VIENNA, 14 January 1908.

I am writing to you, just in order to be with you for a moment; to say that there’s nothing- - nothing to tell you. Here everything goes round in the well-known circle… It is just as if one were living in the year 1884, which was when I first tasted all these joys, only then the Hanslick Feuilleton came out once a week, on a certain day, like market day in little towns, and Rubinstein was playing.
Ibsen has given me the greatest pleasure - John Gabriel Borkman seems to be simply unsurpassable and perhaps his greatest book. The only part of “Klein Eyolf” that pleased me - now, is the end: the rest of it distressed me. I say me and now. For I see more and more clearly that there is no absolute greatness and value: everything is as it appears to one at the moment. And it is only by the impressions which change least with time that one can have any judgment as t what is great or less great…

VIENNA, 16 January 1908.

The first successful attempt to fly (Flugversuch) has been made: not accidentally; without a balloon; with mechanism only.
This, first of all, is a definite answer to Leonardo’s question, and it answers too the questions and expectations of the whole world. This seems to be a more suitable and worthy theme with which to open my letter, rather than with that of the also not unsuccessful attempt to play the piano (“Flügelversuch“) which I made yesterday evening in the big Musikverein Hall of the “Kaiserstadt.”
Every day I regret that you are not with me; the Bösendorfer was brilliant; Göllerich found the Todtentanz perfect. After the concert, at the Green Anchor, there was pleasant company: Schalk, Botstiber, Dr. Schenker, Galston, and the best pupils, who adore me (I only say it from pleasure)…
Really it was a Début again! Nobody knew how I played and the directors of the conservatorium were quite nervous as to what impression “their professor” would make. The recital will certainly put the “dots on the i’s“…
I am well - only tired and with a little too much in my head.
I have been very much stimulated by Ibsen. With him the women are always the spokesmen. The men corroborate them with a miserable echo. Hedda Gabler is now perfectly clear to me and could not be otherwise than she is.
I shall be glad when I can freely follow my own thoughts again : I believe much that is good is still to come…
If only it were May again!…
The Wiener Tageblatt brought out a splendid article about Gerhardt Hauptmann’s newest work. I took the liberty of sending it to him, with a few words on my own account.

LONDON, 3 March 1908.

The enclosed letter
[1] went to Vienna to-day. Have two copies made, and send one to Bösendorfer and one to the “Neue Freie Presse” and keep the original.


You have, without any attempt to come to an understanding, hurled a “dismissal“ at me, completely out of the blue.
Without taking into any account the possibility of a reply from my side, you have made public a one-sided, and for me, almost slanderous representation, of the affair which is still not fought out. You have gone still further by announcing my successor - also publicly.
Herr Director Bopp - instead of referring to me - has examined and chosen my pupils for a public performance, completely ignoring my proposals and opinions, which alone are decisive here.
In addition to this I wish to make the following remarks:
I believe, if your displeasure really arose out of interest for the master class, that you would have shown a practical proof of this, if you had paved the way to an understanding with me before having recourse to a drastic resolution.
You should have expressed a wish or even made a demand for the modification of the plan made by me.
This would have been the first step towards promoting the welfare of the institution. And you would have found me ready to do my utmost to agree to such an understanding, because the artistic success of my pupils lies near to my wishes and to neglect the duties I have undertaken lies absolutely far from them.
I still adhere to my opinion that it is out of the question to break a contract before the end of the school year - (I was and am absolutely resolved to make good the complete number of lessons and to be responsible for the artistic result) - and a friendly word of reconciliation from you would have been able, too, to check the irregularities which happened against my wish.
This would have been - I repeat - the most practical, most human, and most correct procedure for the welfare of the master class this year. The announcement in the press of your thoroughly immature decision, however, did not correspond to those attributes; apart from misrepresentation of facts, which came about through dealing with them publicly, and against which, here in a distant country, I could not defend myself.
In view of all these considerations the announcement of a successor was tactless.
For that reason I declare that I am the one who has suffered injustice and I protest against it openly.
In spite of this I am trying once more - because of the deep interest I feel for my pupils, who have become very dear to me, and for the preservation of my honour - to propose a settlement to you in a friendly form, which is that you will allow me to continue and finish this school year.
I am convinced that this is the only way in which to protect your own interests and the welfare of the pupils, and in part to remove an injustice which has been done to me.
If you agreed to this I should arrive in Vienna on the 14th of March and be there for a week, and after that devote myself without interruption to my office, from the 21st April until the end of the school year.
May I ask you to telegraph to me here on the 6th or 7th of the month.

[1] To the Directors of the Conservatorium.

VIENNA, 15 April 1908.

It is already past three and I am not out of the house yet; I have been working so eagerly. A happy week!… There is an unusual, delightful young man here, hardly 20, the son of the great artist-photographer Hanfstaengl in Munich. He has such a genuine, pure nature, and is simple, witty and intelligent. His taste in art, especially, is astonishingly developed. Benni should get to know him - he would be an excellent friend for him. These Hanfstaengls still stick close to all the painters (from Lenbach onwards)…

VIENNA, 27 April 1908.

As the train approached Vienna early this morning, I had a feeling of youth and of everything just beginning. It was like a reminiscence of that journey, 25 years ago, when I came as a guest to Döbling. My flat here is behind the Wallfischgasse and is roomy and agreeably habitable… There were wonderful pots of flowers set out to welcome me. Frau Pollhammer, my landlady, is a very respectable and good woman, rather more distinguished than Liszt’s “Baulline,” but very like her and although she is very friendly she is rather managing…
Everybody in Vienna knows that I am here. The story, even if a nasty one, is of no importance. Do hot take everything so hard, dear Gerda, the world is like this and it is a great honour (?) if one is talked about at all, even in a bad way.
Egon’s letter about it was most refreshing, like an answer of protest…

VIENNA, 30 April 1908.

…The old friends Thusmann and Leonhard Turnhäuser awake from their winter sleep, shake themselves, yawn, and turn around once more, before they get up…
Then between whiles I think of my adopted child, the Liszt edition and a preface for it…
How do you like this sentence (about Liszt) ?
“ - his change from demon to angel - from the first Bravour-Fantasy ‘Sur la Clochette,’ (a devilish suggestion of Paganini’s) up to the childlike mysticism of the ‘Weihnachtsbaum,’ in which that final naïveté, which is the fruit of all experience floats over, strangely, to a ‘better land’ “…
In Italy by chance I bought a book “Quanto mi pare” by a Giuseppe Brunati. “Selon mon caprice” would have been a better title for it. It really means despotism. It is a good book, the language excellent, lively in thought and unusual in material.
The hero is the last of a race of magnificent and horrible little tyrants in the time of the Renaissance. The sharp mind, cruelty and despotism of the Borgia type still bloom in his degenerate body and constitute a remarkable contrast to the new Italy.
Fragments from his family chronicle are recounted, and show up what was monumental, even if barbaric, in the old oppressors, in contrast to the colourless mass of present-day democracy. “The genius of rulers” is praised; a race which has died out. A subject like that suits me now.
The type of the ruling Genius seems to have changed and to have passed over to the American industrial kings. Their people are the harassed workers, their conquests great speculations, which can often save or ruin a whole country.
I have betaken myself to a voluntary “exile,” I see that now- -
If only I can get into the right “mood.”
Teaching has the relative advantage of keeping my piano-playing fresh…

VIENNA, 4 May 1908.

…A monument to Brahms is to be unveiled on the 7th, to which ceremony I am invited. Italian opera is to be given too, only 4 performances, amongst them Rigoletto and Don Giovanni. I think I shall go - that is exactly the kind of food I require, and perhaps it will make the Brautwahl flow again. It has not exactly stuck, but I have to push it, and it is only quite right when one is pushed by it.

5 May.

…Thusmann is already wailing cat’s music to the frog spawn. Yesterday (Monday) there were lessons. You see, I try to get something done…

VIENNA, 8 May 1908.

…Nothing could have less atmosphere than the ”unveiling” [of the Brahms monument]. Some very dry “cappella-chöre” by the master were sung… A forest of black umbrellas which intercepted a colourless speech.
Brahms sits comfortably and thoughtfully - it’s very like him - on a pedestal which looks like cement but is really cheap marble. Below, on the left, lies (!!!) a Muse with a common cabaret face, who plucks at a lyre which also is lying on the steps - an unsuccessful figure…
Amongst other things, Freund writes to me: “The reason why your work is more difficult to understand is that your harmony is much richer than that of Debussy; for instance, once one finds out the latter’s peculiar tonality everything is extremely simple; but in your work, the harmony is the outcome of the melody, or rather, of the musical thought.”

VIENNA, 9 May 1908.

…I was at work, have composed 7 pages without a break, it went excellently. Everything thought out yesterday in the street. Hope to be able to tell more to you soon…

VIENNA, 17 May 1908.

Rigoletto! I only heard the opera once before, in my earliest childhood, perhaps when I was about nine. I can still remember my Mother relating the story to me (adapted for the young), one evening, in the via Geppa, at Triest. The impressions made by the first Festmusik, the whispered Raub-Chor (Entführung) and the wind in the storm, which is made by men’s voices behind the stage, were unforgettable and remained with me until I reached manhood. It was not many years ago - perhaps four - that I saw the piano score for the first time. I still had the Festmusik and the whispered chorus firmly in my memory.

VIENNA, 19 May 1908.

…The Brautwahl has progressed still further, I have never worked so easily. I have written and written, in order to hold on to it; and shall then revise the whole. I found Rigoletto yesterday without atmosphere; it was much too much “sung”; for example, the duet with Sparafucile (called Saltabadil by Victor Hugo) which is like an etching between a row of coloured pictures, did not produce a “shiver,” as it should. The heavy oak doors bellied like sails in the wind. The costumes were typically of the operatic kind, such as Caran d’Ache and other caricaturists like so much to portray. The truth is that I had made an ideal for myself as to what the music and the performance should be like and yesterday’s representation never agreed with it.
Now there is still Don Giovanni to hear and then I come home…

VIENNA, 19 May 1908.

