.
In London the Messiah and the Pathétique are to be performed…
One might just as well be reading the papers for the previous years. In Berlin the Pathétique is being played and the vicious circle continues. And in New York there was a big fire again.
2 April 1904.
We arrived so late in Cherbourg (why? There is no explanation) that we were only able to unload the passengers for Paris on the following morning - at 5 a.m., it is true. At 6 o’clock we started for Cuxhaven, so if nothing intervenes we ought to be there to-morrow the 3rd, at 12 o’clock mid-day. The weather is glorious, clear, calm and fresh.
Yesterday evening I turned over the leaves of R. Strauss’ score again. It gains nothing from renewed acquaintance.
His orchestration - in spite of unusual virtuosity - is not “sonorous” because his style of composing is opposed to his orchestral writing. It branches out too much. I believe he has made a mistake in some of the proportions again. He has said himself, “Wagner makes everything sound but I am often unable to achieve this.” That is because Wagner concentrates everything on the principal idea. Strauss really has 12 subordinate ideas and they are in confusion; the chief idea lies more in the atmosphere than in the motive, but it is easily effaced by overloading.
But I must hear the work. Music is there to be heard.
Half the passengers have landed. It feels very solitary on board. One gets accustomed to everything and certain faces belonged to this voyage; they are now missing.
I was unwell yesterday evening and this morning early and the condition of exhaustion, which is familiar to me now, was not far off. Now, after lunch, I feel better - I hope to evade the crisis this time…
This is the last evening on board and I close this ragoût, which one cannot call a ”Daybook” . At most a twilight book for thoughts dawn in it; they half sleep. But there is an evening and a morning twilight; I hope it is morning twilight and that a more beautiful, newer and clearer day will follow.
The evening of the 2nd April 1904 on board the Blücher.
LONDON, 20 November 1904.
All my ideas of a Sunday afternoon in London were surpassed to-day. It would be impossible to imagine anything so empty, gloomy, lonely, dead and paralysing as the reality.
“Florian Geyer” was a good travelling companion. The language astonished me at first; it is ancient, rich and strong (for the first time I met with many unintelligible expressions), but the incessant jargon, which is forceful and Luther-like, is very fatiguing. All the more so because all the people, without distinction of character, make use of the same forms of expression. During the whole piece, the ideas exchanged are only about past or expected occurrences; one never sees the events about which citizens, peasants, warriors and knights speak most excitedly. Lastly, only men speak, and what men they are! Of a mediaeval type, violent, devout, and superstitious; as they still were at the time of the Reformation. Wonderfully portrayed and vivid too, but to me strange and repulsive. It is a dramatized chronicle of the peasants’ war, like Gobineau’s of the Renaissance; whether the difference in the enjoyment lies in the subject or in the artistic treatment of it, I cannot say with certainty…
This journey in the Irish fog has something so sad about it! Besides, I am battered from the journey. I will try to work a little…
LONDON, 22 November 1904.
“To-night will be the third night I have not stretched my legs on an honest bed:” they would have been able to report in “Florian Geyer.” (A book that grows very much towards the end.)…
The arrival in Ireland was very beautiful; it almost reconciled me to the senseless toil of the journey…
LONDON, 23 November 1904.
To Mrs. Busoni, in Berlin, beloved consort, twofold mother, and Court pianist’s wife.
From F. B., traveller in highly fragile toneware. Otherwise sound.
…At this moment I am preparing to travel to Manchester. “no day without a journey” this time, and of course I am not in the best humour. An hour ago I had Schultz-Curtius and Frau Matesdorf to lunch with me at Monico’s. It was quite nice but not particularly “youthful.” As a human being and an artist I prefer to look forward rather than backward, and my preference for the company of younger people is connected with this fact. And I hope it will be like this until the end; for when that ceases, it is depressing - as your father said whilst he stood on his hands and planted his legs against the wall….
MANCHESTER, 24 November 1904.
Darkness and frost prevail here, as in a refinely contrived department of Dante’s Inferno, where travelling Virtuosi, who threw away the best part of life because they were covetous for fame and money, grind their teeth…
Richter was particularly pleased with the Henselt Concerto (at the rehearsal). How great are the differences in people and musicians!…
CREFELD, 28 December 1904.
I had a little misfortune on this unimportant journey; for, first of all, whilst sleeping I passed Crefeld and went on; woke up at a little station almost in Holland and was obliged to wait nearly an hour for a train back; nobody collected the tickets, which was extraordinary, and I got boldly into a first-class back to Crefeld (without ticket) so that I travelled two hours for nothing (but uselessly).
Secondly, I had notified no hotel and hit on a deplorable one at first and was obliged to find something better.
The third, and worst thing was that I had quite forgotten that I have to play Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy - was neither prepared nor had I brought a piano part with me. As if that were not enough - the weather is still cold and rainy which makes this ugly town still uglier! It is built in a square, that is to say, it is surrounded by a north, south, east and west Boulevard, so that I have a suspicion that it was originally called Card-feld. And here I have to stop for two days! Basta!…
LONDON, 12 March 1905.
I was very, very disappointed to-day when instead of you, yourself, your telegram arrived… The only consolation is that you have escaped a horrible crossing…
I have discussed a project for a new grand with Caufall. It is a question of adding and introducing two manuals to the “modern” piano, the register of the “Clavicembalo” and a “coupling” stop. If that succeeded, there would be a new epoch for piano-playing. The present state of things is hopeless, and the development of the pianola and similar inventions are not to be underrated…
(Addressed to Godinne, Belgium)
BERLIN, 12 July 1905.
…Yesterday (Wednesday) Mengelberg came just as I had begun my lunch and he joined me. The food was good, the meeting comfortable (and friendly)… The “Chianti Busoni”  was sampled- - it was quite excellent. A new invitation to America (the third) has come to-day…
The first act of Turandot is finished and the first piece of the “Suite” from it is planned.
 From the vineyards of an uncle.
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 14 July 1905.
To-day 50 pages of the Turandot score are finished (still not quite half). The pleasure and ease continue.
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 15 July 1905.
…I am indoors even more than usual, always occupied with something, and am at home before midnight always; I sleep like a child, am called at 9 o’clock, and begin at 10 regularly: “the charming Chinese tyrant” is attired, and will soon have on her wedding veil and have laid aside her cruelty. There is still a choice to be made of materials, colours, and jewels, and they must be arranged in a way to make them really shine and please.
…What Schopenhauer says about music is magnificent. “By virtue of the inexpressible intimacy of all music, it passes in front of us like a quite familiar and yet eternally remote Paradise. It is completely intelligible and yet inexplicable, which is to be explained by the fact that it reflects all the emotions but none of the actualities of our being and is far removed from its torment.”
This eternal pessimist is right once more, however. If he speaks he knows why and how.
I am writing everything as it occurs to me; just as when you are at home, I show you this or that as the occasion arises.
The weather is lovely now towards evening - but the courtyard in front of this quiet flat is sad.  I have such mixed feelings of hopes and reminiscences that I do not know if I am a greybeard or a youth. Perhaps for the first time I am sensible of my real age to-day. For:
At forty you have climbed the mountain
And you stand still and look back.
 Augsburgerstrasse No. 55, Gartenhaus.
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 22 July 1905.
…Yesterday I was overtired because I had been creating with such rapidity, and the first of the well-known walls got up in front of me; not so high, however, but that a little skilful climb will get me over it.
“I can climb”! but if one gets weary, the climb is harder. To-day I am almost over the wall…
It would be best if Ysaye were at the opening  concert and more convenient for him too, I think… He should also conduct.
I shall make the orchestral part of the programme French and the solos classical. Kreisler proposed Bach’s Double Concerto and Mozart’s Violin and Viola Concerto. Besides that, Ysaye ought to conduct the Second Symphony by d’Indy. In between the two solos should come César Franck, scored by Pierné, and at the beginning an Overture either classical or French or Belgian…
 The orchestral concerts arranged by Busoni.