For 2 days I have been pursued by an idea, stronger than any previous ones; that, as the natural result of quite fifteen years’ development, I must write an Italian opera!
It seems to me now to be the right thing to do, and were it possible, I would gladly give up all the Meyrinks, Shaws and Gobineaus [1] for it. I feel that my style will unfold and come into full bloom there, for the first time, and I shall reach he place where I ought to be.
The question of a libretto is a difficult one. I thought of Boito, and of Italian short stories, witty ones, but it is safer to take a ready-made stage figure (such as Falstaff). Goldini is no good. Gozzi, hardly, but perhaps - there is very much to think about here too. Perhaps you will write about it…

[1] Refers to opera plans.

VIENNA, 31 May 1908.

The 5 hours’ travelling and playing were a bad cure for the nervous condition I was in yesterday.
When I got out at the so-called Berlin station at Leipzig, I went straight to the Phonola… Then, by the time I had played the programme for the settled fee, played an encore, written out a testimonial, signed two photographs, listened to Godowsky and myself in the machine, and also sat for a photograph “at the Phonola” it was 4.30, round about six hours since I had left the Anhalter Bahnhof.
This, combined with the “oppressive” weather, produced headache. The testimonial that I was asked to sign was already typed and read as follows: “I regard the ‘DEA’ as the crown of creation.” I said nobody would believe it, and, of course, wrote one of my own.
I almost wished I was stopping in Leipzig, and I even saw a poster which promised a brilliant “May festival in the Palm Garden.” At eight o’clock I was so tired that I looked upon a seat in a first-class carriage in the train as Paradise; whereas the idea of waking in Leipzig on a Sunday morning struck me as something very unpleasant. So I made a quick decision and took the train to Vienna - and I have not regretted it…

VIENNA, 16 June 1908.

…I sweat over my little love duet - to-day it begins to “dawn.” Night reigned on Sunday and Monday. I comfort myself with Flaubert - he tormented himself. How does the theory of genius and ease hold good in his case? This older edition of ”St. Antony” is quite different from the last; and it, too, is the revision of a youthful work. It took him 25 years to do the three versions, from 1849-74! When he read the first edition to his friends he said to them beforehand, “If you don’t shout with enthusiasm, nothing can move you.” The reading aloud lasted four days, after which the friends, tired out, said to him: “We think you ought to throw that into the fire!” The book then lay fallow for seven years, and was then rewritten to his satisfaction. Only the scandal and the law-suit against “Madame Bovary” gave him the courage to publish the second St. Antony. This second is the one I am reading now. The third and “last edition“ comes 18 years later, completely different.
That Mozart should have written Don Giovanni in 6 months makes one ashamed of one’s slowness; and Flaubert’s 25 years of labour give one pricks of conscience about one’s rapidity.
Never, never, can one set up a rule when it is a question of art. Every stroke of the pen demands its own conditions…. In new works one avoids the old mistakes but makes new ones again, because the problem is always changing… With the beginning of every new thing one is timid and awkward again…

VIENNA, 18 June 1908.

The trouble was in the text. The ”sitting for the portrait“ had to go, it would have torn the threads. Now the duet is finished! Everything runs on wheels now. The form very rounded off again. Thusmann has just entered unexpectedly and uttered his horrified “But!“ in falsetto. Now there are still three pages of text to complete the act…
“St. Antony” is interesting. What a good ballet could be made from Brueghel’s pictures of “The Temptation of St. Antony.” From some such painting Flaubert must surely have got his first impulse. I believe it is a colossal theme for a ballet! If one had time! If I were only 10 years younger!
Perhaps you can write a few lines every and day so that question and answer alternate…
To-day is Corpus Christi, the 18th June 1908.

VIENNA, 23 June 1908.

This letter was written for myself only and not sent.


Your remark, that I was too serious a man to write a comic opera, made me think over it. To me it sounds like censure, but as I know you meant no such thing at the moment, I must attribute it to a disparity in our ideas of what seriousness is. I feel much more seriousness in humour than in tragic “Spanpanaderin.” To me, the Meistersinger is more serious than Cavalleria; Figaro more serious than the Prophet; Leporello is the creation of a more serious mind than Fides; Don Quixote more profound than the “Kampf um Rom.” Lack of humour in a poet is just as bad a sign as an exaggeration of the pathetic, as in Victor Hugo.
Only psychological tragedy suits Beethoven; his handling of a tragic situation is quite dull. A tragic situation requires a conflict between at least two people, whilst a psychological one takes place in a single person. Beethoven would have been the man for a higher kind of comic opera. Aphoristically: Humour is the blossom from the tree of seriousness. One sees it in Shakespeare and in Ibsen. Therefore it would be pretentious of me to write a comic opera.

VIENNA, 27 June 1908.

…I believe that most people are natural: also that an inclination towards “dissembling“ is natural. By “natural” people you mean those who are most like you, in your own being. Who are clever without being designing, and not literary in speech, and who have a certain big current of feeling. But Frau B is very natural; yet if you were to think and write in her way, you would dissemble. Ysaye’s pose is his true nature (which you cannot bear). A storyteller must go through an endlessly long and complicated row of exercises in dissembling before he reaches artistic naturalness. How could Balzac describe 4,000 people correctly - of whom, perhaps, only ten bear any resemblance to himself - without dissembling? A born criminal, who lives virtuously, is unnatural, a Jesuit. Naturalness is a great strength and for that reason is to be admired. Weaker people (that is to say, most people) on account of conditions, education, and interests, are obliged to practise dissembling. Unnaturalness is often the wish to imitate a certain ideal, for want of a character of one’s own.
And finally I believe that only someone quite alone and quite free can be quite natural; and who is placed in such a favourable situation ?
The day before yesterday, Thursday, at the end of a strenuous class, Kapff came and detained me for another two hours, with the most pessimistic bankrupt kind of conversation. I can’t help it, but I can’t have anything to do with people who have finished with life. Digging into the past is repulsive to me; either one has done something which one could never do better, or which one could do better now. Either thought is irritating. I felt neither friendship nor sympathy for Kapff. I should have liked to make him a present of a revolver. It is the first time I have felt so hard. Is that bad?…
Yesterday I finished off the first three acts of the Brautwahl.
It is exactly two years since the day on which I finished the text. In Vienna I wrote 80 pages of the piano sketch. Now only the final scene is wanting…

VERONA, 9 September 1908.

One could weep over the condition of this country. The sun shines down perpendicularly, and dazzles and oppresses, without cheering. The people, idle and careless, curious and unfriendly gather together and criticize passing strangers. On the steps of beautiful palaces the poor people sleep like animals. The shops are closed most of the day, barricaded with shutters and locks. The women, uneducated, and without taste, look neither to the right nor to the left, and only betray a lack of naïveté…

“O Italia, Italia mia,
O fosti tu men bella
O almen più forte !”

VERONA, 9 September 1908.
(Second letter)

…In the evening I went to Parona, a pretty, extremely old patch of houses by the river, wonderfully situated. There I enjoyed the sunset, the rising of the moon in a crystal-clear sky, and eating and drinking out of doors… The heat still flourishes. I feel well, pleasantly lonely. Think of you with love always.

VERONA, 9 September 1908.
(Third letter)

The towns are corpses, but the country is alive. The best example: Siena. I wonder, too, whether the towns have gone backwards, or if they have stood still since the Renaissance? I almost think the latter. In the life of the public anyhow… Looked at closely, these old buildings are not better than ours of to-day. With few exceptions, the majority of them are quite ordinary. A heresy! But in Italy the modern buildings are bad. I believe - and the idea is really good - that, as in music, not the theme but the co-operation of all the means in the composer’s mind constitutes its value; so, too, the “charm“ of Italy exists in an infinity of coinciding conditions. And the charm is there. When you come out of the theatre in the evening, as I did to-day, and see the “motionless“ beauty of the sky outside, in contrast to the sham lighting on the stage; the houses tinted red by the glow from the lamps below, silhouettes vanishing round corners and disappearing into inconceivable nooks, the moon triumphing above the fantastic shapes of roofs, and the singing one has heard inside making the consciousness of the quietness more acute - all this is nothing and yet more than it is elsewhere.
Dear Gerda: a great idea dawned on me this morning. I should like to give this Italy a national opera, as Wagner gave one to Germany, and which the Italians have not got yet. I feel that I can do it, and that it will be my life’s work… Mozart could have been the Italian classic, but they scarcely know of him here. I shall think it over well…

MILAN, 13 September 1908.

…I have been considering Italian women a little, and have come to the conclusion that their behaviour is the result of their lack of male relationships. They only know their brothers and uncles; the harmless uncle, the terrifying uncle, the comical uncle. If, occasionally, they meet their brothers’ friends, then certain themes and certain expressions are eliminated from the conversation. By brothers and uncles they are treated like children, and by friends with a formality which always produces the same tone. But with the exception of these contacts men just remain in categories for them. For them, there are men who are “sympathetic,” “handsome,” “worthy of respect,” and “dangerous “- all from hearsay, and the existence of men remains a legend in their girlish dreams which takes on some kind of untrue shape. The women only talk amongst themselves, and the circle of talk turns like the hand of a clock round the figures. In connection with the enjoyment of travel in Italy, I find these conditions where “femininity” is left out most oppressive. And how much of it should I get out of a visit to Frl. F or Frau G here? Worse than nothing.
But these are only reflections “in between,” so to speak, for I have thought of other things; for example, I have written down my ideas about Chopin. Further, I have read a biography of Leonardo which - dry as it was - -stimulated me very much. I must finish reading the Mereschkowsky book one day. I thought that he (Leonardo) might give me the wished - for figure for my Italian opera. The historical background of the Sforzas is big and one could make Leonardo the central figure of the action, like Hans Sachs in the “Meistersinger.” The episodes, when he arranged the festivities at the court of the Sforza and invented many clever mechanical devices for them, are quite reminiscent of the role of Faust in the puppet play by Herzog von Mantova, which Goethe also used in the second part of Faust. The milieu, principally Milan, seems to me to be suitable and rich. I shall think more about it…
But first of all, the Brautwahl. To-night I go to Basle, where I expect to find a letter at last!…

LONDON, 5 November 1908.

…The sea was as smooth as a mirror, and it was a mild night. In the end, we arrived “before time.” The first immediate impression of London this time was not very pleasant; I only saw a collection of quite small things - (like certain long symphonies which are composed in four--bar phrases) - I found Vasari’s essay on Leonardo quite touching, beautiful in language and feeling, although quite poor biographically. Mereschkowsky’s book, too, has good things in it (as, for examile, the diary by Giovanni Boltraffio) ; as a work of art it is not bold or connected enough, but full of good intentions. Leonardo’s figure and epoch become more and more important in my eyes; they seem to me to give the most worthy national subject. I shall stick to this idea and try to build up a new and more perfect kind of theatre music. I should like, then, to work at it very conscientiously for, perhaps, five years. For I feel that a riper, more independent person has been formed in me, in the way that new teeth grow behind the still firm and healthy front ones. There is an abundance of material in the subject. How worthy of love such a subject is! I must know still more about it before I begin. How beautifully Leonardo himself says, “Love is knowledge of a thing; the deeper the knowledge, the more powerful the love.”…

LONDON, 8 November 1908.

I have taken the book by the cultivated barbarian, Mereschkowsky, too much to heart. It became less and less possible for me to read it as literature - especially towards the end (in spite of the author’s praiseworthy efforts, it often reminds one of Baedeker) - nor to regard it as a possible source for my own plan which is just beginning to dawn; but it increased the strong feeling I already have for Leonardo. Perhaps I was mistaken when I thought that, in this figure, I saw some similarities with my own much smaller one. It plunged me into a feeling of almost despairing sadness. I am still under this impression to-day, and it seems to be grotesque to be obliged to dress up in order to play two old pieces in that miserable, large, round, Albert Hall. Altogether this English tour promises much moral misery, and it makes an ugly picture. One sees oneself constantly beginning afresh, with old tricks, and getting older all the time.
I am still young enough to begin something quite new, but I can see no end to it all, and I rack my tired brain to find a way out.
Perhaps it is wrong to pass on this mood to you, but to whom shall I talk if not to you? To suppress it is difficult. I should like to catch hold of a bit of the coming art of music, and where possible, sew a seam in it myself. I feel more and more clearly that in the future all our present chirping will be defined as a “prehistoric” epoch. It can only be hoped that mankind, before it is too late, may turn away from this stupid urge towards quickness, excessive bigness and possessions, so that great artists may still arise. It is a bad omen for the future that types should exist like R.S. who (even in his art) is a cross between an artist and an industrialist. And yet I almost think that in the new big music machines will be necessary too, and will be assigned a share in it. Perhaps industry, too, will bring forth her share in the artistic ascent.

“There will be wings.”

With this prophecy of Leonardo’s, which is just beginning to be true in our day, I close more hopefully…

NEWCASTLE, 10 November 1908.

…Life here is horrible, grey and joyless… Everything sleeps in me, but at the same time I dream unquietly of unattainable things, big works, beautiful countries - and Rest!…

LONDON, 17 November 1908.
(In the train from London to Leeds)

…Lately, in albums, I have often come across my signature in the year 1901 and I have rejoiced over the progress I have made since then… The most active musical life is to be found in London - and Berlin - but there is only reproduction….

MANCHESTER, 20 November 1908.

Your little letter arrived in the artists’ room here, and produced its good effect. The concert passed off satisfactorily. Richter has given the Directors to understand that he is not so young as he was 5 years ago and can no longer do the whole work. But he promised to provide a deputy himself. This is no other than Cosima’s son-in-law who conducted yesterday. In the meantime the “tired” Richter took a theatre rehearsal in London! The wife of the new conductor is Cosima’s daughter Isolde… This woman, who already has white hair, looks beautiful, good and refined. She was very friendly towards me: told me that Frau Cosima had heard with much joy and gratitude of how much I had done for Liszt’s compositions, and that she sent me her greetings. That was a beautiful reward for me…
The previous evening Kubelik played here, with Landon Ronald… Kubelik, at a distance, looks like Beethoven, and near to, like Director Reinhardt of the Deutsches Theater. He is small and slender, like Galston. I heard him for the first time and was astonished to find how little there is of anything sensational in this violinist’s playing: it is on the contrary rather conscientious and monotonous and not very attractive. Who can understand the public?…
It is difficult, in the midst of a hundred silly little cares, to find the right mood for completing the Brautwahl, but I never let the work go quite out of my thoughts…

LONDON, 23 November 1908.

…You must have sent the newspaper cutting chiefly on account of the grotesque Chinese Emperor story. But Sardou’s disclosures about Dante on the same sheet were remarkable. Machiavelli is not quite to be trusted - he was (in spite of his powerful intellect) a little the same type as my father. I am just reading A. France’s new book “L’Ile des Pingouins,” in which he makes a very ironical attack on history. As it is impossible to make an exact picture of a person long dead (even about contemporaries one learns nothing true), it is best for the public to form an ideal for itself which is uplifting, and in this way it will believe in something beautiful.
Legends seem to me to show the hidden urge towards perfection…


TRIEST, 12 January 1909.

Yesterday, sea and sky were radiant, blue and yellow; everything moved, fluttered and blew in the fresh wind. To-day it is quiet and grey. Beautiful as Triest is there is something in the atmosphere that is not noble; big new thoughts could never originate here, and it oppresses even those who are gifted. I was afraid to come here - meanwhile Mama is out of danger and Papa gets better slowly…. This time it is bad for me in Austria altogether. I can seldom be happy here. It has too much against it in all sorts of ways and, in addition, these stale memories… I have had another vexation too. Two unknown Italian gentlemen have published a drama,”Leonardo da Vinci“ !! It is true it is a miserable concoction; but my idea is deflowered and profaned. Am very sorry…

VIENNA, 13 January 1909.

…I have come back feeling really sad. I become more and more solitary and am glad if nobody knocks at my door in the hotel. Occupation I can always find. To-day I have done all kinds of things, amongst others I have sent a clean copy of the piano piece [1] to Paris…

[1] Nuit de Noël.

VIENNA, 14 January 1909.

…I received your dear letter in Triest, it did me so much good… The sight of both my parents in bed with a folding screen between them, becomes a more and more vivid picture in my memory. Papa is like a child of three and if for two minutes nobody stands beside his bed, he begins to scream… He is terribly pale, keeps his head very bent, and can hardly see anything any more - The doctor, compassionate nurse, and an indescribably ugly maidservant, take it in turns to be with them. The cousins have given themselves endless trouble, especially Carolina (she is living in Triest again), whose dexterity and patience are beyond price. The weather is miserable. In spite of that, there is a kind of springlike feeling in me which will not be kept down…

LYON, 16 February 1909.

…Lyon is more beautiful than Milan and nobody knows me here. Unfortunately it is a severe winter, frost and snow. Bordeaux is not an uninteresting town. But the level of culture (if one comes from Paris) is very primitive and provincial. The art of “beau parleur” is highly esteemed. Of course the interest in vine growing is the chief thing. Such sentences as the following prove this: “J’avais fait suivre le Lafitte au Mouton Rotschild par le respect dû à son ancienneté et ne voulais pas déranger l’ordre naturel, d’autant plus que le maïtre (that was I) donnait une préférence legitime au Lafitte: mais - entre nous - je trouve le Rotschild supérieur.”
That is what the president of the concert society said to me at a lunch at his house…
The great number of beautiful and well-dressed women at the concert was striking. Of course, everyone from Bordeaux was there. An old musician, whom I had already met at Erard‘s, a man of head, heart, and great goodness, begged me, after this lunch, to go to his house for half-an-hour… He lives in a small round place, which must certainly have stood there for 100 years; round it are one-storied houses; and it is very quiet, for neither man nor carriage goes by that way. He has made the house inside very pretty and comfortable. Besides his wife, a young woman, dressed in deep mourning, was there, very beautiful and with an air of distinction… A singing pupil. And the old man begged me imploringly, but proudly, to allow her to sing. She sang 4-5 songs by Fauré in a warm deep voice, with great feeling and taste and very expressive play of the features. There was something noble about her; it reminded me of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. This little interlude left behind the memory of something tender and almost fantastic; fantastic, because it does not belong at all to the character of our time, but goes back rather to the epoch in which the little place was built.

MILAN, 19 February 1909.

It is in his writings and notes that one first really begins to read about Leonardo. From them, one gathers that he already had an idea of the aeroplane, the screw propeller and the diving apparatus. He wanted the Venetians to regulate the “Isonzo” in such a way that artificial flooding could be organized to hold back or to destroy enemies.
They did not allow him to do anything.
And it went through my mind as to whether the dramatic idea could not be grounded in this. As one plan after another fails, one after another, the people turn away from him, but “he,” always solitary and isolated, obtains an increasingly higher and freer point of view until, at the time of his death, he attains his highest wisdom which proves to be prophetic. For one does not want just a dramatic biography. What do you think of that?
The concert yesterday was beautiful, but rather beyond the understanding of the audience.

GENOA, 27 February 1909.

…There has been cold and snow the whole journey - ever since Bordeaux. Even in Nice it snowed. The trains here are slow, uncomfortable, always over-full, always late, the luggage is often left behind…. The journey gave me the opportunity of seeing for the first time the coast which one calls the Riviera. In spite of the frightful weather, it seemed to me to be one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. And one day I propose enjoying it in peace with you… In front, the sea; behind, the picturesque high mountains; between them, terraces with palms, lemons and vines; there are old towns and grey sunny villas alternately, everywhere.
Nice - which I could only see for a couple of hours in the evening - seems rather amusing and lively. One notices a tendency towards extreme “superficiality.” Its situation is, of course, magical. Monte Carlo comes first, when one travels from here, so that I was able to throw a glance at this spot where the civilisation is so monstrous, and which has been so generously ornamented by nature.
On the journey to Nice I had a dream. In it, I came back from a very early walk in the country, between 6 and 7 o’clock in the morning, to a small place which looked like a street (a sort of suburban Boulevard). At an open window, on the ground floor, I saw Dr. Leopold Schmidt standing, with half a cello in his hands. This cello was cut through the middle, from front to back and from top to bottom, like a pear which one shares with a neighbour at table. When I asked what he was doing, Dr. Leopold Schmidt said: “I am studying the source of musical sounds.” I find wit in this dream.
Pity that it is so cold and grey here. I think in Italy one can only give serious concerts in Rome, Bologna and Milan; piano recitals, at any rate. These latter will now be the next and last towns. Treviso, Nice, Genoa were artistically unsatisfactory…. There is a feeling of spiritual misunderstanding between what is expected from me, what I give, and what the puzzled public absorbs.
I have such a longing for your letters. With the exception of Anzoletti, there is no one in Italy who knows me; they look at me as if I were a strange animal. It is sad that there should be such a distance between me and the Italians. I have been too far away from them, for too long a time, and my culture seems foreign to them. I shall write a special preface to the Italian edition of the Æsthetik…
Papa is up again!