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 24 July 1905.
…Turandot will appear on the stage to-morrow. Even to-day, cruel, proud sounds announce her approach. But one must not forget that she is beautiful…
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 25 July 1905.
…I still sit at home all the time, have worked splendidly, she has appeared!… The march of the heroine has improved as I wrote it - do you remember a type (female) that you noticed in Madrid and I sketched on the spot? (it’s a fact). Even more has come out of that…
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 26 July 1905.
…Turandot has reached the 72nd page. I gave it a rest this afternoon. I took your warning to heart, but the thing goes by itself almost.
There is enough material for two orchestral suites. I have been working at Turandot’s march and I have made it like a portrait of her. In my mind I have thought of it as four character pictures: cruelty - passion - the veiled beauty and the unveiled beauty.
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 30 July 1905.
…The “Philharmonic orchestra” sent word that for the first concert only two rehearsals were possible,  and they hope I will agree to this. I wrote a letter back which ought to be printed!
1. That I had engaged them in good time; and that all later engagements which might interfere with mine are of secondary importance.
2. That if they did not keep the conditions and the evening was spoilt thereby, they would be obliged to pay “a fine,” as I should have to do in a similar case. But as it would mean that the whole series would be spoilt, they would have to pay a threefold fine.
3. That they ought to be ashamed of having so little ambition as to put on one side an important, difficult and new programme.
4. That I demand the 3 rehearsals and, moreover, that nobody must fail to come and there must be no substitutes allowed.
5. That the rehearsals must be arranged as favourably as possible for the performances and so on.
(A reply came on the same day, saying that my wishes will be carried out.)
My parents, instead of regretting that I had difficulties, send reproaches to-day. Patience!…
Work goes forward and the scene will change again soon. It (the work) is bigger and more important than I thought it would be. I have made the sketches with extraordinary rapidity and they contain far more than I thought they would at first…
 This refers to the “orchestral concerts with new and seldom performed works,” arranged by Busoni.
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 31 July 1905.
To-day I have quite finished the Turandot march (84 pages); it is a very effective and rather imposing piece of music. I am looking forward to beginning something with new sounds and new atmosphere to-morrow…
(Addressed to Paris)
BERLIN, 2 August 1905.
I think you are now in the enigmatical, incomparable, inexhaustible town of Louis XI and XIV and of the memorable year 1793. No town has so many points of contact with humanity as this cruel, fascinating monster… Meanwhile I have three riddles to solve; and I have to get rid of the people in the second act. I began practising industriously again yesterday, some new things too…
(Addressed to Godinne)
BERLIN, 6 August 1905.
…I am so full of my work that I can think of nothing else. When I have visitors, and even whilst I am playing to people, in my mind I steal away into my little room again quite unconsciously. I often interrupt my meal, and in this way it has reached the sooth page, which is only the end of the second act.
The Concertstück by Egon is very good; a little too much head and purpose but a good step further on. We have undertaken some cuts and changes which will improve it still more. What a long road the road to mastery is, even for someone who is very gifted - and often still further for him, because he sets himself bigger problems! The unbelievable clarity and the ease of execution in these last compositions of mine satisfy me very much…
LEIPZIG, 4 September 1905.
The weather is so uncertain that one can get no enjoyment out of life. But anyhow, the “Fair” is going on…
In thought I went through my bundle of work from the beginning, through all its different stages. I remember that I went through a horrible time whilst I was writing the “Second Quartet.”  The first movement lay unfinished for over a year, and I had no courage or inspiration to continue it… The task was too big for me; and it was only after two years that I had developed enough to tackle it again and with great will power was able to finish it: I was at a very uncertain stage too, when I wrote the Symphonic poem!
No, my existence as a composer really begins with the second violin sonata.
I am resting here a little and feel comfortably bored.
 Begun when he was 20.
LONDON, 26 November 1905.
…I stayed up very late with Egon in the Hotel… I read my “libretto“  He found it very convincing, new and strange but yet, he felt, it could not be otherwise. It has an unusually firm and clear form, and Egon brought to my notice what charm lies in the fact that ”nothing spoken about is brought to any conclusion…”
 “Der mächtige Zauberer,” Opera text after Gobineau.
BIRMINGHAM, 29 November 1905.
The rainy weather continues - it is not cheerful.
Caufall’s behaviour towards me is touching. He appeared in my room at 2.30 to-day, with a menu: “I think it must not always be piano-playing; you must have a little to eat too.”
I have been obliged to read the short story by Gobineau through once more and was struck by the success of my first throw at adapting it for the stage. The point now is whether it will flatten with further work…
A good part of the dialogue can simply be translated from the original, throughout, it is short and dramatic and his expressions pregnant. As soon as the text is ready I shall divide the thing into “pieces of music“ in my head, it is so simple!…
(Addressed to Stockholm)
BERLIN, 17 February 1906.
I must thank you again so very much for your great restraint on Thursday. 
Many people sent letters and flowers after the concert. I am writing to the Russian consulate for a visa for the passport…
Yesterday I was almost more exhausted than I have ever been. Was obliged to rehearse, practise and play. A concert without you was, for me, and even for the others, strange and empty…
I am quite down. The journey will be still more difficult under these circumstances…
 The news of the fatal illness of his father-in-law, Carl Sjöstrand.
(Addressed to Stockholm)
KARLSRUHE, 19 February 1906.
I am writing on the chance of its reaching you, to tell you how deeply I feel for you. These days have given me a shock; I notice it physically too. This suffering takes me further along the road of life. Is it to a higher level ? This will come to light when the clouds have disappeared again.
The libretto  is completely edited… In the middle of everything else the music has occupied me too.
I left the house with a heavier heart than usual yesterday; I have felt your absence-in addition to everything else - oppressively…
 To the “Brautwahl.”
BASLE, 25 February 1906.
The description of Pappus’ beauty in death moves me so much every time I read it. And I had to read it three times. How relieved I am to know that you will have no painful impression to remember…
TRIEST, 2 March 1906.
Yesterday I played in Graz; from there, on the same evening, I took the train to Triest. First I supped with Mr. and Mrs. Kienzl. The arrival here to-day was particularly charming; the view of the sea by Nabresina is always a surprise, although one knows what is coming. It is a radiant day, the air clear and mild. Triest looks like the priestess of the sea. In the customs, bearing and looks of the people I am struck by a resemblance to Madrid. The women often have the same expression; the culture is very similar. I went to the hotel and it was three hours before I could decide to drag myself to the “Via dei Fabbri.”  It is not cheerful at home and it is very wearisome. Mama is certainly very alive still and Papa does not look so bad as he does in the picture, but I can scarcely bear to be in this atmosphere. It was infinitely beautiful to see you in Vienna. You were in such a soft and tender humour…
 Busoni’s parents lived in the Via dei Fabbri.
TRIEST, 4 March 1906.
…My windows overlook the harbour. The beauty of the morning to-day is incomparable. The sun seems to penetrate everywhere; the only shadow which I see is that of my house on the ground, in front of me. The sea is smooth, with unbroken lines, like a tightly stretched piece of delicate blue satin, with a strong dark blue at the extreme edge. On the right, the Karst Mountains, a reddish grey, and against the slope the houses looking like little white dice, thickly sown; it gets misty in the direction of Miramar. Everything white stands out sharply. Sailing boats and little steamers with red, blue and black funnels are the only mobile things in the rigid picture. It must be magnificent to see the town from the sea, climbing up white and semi-circular, and on the top, at S. Giusto, there must be a prevailing sense of peace made by the sun and walls which must make an almost holy and heroic feeling. When I see all that again, it always makes me think of Triest in Napoleonic times. The town was rich then, and respectable merchants, dignified and calm, with high cravats, carried on trade between the gay- coloured east and stiff, grey Hamburg. A little current from the air of that time was still blowing during my childhood, and Triest steered a middle course between the irregularity and cunning of the orientals and the strict correctness of the Hamburg patricians.