ROME, 3 March 1909.

Yesterday I heard the third act of “Aida.” It was touching, comical, sad, but also beautiful. What an audience! The ladies dressed up like dummies in shop windows, and the men in the audience joined in, in the singing! For them the singer is the chief thing. A beautiful sound, a good cadence, bums! enthusiasm, interruption, bis!…

ROME, 6 March 1909.

…I am very nervous, just now, when travelling, and have the continual feeling that time is slipping by me (even if I make every possible use of it under these difficult circumstances).
This makes me bitter sometimes (though not against you) and consequently unjust. I will try not to be so any more, but be pleased when you are pleased. I take a great deal of trouble to act in the right way, but my life is many-sided and in this respect rather complicated….
Already the conflict between what I should like to do, what I could do, and what I must do is very worrying and keeps me in a continual state of tension. But perhaps everything is for the best like this, and who knows if it may not be the means of preserving my energy and even increasing it.
As regards Benni…. Lenau is no reading for him, it is poison, like Schopenhauer and other pleasant despairers. He should only read what spurs him on, not what disheartens him. He should go on reading Shakespeare, for that is good for sense of form and imagination and is fine literature. On the whole, he should read things that are not pessimistic or erotic, but above all, what is artistically good. Don Quixote, Goethe’s poems, Kleist, Gottfried Keller, the 1001 Nights (erotic, certainly, but this is hardly noticeable amongst the other wonders), Benvenuto’s Life, Dickens and Edgar Poe, early Ibsen, and the German romantics; but not these black, pessimistic, suicidal authors; no Lenau, Schopenhauer, Werther, Leopardi - the “Suicide Club“ of literature. I have written a little autobiographical sketch in the Italian language and sent it to Anzoletti, it is written cm 4-5 sheets of notepaper, up to my 6th year. It is quite amusing and written humorously… I am longing for home!!

BOLOGNA, 7 March 1909.

…I am going through difficult days, even though they are made easier by a very warm reception everywhere…
Sgambati was very charming to me, and invited me to lunch. After I had played the Sonata he kissed my hand and said I quite reminded him of the Master; more so than his real pupils….
Tagliapietra and Anzoletti are here again in Bologna. It is the time of the elections (le elezione) and the whole of Italy is in a state of excitement. It is only party agitation; whatever the result, the country will not change…
Dear Gerda, I am not going to write much, because I am very tired. I think of nothing but trains, programmes, and the end of the journey. I am out of touch with everything, only the piano-playing goes well, I hardly seem to play with my hands any more. Whatever I perform, this playing makes the same strong impression everywhere…

MILAN, 9 March 1909.

…I have just come straight from a visit to Boito. They have suggested giving the Brautwahl in Italian and I went to him for advice. Boito is no longer young and his principal thought is for what remains for him to do himself. At last, after nearly 40 years, he seems to have finished his Nerone, in earnest. In spite of all that, he showed a friendly interest in what I had to tell him. He thought the project would be fairly easy to carry out.
My ideas agreed with his: about dramatic art, about Wagner. He predicted good things for my work. The first, and perhaps the greatest difficulty is the translation. And much time can be lost over it. On the other hand, he seems to think that publishers and theatres are certain to be interested. It was a pleasant hour I spent with an able, gifted, and kindly-disposed man.
Yesterday I had a very strenuous day, four hours’ travelling and 2 hours’ preparation for a relatively new programme. The concert lasted another two hours… There is no question of “taking it lightly,” the people expect too much and there are men of authority everywhere. On the contrary, I have taken the greatest trouble.
The concerts in Rome, Bologna and Milan were also very successful.
To-day I go to Triest - still four stages before Berlin!

VIENNA, 14 March 1909.

…I have been moving about every day since the 4th March. I admire my own elasticity.

On the 4th Concert in Rome
5th To Bologna
6th Arrived early and concert
7th Second concert
8th To Milan and concert
9th To Triest
10th Arrived mid-day and concert
11th journey to Fiume (5 hours), concert; after the concert left for Budapest.
12th Arrived mid-day. Evening concert
13th Went to Vienna

The success in Budapest was the same as it has been everywhere this year…
I am so far away from every normal condition, that I cannot tell exactly how I feel. I think I am exhausted. I notice that because I have had so few creative thoughts lately…. But I believe that after 4 days at home I shall be myself again. I did not want to leave you without news, felt the necessity of writing to you…

I am writing to you again - still to-day! I have just come from Bösendorfer, on whom I called. I remembered that he had built a piano (thinking of me) and that I had neglected to go and see it.
I have accustomed myself gradually to making use of the pauses during the journeys and, in spite of the extraordinary amount of work I have done, I wished to give pleasure to the good old man. I even had much pleasure myself, for the instrument is unusually good, big and beautiful.
Bösendorfer I found very fresh, and happy as a child, without being in the least childish. May he still be able to continue so for a long time to come! Although I do not like old people very much, I must say it was a great comfort to me to find my Mother up. Though weak and visibly more fragile, she was clear and active-minded, and so good! She blessed me, saying: I bless you for bringing so much joy and help to your Mother. God will reward you and everything you do will succeed.
The time I spent with Sgambati and Boito was a wonderful experience. One might say: Truth lies in old age; for, as the kernel of the whole person, it alone survives, and there is not enough physical strength to hide it….
Oh!… I am so tired and so out of the rut of my straight line!….

(Addressed to Varese)
BERLIN, 20 July 1909.

…To-day I wrote the first sketch for a treatise on Melody-formation.
No time for everything! Looked through the Diabelli Variations again. It would be a fine task…

(Addressed to Varese)
BERLIN, 21 July 1909.

This morning I attacked the old rascal Manasse… The days roll by like a Phonola-roll: if you attend very closely, interest and expression can be put into it. But if anything is overlooked it is too late to put it right, and unless you are careful the roll is finished - almost unheard….
I am reading Plato now….

(Addressed to Gargnano on Lake Garda)
BERLIN, 28 July 1909.

To-day the “Lokalanzeiger” contains the news of Blériot having flown across the English Channel. I know now the names of a good half dozen such “big birds,” and it is to be hoped that the youth of the future will be turned aside from piano-playing by the new racecourse. But the Jews will stick to playing the piano, for it is not dangerous; and they will confine themselves to playing:

Si oiseau j’étais
A toi je volerais.

…To come back to the aforesaid bird, it seems to me that the act of having flown the Channel is beautiful and important - but it does not surpass that of Wright’s flight: it is only more sensational…

FLORENCE, 7 August 1909.

…This town is not so beautiful as it is reputed to be. Perhaps it was only at the time when the principal buildings were put up that they seemed original and very magnificent; especially to the Florentines themselves, who have never suffered from patriotic shyness… The dome of the cathedral is the only thing that still gives an impression of grandeur and originality, especially if one looks at it from a point where one cannot see the façade. The sculpture is often bad, and what is good is hidden!… Some of the houses which are seldom mentioned have wonderful proportions, and if someone made a proper study of them the result might lead to a beautiful type of architecture for towns. Messel has done something like this. But he sticks in his period as far as the Empire and Biedermeier styles are concerned. It was phenomenal how art flowered in Tuscany, and that alone explains the present-day exhaustion. Poets, from Dante and Boccaccio up to Carducci. Amongst sculptors, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Benvenuto [Cellini], Verrocchio, Donatello, and a whole Milky-Way of smaller stars. Amongst scientists, Leonardo, Galileo and prominent doctors and lawyers. Musicians, Guido Monaco, Monteverdi, Cherubini up to Puccini (!). Rulers, Cardinals, Popes, a Machiavelli, and great generals - one can even count Napoleon Buonaparte amongst the Tuscans.
But now they are a small people composed of astonishingly uneducated, provincial tradesmen, with a blockade of prejudices, antiquated customs and opinions, and a ridiculous number of conventional phrases, which make a kind of island of the culture. But the country is heavenly…
Here is a little episode which is worth relating.
Yesterday evening there was only one guest in the Restaurant Bonciani. He was a priest, wore gold pince-nez, and was scrupulously, almost elegantly, dressed. Not far off fifty, rather an intellectual face, the middle of his head shaved and the remaining hair in fantastic little bunches on each side ; he was reading a French newspaper. He addressed me in Italian which did not sound quite natural. A street band was playing outside, and the waiters had hurried, to the door. “The excellence of the service has to suffer on account of enthusiasm for art,” he said, turning to me. I found the beginning of the conversation rather promising, and we talked from one table to the other. He had come to Italy 32 years ago and preserved, so he said, “a pleasant recollection “ of the time. He remarked that he had not been a priest then, and so I concluded, without asking further questions, that it must have been the story of a woman. “32 years ago! You were not born then!” said the priest. At this moment the old waiter who served me threw in the remark, quite short and dry, “You are forty-two.” This remark surprised me. Then the priest proceeded to praise the wine, and developed a beautiful rhetorical eloquence:
“This wine,” he remarked, “is not so good as Lachrymae Christi, nor Falerno, nor the wine of San Marino, but it is an agreeable wine.” I thought of the Abbé Coignard. Finally he talked about music and said he had done a little composing himself. The figs were eaten and I stood up. “Perhaps we shall meet again one day,” I said. “ No,” he said, quite decidedly, and tapped on the table with his finger, “this evening.” (Hm.) “I don’t know,” I said “Adieu,” got up, and bowed…

BALE, 12 August 1909.