At that time the ”new” town arose, the empire-town, outside the old and closed in hill-town, which even to-day is extremely remarkable…
And with the removal of the Free Harbour, which was pain and grief to my grandfather, Triest lost its importance and sank down into its present characterless state. But just as people one loves and has known for a long time always look the same to one, I always see the Triest of my childhood, in the same way I have seen no change in my mother for o years, but in reality it cannot be so. In the same way I see my present face in the child’s portrait which I send you; and which, in expression, seems to me to be out of the ordinary. From the name of the place at which the photograph was taken I must have been about 12 years old.
There is nothing worse than looking back; or than places, people, and facts that lead one to do so. I seldom do it and should like never to do it, but here I cannot help it. Therefore I feel uncomfortable and as if in the night I had been shunted off my track on the main line to a side--station where there is no train traffic. It is an interruption in the life of my true self, the self who, in the world, is famous, active and who looks forward. Whilst here a child, who has grown up, is forced back about 25 years into the unchanged surroundings of his childhood! Away with it! And live once more! Something cries out in me, and with that I think about the idyllic ending of the Adagio in the concerto and the Tarantella which follows.
But after the end of the Tarantella? The air here is almost like that of Rome, and, hypnotizes one and pulls one with soft arms towards the south’ and Italy’s quiet enjoyment of life. Will that be the end?
Don’t let us think of that yet….
LONDON, 14 June 1906.
I worked hard at the libretto yesterday, partly in the train and partly here, and it is finished up to the last scene with the three caskets. Much will be altered, meanwhile all kinds of musical ideas occur to me (still visionary) so that I have successfully planned the introduction to the third act. But nothing will have any form until I am at my writing table and can see the notes on the manuscript paper. I have great hopes for this piece, which is a continuous creative pleasure and scarcely gives any trouble.
Thank God, the Patti-concert is over. Yet why do I thank Him, if it was His will that it should take place?
I was the only normal person on the platform!
The others were:
Patti..........................63 years old
Santley......................72 “ “
A girl violinist..............11 “ “
Ben Davies.................Weight 100 Kilo.
And this Albert Hall. Good for bull-fights, maybe! but for piano-playing? And the programme - and the Music!…
LONDON, 17 June 1906.
…Yesterday I heard part of M. Hamburg’s concert and then went for a moment to Pachmann’s. He had just finished the “Invitation to the Dance.” As the public applauded, he showed with his hands that he wished to speak. “Mr. Godowsky“ - he said - “has made an arrangement of this piece very difficult! - he can’t play it himself - he - he. I - he - he don’t play it yet before -the public - must be careful - careful - careful - he - he - he“ - and went off laughing and shrugging his shoulders.
The “Brautwahl“ goes on by itself and takes me with it. The prelude to Act I is almost there, the whole of the first scene in a general way.
The verse for the last scene is also coming - I feel very happy about it - but really only about it; in other respects my mood is not good, but thank God I’m well…
(Addressed to Schloss Habrovan in Mähren) 
BERLIN, 14 July 1906.
I received your beautiful letter soon after mine was on the way and it made me quite joyful!
If you are concerning yourself there with details from my childhood, remind Frau Caroline that I received the ”Hoffmann” out of her library and I have had these volumes with me during childhood, youth and manhood, and in different ways they have always given me stimulation.
I read something in Hoffmann’s biography which I must write out for you. It is as follows.
In the spring of the year 1820 Hoffmann experienced a great pleasure. A traveller brought him a very cordial letter from Beethoven. Beethoven wrote:
“Through Herr N. I avail myself of the opportunity of addressing you, a man whose genius I appreciate. As you have written about my humble self, I must believe you take some interest in me. May I be allowed to say, that, coming from a man like yourself, gifted with so many excellent qualities, this has gratified me very much.”
From Von Oehlenschläger, too, there is a letter to Hoffmann, signed: “Adam Oehlenschläger, Serapionsbruder.” All this has given me pleasure and the Brautwahl does not stand still…
 Castle of the famous singer Caroline Gomperz-Bettelheim.
(Addressed to Schloss Habrovan)
BERLIN, 16 July 1906.
…I am getting on with the opera - the purely lyrical does not come so easily. But Manasse’s curse and Thusmann’s story already sound in my ears. There is invention in every bar and it shall be so up to the end…
(Addressed to Schloss Habrovan)
BERLIN, 17 July 1906.
The song has gone well. It constitutes the kernel of the “Zelte“ scene (Act I).
Yesterday I was at Bartolini’s for a moment. The young men (C and L) have gone suddenly, without paying, and owing many hundreds, have left him in a bad dilemma.
He was magnificent. “Look“ - he said to me - “I am good and if necessary would let my shirt be taken off my back. Amongst men one can come to an understanding. They should have spoken to me frankly. I am good” (here he began to get rather strange in his manner) “and my sole religion is: Do unto nobody what you would not wish them to do unto you. I act on that basis. But let someone try to do me an injustice!” (and here his fierceness grew visibly): “I once travelled over the ocean from S. America, leaving all my business in the lurch. I travelled to Italy in order to cut a man in pieces.”
“But what did you do to him?” I asked, really scared; he made my blood run cold. “You can rest assured that man will wrong nobody any more.” This is in true Renaissance style.
This is my travelling plan: One night through to Munich, then on to Innsbruck, and if I don’t like it well enough there I shall go on to Bozen and Trient.
I am so impatient. I am only taking the libretto and manuscript paper, no books and also no dumb piano!  am in a wonderfully good mood with the exception of a little “Reisefieber”; it is excellent. Your dear news and the remembrance of the last weeks at home are the cause of that…
 Busoni never possessed a dumb piano.
(Addressed to Schloss Habrovan)
MUNICH, 19 July 1906.
I have brought with me your very dear first letter, in which you suggested I should make this journey. To-morrow I shall go on to Innsbruck…
The weather is glorious but scorchingly hot. You should see me in a silk coat!
I have done much more work. The “Zelte” scene is finished…
(Addressed to Schloss Habrovan)
MUNICH, 20 July 1906.
…My impression of Munich is not a very pleasant one. There is going to be a shooting competition one day soon and from the shooting ground men with thick beards, woollen jerkins, rucksacks, and cotillion favours, walk about proudly and happily masculine…
At 11 o’clock in the morning the restaurants are already full of people eager for luncheon, and the park seats are occupied the whole day. It is so cheap here that in order not to be looked upon with suspicion one dares not give more than a 10 Pfg. tip.
The institution of waitresses is a pleasant arrangement for mankind, or rather for men-kind. Friendly counsel over the bill of fare gives an agreeable introduction to the meal here. I have not looked at any pictures, for my brain is already worried more than enough with the opera. I think I shall go straight on to Trient this evening; I have had enough of green clothes, goats’ beards and bare knees.
From my recollections of Trient, I believe I shall like it there. I was there when I was thirteen, when we left Vienna, and went about from place to place like a caravan belonging to the annual fair. I have vivid recollections of a count and abbé with an unusually clever and distinguished face. I remember, too, that it was winter and we froze in the houses. In the stone hall of a Palazzo Salvotti, which the baron and master of the house had most kindly given up to us, I played with fingers stiff with cold. There were rows of people in overcoats and turned-up collars. I believe it was in the hotel there that I was conscious of my first male emotion, for I kissed a chambermaid with very red hair and quite black eyes, whereupon my mother said “non é bello,” and it was precisely these words that produced the consciousness.
Bozen is very near to Trient and I shall choose between the two, The food in the Italian Tyrol is very good, the climate divine, the wine genuine and I will gladly continue taking the baths for 14 days.