I am sitting in the Drei-König Hotel in Basle and feel very well to-day, thank God. It is sunny and fresh, outside and inside, and I am like a convalescent smiling afresh. The theory that it is necessary to be very great in order to bear greatness (even in the form of enjoyment) is a universal truth, and one must be strong in order to feel that strength is pleasant.
The temperature and the abundance of everything in Italy were too strong for me in the condition I was in when I came away. It is no use going to Italy in the summer in order to make a recovery; it is only good as a place to rest in after recovery! - then, by all means; but I needed to collect strength and not to strain what I had of it, and it nearly prostrated me. Yet to-day, I feel - as a kind of reaction - a good effect from being in Italy. On the way here I found an excellent and charming edition of Cazotte’s “Le Diable Amoureux.” The way in which some books are got up invites one to read them, more than others. This one - published in the forties - almost “woos” readers. So I have allowed myself to be led to Cazotte easily and shall have finished the book before my return home. The first chapter is “captivant“ (which means more than “fesselnd“ in German) and I have thought of making it into an original kind of opera or pantomime. Who knows!? - “Le Diable Amoureux” is a beautiful title anyhow.
Dear Gerda, I become good when I think of you, of you all, of my room in the tower, and of “safe” Italy. I shall drag myself on another two stages or so, and then we shall have a happy time.

MANCHESTER, 3 November 1909.

Manchester looks the same as ever. Below, slippery ground, black and shining, animated by ugly people (God knows why they exist) and loaded carts, walking, rolling, rattling; the genius of cheerfulness banished to an inaccessible remoteness; the roofs and towers of the town vanishing ghostlike into the grey fog. What is the point of putting clocks on the towers? One can never read the figures on their faces. I feel so strong and creative and suffer because I am unable to work. There is still a small amount of less important work to do, the Liszt Polonaise and the new notation to edit and similar things.
The walk across the desert in the “Zauberer” I should like to represent scenically, if possible: at first an empty stage perhaps, with effective decoration; then the wandering, exhausted Kassen enters and the voices of the unseen spirits of the magician and the young woman are heard respectively, enticing and warning. The cauldron in the first act must be there from the beginning; instead of the Magician pulling gold out of it (which is not impressive enough for the audience) the whole cauldron must change, under thick smoke, into a showy statue of Buddha. Such things, and others too, must be thought over, fined down and enlarged, even in the words too.
What do you think about it? Please send me a copy of the libretto on the journey to Germany…. I am only waiting for the moment when I put my foot on land at Flushing…

COLOGNE, 8 November 1909.

It was strenuous, from Bradford to Cologne… The crossing was as smooth as oil, only delayed at the beginning by fog. The sky was clear when we started, and then I enjoyed the most remarkable picture I have seen in the whole of my life, perhaps. The splendour of the stars was magnificent and I was absorbed in looking at it. And - Listen! - Instead of the sky looking as it usually does, like a concave hemisphere, with little holes for light in the ceiling - -all at once I saw endless space above, and the planets floating in it, some higher or lower, nearer or further away, in groups, cascades of varying intensity in light, colour and size. It quite moved me, and then, as if man were not allowed to glance into such a mystery, suddenly a wall of fog got up on every side and - my shadow fell on it! That was an experience.
And I had a number of smaller pleasures too… In London I saw a fascinating picture of the great Pitt. Anything like the clarity and intelligence in his look I have never yet encountered. The riches of nature and of earth are distributed in the same way. Thousands go short in order that one can be so endowed. I mean (in case I have not said it clearly) - there is a certain quantity of intelligence allotted to men and it is unequally distributed.
To-day I received, at last, the translation of the first act of the Brautwahl from Anzoletti. It is extraordinary. The language is splendid and the understanding astonishing. He has a clear head! With a few alterations it will fit the music and perhaps this will sound still better with Italian words. The Brautwahl seems to be lucky. Egon has also offered, of his own free will, to do the piano score, which is very important for me. What a pity that I cannot carry on all these things now, quietly and persistently to the end! That is the only thing that pains me. Do you know that the Petrarca-sonnet had great success in the Gewandhaus? Senius sang it. Oh, Columbus!…

BUDAPEST, 3 December 1909.

On the night journey from Berlin to Vienna, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, I met Herr Hertzka. Had already seen him some time before, the unmistakable Austrian would-be artist, hurrying to and fro, everything in fluttering movement on his extremely mobile person, hair, beard, cravat and cloak. At last he could stand it no longer and introduced himself: “Hertzka, Director of the Universal Edition A.G., Vienna.” And the conversation span itself out till far into the night, and we hit upon much that we had in common. We spoke of the and part of the Wohlt. Clavier, of the Brautwahl, and finally of Schönberg too. He wanted to do everything for me.
In Vienna, early, I had a visit from Bösendorfer. He was fresh and clever, warm and open; his visit did me good. Then in the evening, at the concert, Kapff, old and ill, made such a sad impression that I made him a present of 100 gulden. I could not see such misery, and it seemed as if I were paying a debt…
The success was enormous. I was recalled six times. Early the next day to Budapest. Have played extraordinarily well here…
And now on to Lemberg and soon to Berlin again; these two days have been a little too much for me. I am thoroughly jogged and jolted and in playing, too, I have given out much (especially here). How everything accumulates in life, the further one goes! How much there has been in these two days! They feel like two weeks. An abundance of things, but difficult to deal with. People take very much from one, thinking all the while that they give. Soon - I think - I shall be ready to be alone…
I kiss you in my inmost thoughts, for in this medley you alone stand firm…


(Addressed to New York)
CHICAGO, 15 January 1910.

My window faces the sea, and I overlook an endless flatness of shining ice and snow. A white desert! Boundless and hopeless. And behind me lies the town, just as black as this is white.
I sit the whole day in the hotel; my most serious occupation is regulating the central heating. The result to my art is that I oscillate between headaches and freezing. The moment when the headache stops and the freezing begins is indeed “ganz scheen,” as Caufall would say. I try other work too, but only second class. Middelschulte is going to bring me an essay by Bernard Ziehn to-day, on Bach’s uncompleted fugue. Comes very à propos. They are both distinguished men and - in order to fill up the time - I have written a nice essay about them for the Signale, and called it: “Die Gothiker von Chicago, Ill.”
To-morrow, I go to St. Paul…
From Minneapolis to New York it is as far as from Berlin to Petersburg! Patience…

(Addressed to New York)
MINNEAPOLIS, 20 January 1910.

…There was beautiful winter atmosphere in St. Paul; it is a pleasant town. Minneapolis has only been established 50 years and has 320 thousand inhabitants. These are the wonders of the new world.
I am studying counterpoint again, for which Chicago has stimulated me very much. It is a beautiful weapon which one must be able to handle. But it is difficult to concentrate when one is constantly having new rooms and surroundings…

(Addressed to New York)
CINCINNATI, 19 February 1910.

…I have altered the plan for the Fantasia contrappuntistica (on Bach’s last and greatest work). I shall not begin with a Fantasy, but bring into the fugue itself everything in the nature of fantasy. It will sound like something between a composition by C. Franck and the Hammerclavier sonata, with an individual nuance.
I miss you and don’t know whether it is better or not, without being able to reach you, to know that you will still be another week in America. You have been so good and made everything easier and more beautiful for me… May everything good be with you. Be happy. I believe everything will go well now…

(Addressed to New York)
LOUISVILLE, 22 February 1910.

…Starting this evening, the journey to Kansas-City takes 24 hours! If the South begins with Louisville, then the promise is a bad one. Dirty, bad hotel, no respectable entrance hall, and niggers of the lowest type. It is unnecessary (yet I must say it) to wish you everything, everything good and pleasant on the journey. You leave a gap here and a most golden memory…. Don’t worry about me, my work keeps up my courage. The fugue is becoming monumental. After that I shall start working at my opera…

NEW ORLEANS, 27 February 1910.

When I received the telegram from Hanson: “Your wife started in glorious sunshine, parting from the excellent lady difficult,” I was sitting in Kansas-City and had (moral) cramp in my heart, which has remained with me all these days…. Meanwhile I received both your very dear and interesting letters; the practical hints I have observed minutely, and I am now writing a little analysis of Turandot for Mahler. I think I shall be able to hear the rehearsal and the idea refreshes me; when you read this, it will already be over… Yesterday evening, after a journey of 27 hours, we arrived here. The South! It has always a new, surprising and indescribable magic. My sense of pleasure in change of scenery has been blunted, but here it is stirred afresh and the mere idea of being by the Gulf of Mexico fires my blood - as if I were a novice in travelling. Immediately, as in Italy, a feeling for doing nothing with the highest justification sets in. We walked about, without overcoats, until midnight; it was difficult to decide to go to bed, and everything was so lively during the night that sleep was impossible. Everything takes place in the street, everything is open, the negro population is very numerous, but besides that, one hears all languages, sees types from all countries, and the figure of the American business man looks just as out of place here as the only sky-scraper does, which is my hotel….

NEW ORLEANS, 1 March 1910.

Your letter from the ship has made me quite tender. To-day is the first of March. I intended finishing this monster fugue in February, and I have succeeded, but I shall never undertake such a thing again!
I write to announce this good news….

ATLANTA, 3 March 1910.

New Orleans did not quite come up to expectations for, first of all, the water is 100 kilometres away and, secondly, it is a cruel climate. It is like an exotic sister of Triest… Why do people torment themselves by living here? No wine, no theatre, no connection with the world (even New York is like a foreign country here) and yet! it is not only the money that holds them fast, but, as everything goes to prove, the South!
The softness, the warmth, the misty evenings, and the eternal summer; the strange little houses, consisting almost entirely of open verandahs, the service of numberless black domestics, which everyone can keep, and in which some of the characteristics of slavery still survive. The women are beautiful and are, I believe, the chief interest, apart from business… This has been one of the worst towns and I shall be glad when I am out of it…
The fugue is the most important of my piano works (with the exception of the concerto) - I have still two days in which to make a clean copy.
It consists of:

First Fugue
Second “
Third “ …and the working out of the three
First variation
Second variation
Third variation
Fourth Fugue

You see the plan is unusual. Every note “sits.”
I read your dear letters over again until I receive new ones…
To-day you will see land! Your visit here was exceptionally beautiful; perhaps you will be able to enjoy being at home too.
I received the final letter from Basle yesterday. The thing is in order. The Concerto will be played too. We have many a good thing to look forward to…

DAYTON, 3 March 1910.

An Epilogue to the New Æsthetic

Come, follow me into the realm of music. Here is the iron fence which separates the earthly from the eternal.
Have you undone the fetters and thrown them away?
Now come. It is not as it was before, when we stepped into a strange country; we soon learnt to know everything there and nothing surprised us any longer. Here there is no end to the astonishment, and yet from the beginning we feel it is homelike.
You still hear nothing, because everything sounds. Now, already you begin to differentiate. Listen, every star has its rhythm, and every world its measure. And on each of the stars and each of the worlds, the heart of every separate living being is beating in its own individual way. And all the beats agree and are separate and yet are a whole.
Your inner ear becomes sharper. Do you hear the depths and the heights? They are as immeasurable as space and endless as numbers.
Unthought-of scales extend like bands from one world to another, stationary, and yet eternally in motion. Every tone is the centre of immeasurable circles. And now sound is revealed to you!
Innumerable are its voices; compared with them, the murmuring of the harp is a din; the blare of a thousand trombones a chirrup.
All, all melodies, heard before or never heard, resound completely and simultaneously, carry you, hang over you, or skim lightly past you - of love and passion, of spring and of winter, of melancholy and of hilarity; they are themselves the souls of millions of beings in millions of epochs. If you focus your attention on one of them, you perceive how it is connected with all the others, how it is combined with all the rhythms, coloured by all kinds of sounds, accompanied by all harmonies, down to unfathomable depths and up to the vaulted roof of heaven.
Now you realise how planets and hearts are one, that nowhere can there be an end or an obstacle; that infinity lives completely and indivisibly in the spirit of all beings; that each being is both illimitably great and illimitably small: the greatest expansion is like to a point: and, that light, sound, movement and power are identical, and each separate and all united, they are life.

TOLEDO, 5 March 1910.

When you consider that I was still in New Orleans on the 1st, have played in two other towns in between, and to-day have a concert again here in the north, you will gather what an amount of travelling there has been!
There is nothing, anywhere, so inappropriate as the name of this town. Toledo!! But the spring makes even the impossible beautiful and the weather is glorious.
I am still intoxicated by the “great fugue” I have finished - I shall be sober again soon; and something else will come to take its place.
Now from the 9th to the 13th I shall move like a pendulum between New York and Boston or rather - when you read this - I shall have moved; for one writes about the future and reads about the past! Which of the two is real then? It makes one’s brain reel. (Moreover, a telegram for the West arrives earlier than it is despatched.) Because of this I was able to find out early in the morning, in Dayton, to my great joy and ease of mind, that your boat had arrived in Cherbourg at 4 o’clock in the morning. Judging by the punctuality, the voyage must have been fairly good. Now you are over the English Channel, my friend for many years and many hours…

6 March.

I have had two weeks of hard work (almost three) since I left you in New York. And the great change in the climate has been very trying… It is fine, here in the South. It is a world in itself. About Berlin, for example, one hears nothing; there is not the least connection with it any more, nor any kind of dependence - without exaggeration, it is as we feel with regard to Peking. They talk of New York as of something quite, quite distant, a big, big town which has many pleasures and where the people lead a mad life. But of that, too, the South remains completely independent. After providing for the necessities of life (which is easy) the rest consists of much sun, a little laziness and love-making and a naïve desire for external elegance. And the South is so powerful, that one understands it at once and admits that it is right, is moved by it oneself. I said all this to X, who remained cool; he did not understand it, and was as if (unconsciously) he were envious that people could live comfortably without the noise and hurry and the 1000 sufferings of the average man in New York. Envious that one should be allowed to remain quiet without someone else being immediately in front of you; envious to see so much room for everything and even a little piece of space left free for the late-corners, and with some air between too!
I tried to explain to X that in the old culture industrial inventions were the result of growing necessities. Whilst in America the invention is made and a use for it is thought out afterwards, so that the public can be made to feel that it is a necessity. How in Europe the railway arose from the wish amongst towns and nations to have communication with one another, whereas here the railways are made first and then the towns are built.
I tried to explain to X that industry altogether - important as it is economically - is yet only a means to attain practical ends, I but here it is an aim in itself and the real reason for the activity is not the making of a million unnecessary articles, but the employment of a thousand workers to do it. I tried further to explain to the good X, who listened so attentively whilst shaking his head from time to time, how the American thinks out nothing for himself and does not work out his own ideas and understanding of a thing if it is not his business.
For that reason he takes the laws of religion, of art and of morals, for granted, like traditions, or as they are presented to him by clever, cunning people and he becomes as obstinate and limited as a peasant. Politics interest him only so far as they are an active power on the stock exchange and his only personal interests (personal! that means the same as the millions of other people have got with whom he mixes) are the family, “honour” and patriotism. This explains why the American likes to “join up“ with those who are unknown to him and who will converse with him; in hotels, in trains, in the street; because he is certain of understanding him, of finding that the other has the same standard, the same opinions as himself.
I believe that this expresses the whole psychology of the American fairly well. What strikes me this time, and which I did not notice before, is the necessity for cordiality and warmth in the Americans, and that is a beautiful impulse which reconciles one to them.
I babble like this because I am so tired; it is to be hoped I have not bored you…

BOSTON, 12 March 1910.

It is still impossible for me to hear anything from you and this - although I know it cannot be otherwise - is almost more than my nerves can bear, strained to the uttermost as they are.
“Dear old Boston” stands on the same old spot as always, and my mood is very like it was in 1892-93 - my two flowering years!! “Away, away,” barks the dog in Anderson’s “Snowman.”
Christian Science has a big ostentatious church here in the middle of the most elegant quarter! It cost 1 _ million!…
They have stolen the architecture of the church from Italy again, although the taste is not altogether good. The cathedral in Berlin would rank very high here as architecture. One is obliged to remind oneself of something like this in order to find the way back to a standard…
And the bare streets; either quite empty or filled with a mass of Plebs, compared with whom the Berlin working man is an aristocrat! The world is joyless here, and it is, so it seems, hopeless to think that it will ever be any better. Not the land of “unlimited possibilities“ but of “impossible limitations.”
What a pity that you did not hear Turandot under Mahler. In the end I remained there for the evening; it seemed to me to be unjust towards Mahler to go away. With what love and unerring instinct this man rehearsed! Artistically, and humanly, it was both gratifying and warming.
The performance was perfect, better than all the previous ones, and the success was great. It is true the papers did not wish to take it quite seriously, but the world is full of errors and misunderstandings.
Most of the music of the Magic Flute, too, is only a kind of lightly coloured illustration. And arias like

“Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja”

cannot be valued much higher than that.
The important position given to the Brahms Violin Concerto, too, in this programme was exaggerated. In the first place the piece is stolen from Beethoven (what I call stolen), and secondly, although it has the appearance of being big, it is patched together in small bits. I thought of two comparisons in connection with Brahms. The first is that of a little mountain lake into which a stream flows on one side and goes out again on the opposite side, without disturbing the calmness of the lake. The other comparison occurred to me by remembering how similar Ludwig Spohr’s position was in the musical world of his time; and the similarity of the gifts of both composers…

NEW YORK, 14 March 1910.

Two letters from the boat at last! They are so dear and good and you say that the voyage was beautiful.
To-morrow I am going to Boston for a recital. After that the dates are still uncertain….

15 March.

The whole of my “local” biography is printed in detail in the Symphony programme. These programme books are very well done - Turandot was a great success. Frau Mahler herself fetched me from the box in which I sat half hidden. “Do go, give Gustav the pleasure.” And I went on the platform as shy and “unused to it” as if I had never stood in front of an audience before….

NEW YORK, 17 March 1910.

The Boston Recital yesterday was a little winding up, a kind of “full stop and comma” in the tour…
Everything in Boston was just as it was before, the same people using the same words, and even in the sleeping car the same old fat nigger, who wears spectacles now….
I played as well as I possibly can play. The success was great.
To-day I really feel as if everything were “completely over” and it would have been right if the tour had ended now. The dates, as I said, are quite uncertain, but Hanson will not let me off the Brooklyn Recital, 28 April. There are six whole weeks till then, which would be enough time for a big tour really.
I shall close my letter for to-day, for I am over-tired and quite exhausted….
I have opened the closed envelope again because your extra-ordinarily dear letter from Berlin has just come and been received with equal love by me… Your dear words and feelings have given me the strength to go on further, when it was threatening to fail me.

COLUMBUS, OHIO, 21 March 1910.

Every day makes the time I have to spend here shorter.
One advantage in America is the quick business methods. “I should like to have that printed; I should like to have that in the paper“ and it is already done…
I am glad it is beautiful in Berlin; nowhere is it so beautiful as at home.
When I come again in two years’ time and have acquaintances in every town, from New York to “Frisco,” everything will feel easier.

COLUMBUS, OHIO, 22 March 1910.

About Red Indians.

I spoke to a Red Indian woman. She told me how her brother (a talented violinist) came to New York to try and make his way. “But he could not associate his ideas with the question of daily bread.” How much good it does one to hear of such a sentiment in the United States!
Then she said that her tribe ought to have an instrument something like this: A hole should be dug in the earth and strings stretched all round the edges of it. I said (in the spirit of the Red Indians): An instrument like that ought to be called “the voice of the Earth.” She was quite enthusiastic about this.
Miss Curtis was formerly my pupil in harmony. Do you remember her in New York? She has devoted the whole of this year to the study of Red Indian songs and has brought out a beautiful book. She gave it to me “In remembrance of the first performance of Turandot in New York.” She is a fine, cultivated, rich girl….
The Red Indians are the only cultured people who will have nothing to do with money, and who dress the most everyday things in beautiful words.
How different is a business man from Chicago compared with this! Roosevelt is called “Teddy “ by him; and by the Red Indians “Our great white father.”