I am happy that you have felt so well at Habrovan. The whole family has always been so good to me and to the end of my life they will have my gratitude and love…
(Addressed to Vienna)
TRIENT, 21 July 1906.
With the thermometer at thirty - between 2 and 3 (“dalle due alle tre“)  I paid a visit to a Capuchin monastery. I had to see it; and I wanted the atmosphere too for my church vision. The road up to it was nothing but walls and sun. The “Superior” received me with some reserve, and was rather mistrustful at first. One could hear the brothers chanting their litanies inside. That suited me very well. A cool courtyard, with a fountain in the middle, welcomed me refreshingly. The Superior was a little surer about me when I introduced myself as an artist, a friend of the religious orders, and (God forgive me the lie!) as a pupil of the famous Liszt, (but the Superior was quite uninformed about Liszt) so I hastened to add that Liszt had been a priest himself, and a friend of Pio Nono’s. The name of Pio Nono put the Superior on firm ground, and he now bade me welcome. He led me to the church, where he made the prescribed reverence in front of the high altar (I crossed myself, am still good at it!) and then through the very modest rooms of the monastery. I dared not go into the garden on account of the heat. He told me, too, that it was necessary to arm oneself with a stick as there were snakes in it. The library, he said, must have been valuable at one time, but during Napoleon’s reign (always Napoleon!) it had been plundered. Organ they had none. He bade me come back, in a friendly way, and took leave of me with a modest: Keep a happy memory of the Capuchins! When I asked him whether he had been here for long, he nodded his head and seemed to go quickly through many recollections: “35 years he supposed.” He did not say this with despair or content, but there was a sound of trained resignation in the words….
Now I have settled here, unpacked the manuscript and have a little piano in the room. Unfortunately my creative vein, which was flowing beautifully, dried up suddenly when I left home. Even an hour before leaving I was obliged to take out some manuscript paper in order to put down a good idea. Since then everything has stopped.
Yesterday I went quickly to Bozen, in order to decide where to stay. There is no comparison!
Bozen, the German bourgeois town (in the style of Moritz von Schwind, but not so good), and Trient, the Italian Renaissance aristocratic town, like Ferrara, Parma and the like.
Surely it is unique for two such distinct types of towns to lie only an hour apart….
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
TRIENT, 25 July 1906.
…One could not be lonelier than I am, even on Mont Blanc. I know no one and speak to nobody, with the exception of the hall-porter and the waiters.
For the nerves it may be very good; but the effect on my imagination is just negative. The landscape is wide and the day before yesterday I climbed a hill in order to see the whole picture. Trient’s appearance from a bird’s-eye point of view reminds one of Bologna: austere, gloomy and compact, with grey walls and tiled roofs; but the landscape here is much grander, it is really heroic in style. One is reminded of it, too, by the formation of the clouds which is like it is in mountainous districts, often thundery, but with surprising lights from the sun on isolated parts, whilst other parts lie entirely in cold shadow. The perspective at the end of the valley awakens a feeling of longing and seen in the morning, or even at sunset, it makes a great impression on the emotions. I believe, if it is properly absorbed by the soul it should be productive to the creative flow (later on)…
I am waiting for the next post before closing my letter.
Meanwhile I have made a clean copy of my libretto and, for diversion, made a pretty drawing for the title-page…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
TRIENT, 26 July 1906.
…They have become so accustomed to me here that I no longer cause any sensation. I am already counted as one of the people of Trient, and shall soon be nominated an honourable citizen.
Oh, why do the girls always walk in profile? You cannot believe how sad the people look here. They live in a hopeless town, and every new day is to be feared, for there is nothing but emptiness and a lack of point in each one, and in the course of time one gives up expecting surprises! The worst of it is, they are conscious of the situation and I noticed the same feeling of resignation and negation in them and in their expressions, gestures, and speech, as I did in the Capuchin Prior.
“But what can you expect, here in Trient!”
It seems to me that the girls give expression to their need for emotion in a mania for quarrelling. The smallest pretext will produce an explosion in the already over-laden atmosphere. An elderly daughter, accompanied by her parents, on finding her usual seat on the promenade already occupied, made a scene about it to the old people for quite half-an--hour. She spoilt the beautiful evening for herself and for them. It was not rage over the seat! but over the uneventfulness, captivity and hopelessness, which had been accumulating-daily!!! - for 30 years.
Thank God that the seat was there to make some outlet for the rage!
Compared with Trient, for example, Empoli could be called “American”…
I am reading some intimate letters by Giusti, full of wit and grace…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
TRIENT, 28 July 1906.
…I have bought Verdi’s “Ballo in Maschera” here, in order to have some company for a couple of hours.
It is a strong work, brutal, but has great power and is plastic. Some moments in it belong to Verdi’s best, it seems to me; I did not know it, but I found that much of it had been sounding in my ears since my childhood. But the libretto! And the lyrics! It is the story of Gustav the Third, transplanted to Boston from political considerations.
One finds in it: “Odo l’orma dei passi spietati.”
“I hear the footmarks of the merciless steps“ - is such a thing possible?…
This Tagliapietra is a fine, clever young man, an idealist, and he adores me. (He accompanied me to the station, no one else came.) It is psychologically interesting that my father, from jealousy, wanted to frighten him away from me; so he ran me down when speaking of me. He began, “But you do not know my son!” then came the list of my failings. Just think, my father, who would not tolerate anyone mentioning the slightest weakness in me, does it himself in order to prevent someone from getting to know me!
Forgive this letter being rather confused, but I have written it in three pieces…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
TRIENT, 30 July 1906.
…There is a poem or speech in this little Giusti book, which was written when Napoleon was proclaimed King of Italy.
I have sent the book to Papa, because it says so much about places and times which he knew quite well in his youth. He was very pleased with it.
I have read many details here about the poor von Saar; it has impressed me very much. There was a time when I loved him very much…
It takes 10 hours to reach Madonna di Campiglio from here, and even then it is only possible with carriage and horses. Yesterday I tried to climb up the vertical Sahara in the hope of an oasis; and travelled 1 _ hours on a branch line to Lévico, a spa in the mountains, where there are iron baths and many foreigners, so they say. It was a fiasco, for the journey was extremely hot; on the top nobody was to be seen until 8 o’clock in the evening; a boring, expensive hotel that I disliked intensely.
I stepped into a little inn: on an old piano lay Sinding’s Frühlingsrauschen and Puccini’s Bohème. An oleograph hung on the wall, a copy of one of Sichel’s portraits, of a woman. In the street a peasant boy with a squint was whistling the Faust waltz. This shows what is really popular and well-circulated in present-day art! And yet one speaks of “living“ works of art!? What peasant boy whistles Don Giovanni, and where can one find the piano score of it in a mountain inn?…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
TRIENT, 3 August 1906.
…I am always quite, quite alone, with the exception of the letters and my dear acquaintances Thusmann, Leonhard, the Commissionsrath and even the unbearable Manasse - interesting people - and then, too, Verdi and Berlioz, certainly men of the first order, and finally myself, also endurable.
For an opera composer the only way out of the difficulty is to write his text himself… Wonderful, how during the composition one can strike out, add and change, according to the musical requirements.
A composer is circumscribed by another poet’s libretto, in the same way that an architect is hampered by the given ground, the reason for, and the money allowed for a building which he designs.
The last three days, I have done Manasse’s proposal, and following it, the reconciliation of both the old friends. From the words, “Everything is as it was before,” the reconciliation works up to a joyful ending. The way in which they embrace, after coming to a mutual understanding, is very comical…
(Addressed to Alt-Aussee)
BERLIN, 9 August 1906.
…I read Tirso de Molina’s “Don Juan Tenorio” to the end with great pleasure. It is powerful, has great freshness and facility, is big, and at the same time naïve. The creative artist will never reach this point again. The time for unaffectedness is past. We reckon with too large a public, that knows too much about the variety of things.
It is so difficult for anyone to create just for his own pleasure and for that of his nearest friends; as Tirso did in the small province and for (probably, towards him) the friendly court and as Goethe did in Weimar. (But his naïveté disappeared as his world-wide reputation grew.) If a great and naïve genius were to appear now, it would be a hundred times more valuable than it was 3-400 years ago, because the feeling of responsibility, the competition with a mass of master works, constantly accumulating, and the increased technical demands, make it much more difficult to be a genius of this kind now. In any case Molina’s “Don Juan“ is a rare type of this vanished art (Holberg is another one) and I not only have a great desire to introduce the piece to Reinhardt, but I should also like to write the necessary music for it which, perhaps, is a little impudent of me. It would consist of some serenades which should be sung, and a couple of invisible choruses which should accompany the apparition of the statue. The stone guest comes, of course, at Don Juan’s invitation; it does not end here, however, but he invites Don Juan, and even asks him “to the Chapel.” Don Juan promises. He is to be entertained with a meal, which one gets for nothing in the “Cabaret de la Mort.” There must be some uncanny music, which must be played during the meal.
A chorus of spirits sings:
“Denket alle, die ihr fürchtet
Gottes unermeszne Strafen,
Wie so bald die Zeit verronnen -
Wie man jede Schuld musz zahlen.”
(Leporello: “Diesen Vers hab’ ich verstanden -
Er bezieht sich klar auf uns.”)
That is a dramatic situation of the very first order!
There will be no lack of engagements this year; and for that reason, I am still keeping away from too serious work this month; they keep on coming in.
I am immensely pleased at your return…
This old man you describe might well have been created by Hoffmann. Something clever and inscrutable, and quite different from anything in daily life, is hidden by a certain bitter--sweetness and obligingness in the character. Councillor Krespel, Godfather Drosselmeier, and similar “abnormal“ people are like this, as he says himself through the mouth of one of the Serapion brothers.
AMSTERDAM, 4 October 1906.
…I feel battered to-day and have, with a Napoleonic gesture, cancelled a concert in “Enschede“-a factory village!
The second concert is not until Saturday, so that to-day (Thursday) I can live entirely according to my inclination. To this belongs, at the moment, the adaptation of ”Aladdin.” And yesterday I wrote two scenes straight down. I must, of course write out every word-which makes the task much greater-for I have to change a good deal and to condense and to express some things better…
AMSTERDAM, 7 October 1906.
Yesterday I gave the second concert and finished the 1st Act of Aladdin. The concert was one of those rarely fortunate ones, when every bar is successful in the way one wishes, new ideas come as one plays and immediately sound right, and the instrument is obedient. I may be deceived, but from beginning to end it seemed to me perfect and effortless in technique, at the same time free and full of swing. Old Daniel de Lange, when he spoke of the transition to the fugue (in the 106)  cried and kissed me vehemently. J., on the contrary, said it was a matter of taste and that “his” interpretation was different.
I answered rather violently that it was out of place to speak of a matter of taste in connection with such a mature performance. It should be listened to only.
As far as the Aladdin work is concerned, I am contented with it. There is a great unity now in the first act. It runs on a straight line and does not venture on “cross and crooked ways“ the simplicity of the ascending line will make one hold one’s breath.
Oehlenschläger’s book, under such close scrutiny, suffers from a womanly talkativeness; and, what I had already noticed, from a lack of mastery of the German language, and finally from too many details.
The homely details take up too much space, almost as they do in old Dutch art. The Mother is decidedly an old Danish woman. With the adaptation I dare let no word go by unexamined. I have only been able to keep a few lines exactly as they are in the original. Nevertheless the plan of the book is big and genial and worth the trouble….
 Sonata Op. 106 by Beethoven.
LONDON, 2 December 1906.
What a distance there is between the Adriatic coast and the English Channel! I have never observed such an enormous difference before. Here, fog, storm, cold - all the wintry devils together, and only the day before yesterday this summer sunset in Triest! I have such a horror of the crossing to Ireland - but Schultz - Curtius is immovable…
MANCHESTER, 4 December 1906.
…The whole character of the Harrison tour is disgraceful this time. Compared with this one, my tour with Ysaye was very good. Here in Manchester it is a little better, they know me, love me, and receive me well. Yet it is grand, always to have my own thoughts with me and to know that this year, and probably from now onwards, if I concentrate, I can accomplish something every minute. My mind is always active. But my body demands a little repose, for latterly everything has gone at a gallop.
I have such a longing for your letters, dear, dear Gerda; perhaps never before have I felt so happy and so together with you as now. And that will change no more; I feel so sure in everything now. In creation, too, I see straight on to the end of the “Zauberer;“ then, probably, the famous “third“ period will begin for me too, and I hope I shall be able to finish some of the work already begun.
I wonder what Bösendorfer said?
I am very much in favour of the Vienna  idea now; it might give me a kind of freedom for three years. For the next ten I certainly ought to be able to be rich! But it is good enough as it is too.
How beautiful it is that you take part in it all…
 Appointment as professor of the “Meisterklasse” at the Vienna School of Music.
EDINBURGH, 9 December 1906.
To-day was the first time that I have practised properly since - I don’t know when - and after such a long pianistic pause the 24 Preludes by Chopin had quite a special interest. Yesterday the concert was at 3, and so it was also the first free evening I had had for a long time; in fact it was the first time that I had been out at all in the streets. In Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham, I did not stick my nose out of the hotel. Finally your second letter came here, so that from every point of view I could see a piece of blue sky…
I am so beautifully alone here. Sarasate is in another hotel, some of the “Party” departed during Sunday. The town is always remarkable. Clouds are always moving behind the immovable silhouette of the old hill. Divisions of Scottish soldiers in red jackets, plaids and kilts, white gaiters which leave the hairy knee free, march past with bold step. The castle looks down on buildings belonging to 6 different centuries. Sunday is most holy here. This is like the other end of the Tries impressions…
EDINBURGH, 10 December 1906.
…Sarasate is a brainless man and without temperament too. But through others he has experienced an enormous amount, and he has been on terms of intimacy with the greatest, artists. That gives him a certain historical varnish.
He told me how he and Rubinstein sat at “Whist” in the hotel in Leipzig, on the evening of Gewandhaus-concert. A new symphony was to be played for the first time - by whom is forgotten - which Rubinstein did not wish to hear. About 10 o’clock people came from the concert into the hotel. “Well, what was the Symphony like?“ Rubinstein called out to the first visitor. “Oh, very musical.” “It’s damned then,” blustered Rubinstein and banged his fist on the table. “When Germans say a work is ‘musical,’ it is certain to be boring.”
…I have practised so much, that I feel it in my back. The 24 Preludes are not easy, but I am glad about this new number which is good…
ABERDEEN, 11 December 1906.
…The 24 by Chopin have given me very much to do. They do not sound so difficult, but they are not any easier than the Paganini-Variations. And they are so very varied in technique. One has to be able to spring about! But they will be an excellent addition. I am looking forward to the 21st in Berlin very much…
Still three Harrison tour evenings!
And then Adieu, for ever, to this gentleman!…
GLASGOW, 12 December 1906.
Always between a journey and a concert. I am sending you the criticism from Aberdeen, because it is the best which has been written about me in English. It is remarkable that, up there, in this small Scottish town, where I was playing for the first time, I was understood almost completely…
The Chopin Preludes have cost me round about 12 hours’ study in four days. Glasgow always reminds me of Chicago - so much so, that to-day I wanted to look for a cigar shop which, as I quickly remembered, is in America.
Sarasate said of César Franck - “He was a bad accompanist; he accompanied very badly. And they have made a god of him”…
BRADFORD, 13 December 1906.