NEW YORK, 24 March 1910.

Your letters are not just a little distraction for me, but, as you know very well, they are a very great necessity. Every new one brings relief; every interval between them makes a tension. I have written to you a good deal - but it isn’t always possible, for an engagement list like the following quite finishes one off; and yesterday I could do absolutely nothing:

20 March, 6 o’clock Departure from New York
21 “ 9 “ Arrival in Columbus
21 “ 8 “ Evening concert
22 “ 12 “ Mid-day departure from Columbus
22 “ 7 “ Evening arrival Pittsburg
22 “ 8.30 “ Evening concert
22 “ 11 “ Evening departure for New York
23 “ 9.30 “ Morning arrival in New York

Please look closely at the 22nd March. Is it worth while? One starts going through America with a full sack which gets torn, and one strews half the contents on the way.
If Pittsburg were not so incomparably smoky, it might be a remarkable town. In the centre of the lower part of the town there is a serpentine road, four miles long, going up the steep hill which leads to the upper aristocratic quarter; the road is open on one side, so that as one goes up and the town lies further below, one sees more and more of it. We drove in an excellent motor-car in the twilight - it was quite fantastic. It is Carnegie’s town and he built a concert hall for it (the most beautiful in America) which cost 2 millions. Everything breathes of great wealth. There are ten or twelve enormous columns which bear the roof of the entrance hall, each is made out of one single piece of black marble and is worth 4-5000 dollars. The hall was quite full…
Now I must tell you about Mr. C. F.’s “System.” It is the most cunning one I have ever heard of, a patent of patents - in comparison, Uncle Benjamin’s “machine” is primitive. F. keeps a school for the development of piano teachers. (Just think of the endless wheel which turns continuously without achieving anything!) F. himself gives instruction to the 12 most gifted students gratuitously; in return for this they have to give instruction to the remaining 3-400. But F. receives the money from the 3-400. Wonderful! Admirable! Unique!…

NEW YORK, 25 March 1910.

A hot summer’s day with a warm dusty wind and summer scents.
All the orchestras have given their last concert, and I have to hold out for another month and practise, too, in order to convince people that I can play the piano! I am furious to-day, and feel as if I were being exploited by everyone.
The people in Hamburg are in a hurry [1] and have written five letters in one week, after having kept. silence for three months.
But haste has nothing to do with my work. Either it must be quite good or I don’t do it at all. I try to keep to that standard. Everybody works for the next moment and lives as if it were a question of Eternity. The contrary of this seems more right to me.
Forgive this explosion, dear good Gerda. I would rather write more to-morrow when I am calmer. I should like to say at once that I mean nothing bad.
Coat of Arms

[1] About the production of “Die Brautwahl.”

26 March.

Continuation of the letter, but not of the bad humour, although I go to Chicago this afternoon, and then for about a 40 hours’ drive on further to Colorado Springs. It is a pity, a great, great pity that I can get no letter all this time and already I have been many days without one. To-morrow is Easter Sunday and nothing will be forwarded to Colorado Springs on account of the distance.
The beauty of the Coloured Springs (almost like an illuminated fountain - I wonder if I shall be reminded of the Viktoria-Luise-Platz [1] ) is so renowned that I am expecting much pleasure from seeing them… I shall be there on the 1st April; it is probably the most fantastic place in which I have ever spent my birthday - up to now. It is a pity, for someone is certain to remember the day and I shall hear nothing. I must not spin counterpoint round this subject or it might become an Elegy, almost a Berceuse Elégiaque. Let us say rather: a new year, a new aim. And you will help me further as you have helped me so beautifully up to now.

[1] Busoni’s flat in Berlin.

DES MOINES, 28 March 1910.

Yesterday was a hard day, indeed the last two nights and days were both very strenuous. The heat in Chicago was very great, which made it more difficult to play, and concert-giving and concert-going did not at all suit the time of the year (and the day!). It was Easter Sunday. I was sad in the morning and thought of other Easter Sundays. I was completely alone, nervous from hours’ travelling and at first everything went badly; but when I heard that there would be many musicians at the concert, and that Mr. and Mrs. Rothwell (Conductor in St. Paul) had remained expressly to hear me, then I pulled myself together and it was all over with “take it lightly.”
This was the programme:

Waldstein Sonata
Brahms Paganini
(encore: Liszt-Paganini Variationen)
Chopin Sonata B minor
(encore: “Butterfly “-Etude)
(2nd encore: Terzen-Etude)
Au bord d’une Source
6 Rhapsodie
(encore: Campanella).

The audience stopped and clapped until the piano was closed and the lights were put out. You see, that was real work and showed (apart from fugue playing) about everything that one can do on the piano.
The Erlkönig and Sixth Rhapsodie have been “newly renovated” and I shall now play them again. I believe I have made something out of the 6th, especially. Then I enjoyed a meal, and for it had the company of Middelschulte, Stock and both the Rothwells, who are all pleasant and intelligent.
Middelschulte was charmed with the finished fugue and its plan. He said the idea of variations in between is quite new and the plan out of the common.
In the evening, at half-past nine, I came on here to Des Moines, which is a horrible town in a paradisical country. The spring is in full bloom. To-morrow I am off to Colorado Springs which they say is beautiful, and where I shall be on the 1st April. The whole affair should have ended there really.
Denver lies eleven miles from Col. Springs, but I must travel the whole way back (as far as Boston) and then back to Denver, which makes about 5,000 kilometres extra!
Unfortunately I can compose but little, hardly at all: the journeys eat up too much time.
I think of you and of you all even more than usual….

DES MOINES, 29 March 1910.

From the standpoint of a touring artist, the concert yesterday was very satisfactory - full house, a feeling of excitement and enthusiastic criticisms. The heat had reached the highest point for the year. I was dead tired. But a beautiful piano, good acoustics, and the feeling of great expectation in the hall hypnotized me for the two hours I was on the platform.
From the standpoint of a thinking artist, no longer young, it was an unforgivable waste of strength, time and thought, which can never be recovered, in order to make a momentary impression on a small number of insignificant people.
Taking it all in all, again Chicago seems to me the best town in America. Boston is too much like Leipzig, and New York is disintegrated by excess of pleasure. An event there passes as quickly as one of those dried flowers which children blow away. “A beautiful flower,” the children say – puff - and only the stalk remains in their hands, and they throw it away. Transitoriness! but without it new blooms would not be possible.
Only there must be no hurrying transitoriness which shames us. For example, like Debussy’s “L’Après-midi d’un Faune” which I heard conducted by Mahler the other day. I said to someone, “This music is the picture of a beautiful sunset - it fades whilst one looks at it…”
I have to wait here for the 6 o’clock train to Colorado Springs and will try to fill up the time. But whether it is the spring, fatigue, or the atmosphere of the West-for the last fey weeks I have been able to accomplish nothing! It is understandable, but none the less to be deplored.
I still have 9 concerts and exactly one month before the tour is “completed.” But I need not practise any more, just keep the playing going. The latter has changed a little. One involuntarily responds to the demands for a brilliant technique which are made by the Americans. Well, with me that cannot be the cause of serious harm. I have also learnt, at last, how to attack the 1st movement of the Waldstein Sonata which never went quite as I wished. And I have played it for almost thirty years!!
These two last sentences ought to be written out and hung up in Conservatoriums…

COLORADO SPRINGS, 31 March 1910.

We arrived yesterday evening - instead of mid-day - five hours late. I had hoped to get some pleasure from this place, but it is nothing more than a health resort, so far as I can see up to the present.
A large, expensive hotel, gardens laid out in an artificial style, pretty scenery in the background - that is all one finds here, and the hours seem so long that people don’t know what to do with them. Hot days and shiveringly cool evenings; and the sunsets being shut out by high mountains gives a touch of melancholy.
Instead of edelweiss, chamois brushes and stag horns - as medallions, letter weights and watch cases - they sell Red Indian handiwork here (perhaps from a German factory). It is like Baden-Baden, or some place like that - only one wonders why it is necessary to travel two sun-hours further west just to see this!
For here we are so much nearer to the Pacific Ocean than to the Atlantic that there is more than 8 hours difference from the Berlin time.
I have never yet been so far from you and just before the 1st April, too. But what a journey!! It has opened my eyes and brought an extraordinary light to bear on my conceptions of America which were still unclear; and has given me the key to many unsolved problems. Now I know much more and I see quite different things.
We travelled for twelve hours yesterday, through table-land as if we were going through a sea: the view from all sides was boundless, an endless distance, and - for the whole 12 hours - there was neither house, nor tree, nor water!!! I saw then the big fundamental reason: America is not built over yet because almost everything has yet to be begun: the few showy towns running along the coasts are only a shell, and the kernel of it is missing: Chicago is the inside crust of this shell and then comes: Void. Some such idea was already beginning to dawn on me, on the way from Memphis to New Orleans, but I put down the condition of the country there to the climate. But now I am bound to admit that America is young; that it is not yet born. It was a revelation. Now I am pacified about America: it still has work to do for centuries to come. Shall I really travel again to Denver from New York on the 19th?
I am so sad without letters, and so tired!! Have you had the letters which I have sent almost daily?
I have a longing for you, for home, for peace, for my work - but am too enfeebled to enjoy looking forward to it. It will all change, and my next letter will sound quite joyful, dear Gerda…


I began the new year of my life well for I got up at 7 o’clock. At this hour the landscape was quite ”Segantinish“ to look at- -
I have been obliged to give up my intention of resting here for 3-4 days. It is not so easy to bear this altitude of 6,000 ft. without any transition stage. It takes away one’s breath (literally) and the nights are horrible.
It is about 8 o’clock here, so in Berlin it is not quite 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Perhaps some intimate friends are having tea with you and you are speaking of me. I can see the picture in front of me… Now it has passed, and I see the sharply defined white and brown mountains again in front of Segantini’s grey-blue sky and I am conscious of where I am - but, after looking at it a long time, I forget and feel myself, bodily, in the Engadine and think:

Behind the mountains, there is Italy- -

And I knock on the mountains as on a wall and from the other side (as if behind a door) I hear Anzoletti’s voice saying: “What is the matter? Oh, Ferruccio! “…
I am completely alone here, and that is better than being with people half of whom are friends and half strangers. I have traversed - town by town - exactly a third of the earth and now there is 8 hours’ difference in the time!
No year in my life has been so full up as this one which is just over: the richest in work, experiences and achievements - and I feel that I am still going upwards. Everything good, my Gerda, is with us.
From memory I cannot count up exactly what I have done during this year.
Amongst my own compositions are:

Die Stücke an die Jugend
Berceuse élégiaque für Orchester
Die Grosze Fuge
The New Notation
1st volume Liszt Edition
180 pages of the Brautwahl score
Frau Potiphar
Many Essays for papers
Numberless letters
Adjudicating for the “Signale” prize.