What beautiful letters you write; what a lot of good they all have done me!…
I had a remarkable conversation with Sarasate to-day about music, which shows me clearly, that my essay has come too soon for most people. He is, it is true, 62 years old and was never a revolutionary, but he has been in the midst of good things all his life, and he might have absorbed them more like a sponge. He has some of Brodsky’s Olympic obstinacy and also some of my father’s way of dismissing things without any judgment: that is the Latin in him…
God be praised, at 10 o’clock to-day this tour is done with, and the company!
I shall come into my own waters again.
If one does something against one’s conviction, it only half succeeds, or does not succeed at all…
FREIBURG, 15 March 1907.
…Once more I have come to the end of an almost unbearable week and I regard these days (8-15 March) as thrown to the winds entirely. Marseilles is a town which has similarities with, but holds a subordinate position between, Madrid, Naples and Triest. With Triest the similarity lies in the position of the harbour in connection with the town and another one is the Mistral which is very much the same as the Bora. This dreadful wind visits the town every 2 months for 3-4 days and I had just the bad luck to meet it. Architecturally the town is hopeless. With regard to the landscape, in good weather it probably offers much that I did not see, because I was only able to hold on my hat and wipe my eyes continually…
Musically, they are ignorant there as they are in Naples, and they use the slogans from Paris. Pleasant atmosphere! The train back to Geneva got into Lyons precisely at the time when it should have arrived in Geneva, that is to say, 3 hours late. Impatiently I got out at Lyons. The colour of my first impression of the town was completely changed, for there was frost! wind and - consequently - empty streets. The next day I stopped in Geneva, after having taken 6 hours from Lyons to get there. From Geneva to Freiburg required another 8 hours. So there were three long journeys and deserts in between. Never again will I give concerts in exotic places! It was almost an improvement to-day, in this modest little town, to meet with a well-organized orchestra and to find a reasonable, if only an average, amount of understanding for my work…
MUNICH, 17 March 1907.
Yesterday, the 16th, I had a very strenuous day again; in Freiburg. The Mignon invited me to play once more. I had to practise well before I could do it and not till then! Well, I was in the factory from 12 till 8.30 and played Norma, Don Juan, Polonaise, Ruinen von Athen, and some small pieces, at one sitting. I was offered friendly and excellent hospitality before and after. Then I took the night train to Munich….
(Addressed to Drottningholm, near Stockholm)
BERLIN, 7 July 1907.
…In a voice shaking with excitement, a young student spoke to me in the street, in order to tell me about the great impression which my little book had made on him. It was very gratifying to see this susceptibility, devoted, and uncritical amongst the more intelligent kind of youth…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 13 July 1907.
…I am just completing one part of the Brautwahl. It was a bigger task than I thought it would be, and I could not master it more quickly because I have an invincible feeling that every bar must say something…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 14 July 1907.
…I shall enjoy no peace until some sections of my work have been cleared away. I shall go to Weimar about the edition of Liszt, at the end of July or beginning of August. That falls together very inopportunely with Norderney…
…Everything is going well - thank God - regularly and without disappointments or surprises. One cannot expect more in this life…
My head is full of ideas. But there is always room for thoughts about Gerda. I am looking forward to the “holidays later on” too - and shall welcome you in triumph.
I have been reading Béranger and have studied Part Two of the Trojans (by Berlioz). Both excellent.
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 17 July 1907.
I have just finished the last note of my act; now, at half-past-five. I am very happy, for it has gone just as I wished. Although it is raining I am going to fly out. To-morrow I shall make a survey of what I have to do and then decide on a plan… Now I must rest! I believe this Act is still better!…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 21 July 1907.
It is so cold and grey to-day one could think it was early November. But it is the 21 July; unfortunately a Sunday. For three days there has been no “rumbling” in my head but, as I expected, it has given up work.
To-day an amusing consent to come to Norderney has arrived from Egon, and Wolff has sent a list of my dates. The big groups, England, Switzerland and Holland, give the list a good shape. Italy is planned for April, then Paris, and in between, six times in Berlin…
As regards my plans now, I think I shall make use of the time next week by stopping here, because, 1st, I must make myself fresh again for Norderney as a pianist; 2nd, I must make a fair copy of the second Act of the Brautwahl.
Then come the journeys to Weimar and Norderney. Besides this, I decided the day before yesterday that from now on until it is finished I would concentrate my whole attention on the Brautwahl only, and this is very important.
I have not yet drawn up a list of the other things I have to do, for I have really taken a holiday the last three days. (I sleep like a child!) But I know that I must be in Vienna at the beginning of September (flat, and examinations) and on the 22 I must go to England. Thank God, that the pulse of life beats so fast; it spurs me on more than peace. I am healthy and contented, without being in very high spirits. Is the period of ripe maturity appearing at last? But a little bit of childishness remains in me which will not be “overawed!“…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 23 July 1907.
…A trial, which came to an end this evening, has interested me so much that yesterday evening, partly for practice and partly out of opposition, I, tried to find another explanation. I have really thought about it and written down my thoughts….
Why has one not got a head like Edgar Poe?! I have been almost worried by this thought the last few days, even though I may be a better musician and just as good an artist as he. Of course a good deal of it is due to practice.
Poe followed a similar crime step for step in his “The Mystery of Marie Roget“ which, many years later, was completely verified. This man Hau’s behaviour in the court of justice was admirably cool and consistent; he was much stronger than his judge. Another trial is bound to follow.
Now I am going to my work; the second Act (Part I) is a success…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 26 July 1907.
…It is still undecided about the journey to Weimar. How much I should like to have these four scanty days quite uncurtailed!
I count on every single day now, and with astonishment and almost fright I see the evening throwing out its sh1ows in advance, and swallowing the day. Life is not long enough and whizzes past, like the landscape seen through the window of a railway-carriage. Things which one has just seen go by lie far behind the next moment. And the distant horizon is reached just as quickly. Sometimes I have the feeling I will leave everything (all my occupations) in order not to feel this eternal “beginning afresh“ any more. But a void is still worse. Better a long and laborious road than no road at all, as in sand or ice deserts.
I have had some small pleasures, as for example, the book-bindings which are a success; and I read a very original story by Clemens Brentano (“Die mehreren Wehmüller oder die ungarischen Nationalgeschichter“); then Herkomer, who was passing through, brought me greetings from his friend Widemann (Widemann is the old sculptor at Bartolini’s)….
Bartolini told us about a very adventurous experience he had had in S. America. He promised a Jewish woman to accompany her back to her home, and he literally undertook the journey from Brazil far into Russia, and carried it through with false passports, in the depths of winter, and finally, on the way back, he got stuck in Berlin. He would have been a good man for Napoleon…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 28 July 1907.
It is an effort for me to practise the piano, yet one cannot leave it! It is like an animal, whose head always grows again, however much one cuts off. Composing, by comparison, is like going along a road which is more difficult but beautiful and changeable. One is always folding up long stretches of it, reaching stages further on and leaving them behind, and its final goal is unknown and unattainable.
I am glad that you find beauties in Hebbel. He always ponders over things and searches for them, but he seems to me to be one of the very best!…
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
BERLIN, 30 July 1907.
On the days when I get no letters from you I read the last one through again - and the last, for which I thanked you immediately, one can still read many times! Imagine, to-day I found a kind of “History of Berlin” which actually contains a picture, after an old engraving, of the “Execution des berüchtigten Hof- und Münzjuden Leuppoldt,” as well as a portrait of a “Leonhardt Thurneisser,” goldsmith from Thurn, in his 45th year (a beautiful face). The Jew’s portrait, too, is inserted in the picture of the execution; it shows a very clever head, sharp features, and almost Arabic character. They tortured him dreadfully and, unfortunately, after he had borne so many cruelties there could be no doubt about his death. As artists I love both these figures very much and, whilst I work, I am constantly adding little characteristic traits. I feel almost certain now that the Brautwahl will be effective. I am quite impatient, for instance, to show you “des geheimen Kanzleisekretär’s Thusmann unwahrscheinlichen Bericht” now it is finished.
Now this is done the form of the introduction to Act 2 is sketched out and, without further preliminaries, it starts off if with the waltz “Allegro vertiginoso.” On the whole I am well on with the piece. The libretto is dated as far back as June 1906….
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
NORDERNEY, I August 1907.
…It gives me a strange feeling being obliged to play in public again, after an interval of three months. I feel “shame” in doing it, more than ever.
I have a book with me, which promises very well. De Quincey’s “Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts,” and others by him. It must belong to the Poe-Baudelaire family. It was De Quincey who wrote the “Opium-Eater.”
I hope for a letter from you here. Your last, the golden one, I have got in my pocket-book.
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
NORDERNEY, 2 August 1907.
It is the morning after the concert. It went well. (Beethoven C Minor Concerto, Liszt’s Héroïde élégiaque an, Rakoczy-March, new)…
When I arrived here, the state of the atmosphere was just as it is at the beginning of the Flying Dutchman. I thought to myself: “It is not necessary to play the overture here. Nature plays it herself.”
I thought this as I went to the Kurhaus for the rehearsal and - the first sounds which I heard were those of the Flying Dutchman; the Orchestra was really playing it. And I was forced to admit that it was: “A good picture, a work of art, quite true to life.” 
What a pity, that in order to reach Weimar in time, I must leave at the very latest to-morrow…
The Fürstin Bülow, who remembers having seen me at Wertheimstein (she had to admit to the 24 years which have elapsed, whether she wanted to or not), has Sapellnikoff here every summer as guest…. They were both sweetness itself to me, in that masterly way understood by Southern Italians and Russians and with shamelessly exaggerated diplomacy.
The reading of the very original and witty de Quincey has continued through all these small happenings, like a thread joining many patches…
During the summer I examined my development and found that my progress has been great. As you know, I got beyond Schumann and Mendelssohn first of all, in my musical taste. Liszt I misunderstood at first, then I adored him, and then quietly admired him. I was antagonistic to Wagner, then astonished by him, and then the Latin in me turned against him again. Berlioz amazed me; and I learnt to distinguish between good and bad Beethoven - which was one of the most difficult things to do. I discovered the newest French composers for myself and dropped them when they became popular too quickly. Finally my soul felt drawn towards the old Italian opera writers.
Those are the changes which have taken place over a period of 20 years, and all through those twenty years the score of Figaro has remained unchanged in my estimation, like a lighthouse in surging seas.
But when I looked at it again, a week ago, I discovered human weaknesses in it for the first time; and my soul flew for joy when I realized that I am not so far behind it as I thought, in spite of this discovery being a real loss, and pointing to the lack of durability in all human activities; (and how much more in my own!)…
 Quotation from Busoni’s Brautwahl.
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
WEIMAR, 5 August 1907.
I arrived here on the morning of the 4th, and had a good five hours’ work with Obrist and von Hase….
Yesterday we went through every single Liszt volume, not to mention sketches, manuscripts and every possible fragment, some very interesting ones among them. They were both rather surprised at my professional knowledge about it all. There is a whole big symphonic Fantasy on themes by Berlioz for piano and orchestra, unprinted. I knew about it once, had looked for it, and then given it up.
The new theatre, from outside, is almost finished. The good old Grand Duke stands in front of the “Russische Hof Hotel“ - on horseback! - and dressed in military clothes. It is made in absolutely new bronze which looks quite impossible. All is silent in the Tempelherrenhaus.  It is so quiet altogether here that one is almost afraid of meeting a carriage!
The publication of Liszt’s collected works seems “fairly” determined on; but things still get hitched up here and there. Hase was very confidential with me and is more on my side than on that of the Commission.
I will write more soon.
Your last letter bestowed peace and brought happy news. I am really grateful to you, and quiet and happy. In myself, I believe I have never in my life been so unified, clear and conscious. All this added together is almost more than anyone has a right to lay claim to, compared with other people! And yet that is how it is, thank God….
 By the wish of the Grand Duke Carl Alexander (d. 1901), Busoni had held a master class for pianoforte-playing there in the months of August and September 1900 and 1901.
(Addressed to Drottningholm)
WEIMAR, 6 August 1907.
When I am in Berlin I know what to do with every hour, here there is nothing to do but to “look at the clock.” In addition to this the food is bad, drink below the ordinary, and consequently sleep not reposeful…
I brought no work with me (on purpose) but the result has not been good. My recreation lies in work and being at home. And I must follow this urge (I say this without any impetuosity). In September I have to begin travelling round again, and that lasts until the end of April at least. That is eight months. Wagner wrote once, “One morning without work is hell“ how much more so a week, or more. One cannot stop thought and it only makes one more restless, to think in the abstract. Writing it down makes an end of the whole trouble….
Egon was very “impressed” and in some ways touched by the Brautwahl. That made me very happy. Altogether you must not think that I am not happy; I repeat, that, during the whole of my life, I have never been in such a satisfactory state. My happiness almost overflows…. When Egon went over the German frontier, he had the Beethoven sonatas in his box, which were fished out at the customs.
“What is that?“ said the customs officer. “That is music, the Beethoven sonatas.“ - “Ah, those are the Beethoven sonatas,” said the customs officer and turned over the leaves. “As regards the interpretation,” he continued (as he gave back the volume), “there is nothing harder to play; and,” he added, (for he took Egon for an Englishman) “a foreigner cannot manage it; only a German can do it.” Is that not fit for Simplicissimus?!
I have read de Quincey’s “Murder as one of the Fine Arts” with increasing pleasure up to the end. It consists of three long essays, which were written over the space of 27 years! In the last one there are two of the most dramatic and clever descriptions of crimes that I have ever read. He starts from the supposition that a murder has taken place; and when the first impressions of confusion, shock, and sympathy are over, the public, as an amateur, reviews it with admiration and criticism. That is right…
He writes something like this, “The power that a person possesses is wonderful if he can pass lightly over scruples and fear and hold a nation in his hands.” That is right also….
The third essay is serious and inquisitorial, but the two first have a devilish wit….
N.B. I am very glad about the Liszt-edition, which will be a little masterwork. It has been arranged for my notes to be at the beginning and at the end.
BATH, 26 September 1907.
…The whole of musical England was assembled in Cardiff. Amongst those whom you know, for example, Cowen, Hervey, Dr. Elgar, and the dried-up Stock, whose Euterpe swings over Britannia and who begins to show some buds….
Old Bösendorfer, who is even a little younger than before, is building a grand for me with 8 octaves, and with a special damping adjustment. He is still an admirable, worthy old gentleman.
My classroom in Vienna overlooks the Karls-Kirche, which has always been the most beautiful picture in my recollection … Still more pupils have come. I wonder if they are good?…
I regret that I have no work with me, and on the other hand it is a good thing, perhaps. This trotting round the provinces is not very edifying. Moreover, I am losing many days…
I see there are going to be nine performances of my compositions this winter. I am glad about it. But first of all I rejoice in my home! Dear Gerda, to-morrow is our wedding day. Thank you for everything good and beautiful that you have given me, and together we must thank the destiny which brought us together and has kept us together till now. I sincerely regret that we shall not be able to pass the day together, but many happy ones will follow.
BOWDON, 30 September 1907.
…I was very warmly welcomed here and feel that I am amongst really understanding friends,  but my longing for home will not be quieted… It was very stupid of me to bring no work for I should be glad just to turn it over in my mind. In labore requies - Repose in work - was Liszt’s motto, but only work which is of interest…
 Egon Petri and his wife.
BARROW-IN-FURNESS, 3 October 1907.
This time I have traversed a somewhat more friendly part of England. Bath makes a pretty impression, with the beautiful distant hills all round it as background, and its croked ancient nooks, its tasteful Empire buildings, little surprises everywhere; old bookshops and a magnificent hotel of an exceptionally English brand. The town offered me a pleasant forenoon (the morning after the concert). In Bristol my hotel was in a magnificent position for viewing the country. There is a suspension bridge (in Clifton), built in heroic style over a deep abyss; it is very high and from it one can see far into the valley of the river on both sides. Here too, in Barrow, it is almost rural; the last hour of the journey by the edge of the shore was quite romantic.
On the way, in driving past, I noticed a sheep dog guiding a flock, which was divided into two groups. The animals had eaten their fill, and now had to be driven home. The dog had much to do, for scarcely had he incited the foremost group to go in the required direction, when he was obliged to think of the other group, run back, and begin again from the last row. He did it with so much cleverness and good humour. It made me think of the Berlin policemen, but the comparison was very much to the latter’s disadvantage.
VIENNA, 16 October 1907.
…The level [of my class] is about as high (“high“ is good) as my future class in Moscow. There is scarcely one with whom I can converse about a picture, a book, or any human question. If one draws a comparison from psychology, aesthetics, or from nature, it meets with no understanding. All I can teach here is fingering, pedalling, piano and forte and rhythm. The little, ugly Russian, who came and cried the last time in Berlin, is quite a cultivated person compared with the rest!…
VIENNA, 17 October 1907.
…My little room in the school building has become quite cosy.
I have hopes of finding a flat in the Schotten Hof Hotel…
The “Schotten Hof” is that big, formal building which overlooks an open space and is very close to the “Schottenkirche”… as a child I played to Liszt in this house; he lived there with a cousin.
VIENNA, 19 October 1907.
To-day is the most beautiful day there has been this year, and, thank God, I am free; I will enjoy it to the full. But first I must write a greeting and some thoughts to you; then I shall wander to the Conservatorium and attend to some small business matters and (if nothing keeps me) I shall walk round afterwards with the excuse of looking for a flat, and, finally, have lunch in this!! weather in the Volksgarten restaurant. Every morning, at breakfast, I get the “Neue freie Presse.”…
I have discovered that the ruin of the Viennese (as regards their relation to art) has its roots in the “Feuilletons“ - This systematic, daily reading of witty, superficial and short discussions on art, sharpened to a point by current catchwords, which has been going on for half a century, has amongst the Viennese destroyed their own power of seeing and hearing, of comparison and thinking, and every kind of thoroughness. There is something of the Parisian in these little Viennese, in their pleasure-seeking, and their “superiority,” and in their hunt for sensation; and, as with the Parisians, it is often the cause of their coming to grief. The women, too, remind one of the women of Paris rather than those of London or Berlin; there are so many who are “pure animals of luxury” amongst them; you know what I mean. One sees many of the “belle-femme” type here too. Such women as those in the Gomperz family are really an exception!… An air of old-fashioned distinction, which has come down from the salons of 1830, is very characteristic of this place.
Nowhere does one see so many “carriages” in one small place, and the cabs play at being private carriages. They swing along with an air of festive ceremony: one always has the feeling of being driven to a court soirée. This snobbish trampling of horses is only to be heard in Vienna, and it is a significant fact that every house, every courtyard, every pavement, is arranged to allow for a carriage entrance….
Your letter yesterday did me so much good - and a new one has just come. What a good thing I had not gone out. Unfortunately, it is very short (and it looked so fat !)…
VIENNA, 21 October 1907.
…The Conservatorium air penetrates through the cracks of the door into my class-room; I wrote this to Mama some days ago. Her answer was astonishingly sensible, and affectionate.
I have visited nobody yet. I had one pleasant evening on Saturday; at the opening of a new cabaret, fitted up by the best painters, architects, and decorators of this country. I sat at the same table with some of these young artists, who were very intelligent and fearfully zealous. Klimt belongs to them too…
I thought of writing aphorisms about piano-playing…
The first thing that occurred to me is:
Before everything there must be technique. It must help to hide the difficulties. The difficulties must be hidden, in order that the musical thread, of which the player holds one end and the listener the other, may remain taut. The inserted Cadenza should sound like a parenthesis after which the music takes up its course on the same note on which it was left…
VIENNA, 22 October 1907.
…Yesterday evening, after the lesson, I took three of the men students with me to supper, in order to form some kind of contact with them. It was nice… I see nobody, even in the Conservatorium. The people will be very hurt, but they must get used to it. Yesterday the class was somewhat better (the sixth lesson): the people begin to have an inkling of the standard required. The worst pupils are these little Viennese girls (I have known them from my childhood, the type is still the same)… who play everything, no matter what, and because it goes half-way, as they have it in their ears more or less, they think that they can play it. This is the reason why that kind of piano talent is so inexpert, for they have no system.
They say Beethoven is difficult to play and Liszt only virtuosity. But, “believe just the contrary.”  For one can always recognize a piece by Beethoven; but you should hear what a Sonnet, or even a study by Liszt sounds like! It is impossible to understand what is happening when they play anything like that here…
 Standing phrase of his Russian pupil, Gregor Beklemischeff.
VIENNA, 24 November 1907.
I have just finished “Turandot’s Frauengemach,” now only the “Erscheinung” has to be done… On the 8th Sauret plays here (my concerto). Shall I stop on this account?
In the train between Wiesbaden and Vienna I read “The Devil’s Disciple.”  The impression was very mixed, but yet arresting. The first act is absolutely “Dickens.” The conversation with a general, from the gallows, seems very improbable. It has everything of the novel about it. But in such stirring times - !
 By Bernard Shaw.
VIENNA, 1st December 1907.
I am writing a few lines to you quickly in order to tell you that I have just (7.30 - Sunday) finished the 5 Piano pieces.  Only a clean copy has to be made now. The last one, “Erscheinung,” is certainly the most remarkable.
 The “Elegies.”
VIENNA, 3 December 1907.
…As regards Galston’s playing of Liszt, I am glad of his success. If one has penetrated into Liszt’s style, his work always sounds better for the instrument than that of any other composer… One does not abuse Berlin. Who and what has not got faults? One ought to judge things and people according to their good characteristics…. The Viennese cannot get away from comparing everything with the past.
The so-called “Wiener Werkstätte“ for applied arts is a progressive circle. I have got to know Klimt, an extremely simple, very clever-looking man, almost like a peasant….
VIENNA, 16 December 1907.
To-day I shall have finished the Sonnet.  When this is done I have decided, for many reasons, to leave the rest of them alone.
First: both the others are so alike - the same key, the same arpeggio accompaniment - that having done the first I consider that the problem of the three is solved. It is also the biggest and richest in variety. I believe it will sound well and be very effective.
Secondly: I can do no more: I must have a rest or the next three months will kill me…
I hope you are convinced and that you agree…
Yesterday evening (in order to know!) I decided I would hear Madame Butterfly. It began at seven o’clock. The ticket cost 14 Kronen; at 20 minutes past seven exactly I was out again. I went for a walk, had something to eat and went back again for the last act. It is indecent.
I shall never learn to understand the public. It will swallow boredom, monotony, and unreality as if they were liquid pearls.
There was no applause at the end, certainly, but the theatre was sold out. And rich, self--satisfied, smiling Jews came back to the Bristol, charmed.
The people are taken in by the Japanese decorations and the naval officer in modern uniform…
 Liszt’s Petrarca-Sonnet, ”Pace non trovo,” orchestrated by Busoni.
VIENNA, 17 December 1907.
It is a good thing that, for the present, I have wound up my work with the Sonnet, which I have sent off to you to-day, finished in manuscript. I am almost painfully fatigued, but very contented with the result of this blessed year 1907….