Tour in England
“ “ Switzerland
“ “ Austria
“ “ America (played 35 times)

Then, there was the performance of the Concerto in Newcastle, of Turandot in New York, of the quartet by Petri, and smaller things.
Plenty of experiences….
Please add to it the thousands of kilometres of travelling.
(I worked well at the opera to-day.)
All hope of post is over. Now they will send nothing after me from New York. I travel back to-morrow as far as possible uninterruptedly for 3 days and 2 nights. Then I shall find the letters.
(This day seems to have no end.)
I send you all I can think of, of beauty, goodness and love: I know you are thinking of me now…

NEW YORK, 6 April 1910.

At last, yesterday - the 5th - after a lapse of ten days! your letters could reach me again, and I am enriched by them…
The expectation of the post has been my only thought during this week of complete enervation: - nothing remained in my brain but this…
Your dear words - intended for the 1st April - have done me an extraordinary amount of good. Returning to New York and reading about your feelings was half like “being at home”…
In the West when I saw a farmer behind a plough I thought: There! that is the most primitive form of well-being; just add to it sleep, appetite, love - and some beauty - these things never change and not an ounce is added to them by anything mechanical.
Why does a “skyscraper“ look wrong?
Because its proportions are wrong in relation to the size of people; and because the conception of the building as a whole is not in right proportion to its height…
The book by H. H. Ewers is, of course, the same that I bought once at the Anhalter Bahnhof… The German critic has come to grief altogether over this book, and at once talks about E. A. Poe - this man who was a martyr to misunderstandings. “A new Poe,” she cries; but there cannot be a new Poe! It must either be someone whose work is different or worse. In the whole history of art there is no such thing as a second example. What a number of ”new Chopins“ there have already been!
The volumes of Strindberg were very welcome. He is a poet, has thought, development in his work, and also personality. But it seems to me that a something (important) is missing, only I have not yet found out what and where it is. A thousand thanks for the books…
The new notation has found an opponent to whom I was obliged to reply. I am proud that I can write English so well. I have written this letter quite alone (that is to say, the printed one enclosed).
Enclosed are cuttings about Boston and Pittsburg, the “daughter” of Busoni, and Chaliapine’s wonderful make-up as Don Quixote in Massenet’s Opera (he is the last man to touch this subject).
And for to-day I must take a warm farewell….

WASHINGTON, 8 April 1910.

A beautiful town, and a fresh, ”sparkling“ spring morning… If only there were no recital! The climatic torture of Colorado Springs has fairly ”beaten“ me - -the three days’ travelling from there has not exactly cured me, and I had had enough without both these superfluities.
That Klimt’s work shows a similarity with Donatello’s bas-relief does not surprise me. Art is like a game of chess; the same moves, with the same men, and on the given field of the chessboard - and yet no games are alike. The “Klimt-Donatello“ similarity probably has its source in Byzantine art, in the East anyhow, like all art, with the exception of music, and that is because it does not copy forms but is the expression of mood.
Verrocchio - as I have said many times - had all the later styles in him (up to the Rococo). Rodin has certainly been influenced by him. How nice it is that you are so satisfied with the arrangement of the museum! “Handicraft“ is to art as tilling the soil is to harvest.
I am very proud of, and am very strengthened by, my new counterpoint studies (I have worked hard at harmony too) and that makes one skilful.
In music one cannot teach Composition, but one can practise it! “Practice makes perfect“ - there is always something true in proverbs. One is born an artist, but has to educate oneself in order to be a master. That has often been said already, but if you don’t pay attention to it, may good luck be with you on the journey to brilliant mediocrity!…

BOSTON, 12 April 1910.

…I have just come back from a motor drive from Cambridge where I and Mr. Byrn visited Dolmetsch. He looks like a little faun, with a handsome head, and lives in the past. He builds pianos, Clavecins and Clavichords. The Clavecin (the English harpsichord) is magnificent. I made capital out of it at once and, first of all, brought the instrument into the Brautwahl (when Albertine accompanies herself on it) and, secondly, begged for one to be sent to Berlin. They are beautiful outside too…
To-day I wrote a kind of letter of appreciation about America to Hanson for publication.
The recital was yesterday and it was very good… Then I had guests to lunch, then Dolmetsch. The time gets filled up…

TERRE HAUTE, 14 April 1910.

…Your letter comforted me very much, for everything is on such a low level here, that this Terre Haute ought to be called Terre Basse.
One is hardly on the way to feeling reconciled when another blow throws one into a state of opposition…
I have also seen the number of the “Signale,” with the piece in it which won the prize: it is, looked at as a whole, what I call a heap of misery. No good ever comes out of a thing like that. There are four or five fugues in it (certainly four) and with such a miserable theme, what sense is there in turning it round 12 times? And then giving it a prize for composition?…
Washington is a really beautiful town, with an artistic plan, laid out by a Frenchman a hundred years ago… The country is radiant in its spring beauty. Now I shall soon know it all. Not just the few towns on the “Pacific“ coast.
Hanson in his reply to-day says that my little letter about America is “magnificent”… God, but I have a feeling for the country! I have sacrificed three years of my life here, and shall be obliged to sacrifice as many again, and Benni was born here, and they have received me very heartily, and if everything goes according to plan I shall have to thank them for my little bit of wealth! I cannot “overlook” all this any more!
I shall close my letter on this D major chord, that it may gladden you more than the others I have written of late which were very depressed…

Literary P.S.
This Strindberg is a fearful man! I have read the book of plays called “Kammerspiele” (which he calls “Dramas by a man of sixty, in 1910“) and I must say they make me hold my breath. But if the wisdom which comes with age only makes one bitterly angry and allows only bacteria to be seen in every drop of water, so that every joy in the flowing well of life is destroyed! then let us remain foolish or die young.
What Strindberg sees is terribly true, but he arrives at his truths by way of unimportant details. That will always be the weakness in his great talent. His amateurishness in music is laughable. The technical certainty is imposing. His taste plays him stupid tricks. He writes about unpleasant things and has not got the humour necessary to make them enjoyable.
I wonder if it is possible to perform these plays?…

ST. LOUIS, 16 April 1910.

Yet another 26 hours towards the West and then - eastwards, and gradually homewards…
The “Musical Courier” emphasizes the fact that I have brought a new tone into concert life. After the second tour I believe I shall possess enough authority to make experiments here too. Here is something which occurred to me during a conversation with X yesterday. It must be possible to realize everything that people think of (however daring it may be): for the power of imagination is made up of things which exist and the idea itself proves that somewhere or other a reason for it already exists.
Telling X that one day someone would discover an apparatus which would make a piano tune itself, made me think this out. “That is impossible,” said X quickly. I said, “Everything is possible until the opposite is proved.” And the realization of my idea must be possible, because it came into my head. And it is the combination of many things which I have already seen and of which I have heard. They can build an instrument now which registers automatically exactly how much the strings slacken. That is the first step towards my idea.
It is impossible to talk to X in symbols; he takes it all literally. If I say, “Do that for me to-day, you won’t lose anything by it” (it is a free day), X looks in his pockets at once to see if he has lost anything.
Or if I say, “You don’t know the charm of the wine countries - wine makes the poor rich:” X says, “The wine industry?”
“To build up,” for him means to put up houses: “To feel rich” - to possess money: “To stand alone,” to have no companions for meals and no financial help: “A good concert“ - a full house and many encores. It is astounding. The Americans and Red Indians can learn nothing from, one another.
And this occurred to me too; one discovery destroys an earlier one. Since elevators came into use here they have ceased to use steps. In towns, squares and gardens have disappeared because people live in the suburbs. Or: the necessity for applause ceases when listening to a gramophone; or: the art of fortifications is lost because of the invention of cannon: there is a dearth of literature because there are so many newspapers and monthly magazines; and so on- - one could make a dictionary of it all.
And this is the way one babbles when one is tired…

DENVER, 18 April 1910.

Denver is really quite nice and is a little centre, but to get here one has to travel across the Steppes, past tents and young men on horseback, who are beginning a completely new life. With horses, pistols, tents and a couple of ploughs, they make a new way through difficult country. And these courageous, primitive instruments of civilization are badly nourished and have only the meanest pleasures of life to cheer them. There is something grand in it! It makes a great impression on one! Splendid fellows, in spite of the lack of cultivation which can be seen in the expression in their faces. Tall, strong and agile, and not bad or dishonest…
I had a beautiful idea in the train yesterday. I thought I would arrange the great fugue for orchestra. Transcribe the choral prelude (Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu dir) as an Introduction to it and let this recur as a reminiscence just before the Stretta in the fugue.
“It would be a great work!” But who will give me a second life?…
The opera has to be worked out most carefully and occasional improvements, completions, and enlargements have to be made. I will not do it in a hurry….
Here we are again, 5,000 ft. up. I had a bad night, the air takes away my breath.
From here I begin to move slowly homewards now: I have still 100 things to wind up during the last week. People meet my wishes in every espect. I need only express the wish. There is much that is good in the country. The artistic side of it is small and that makes many things easier. With my concerts and Wüllner’s, the whole concert season was provided for. On the whole, that would be unthinkable in Europe, wouldn’t it?…
I wonder if Mexican lace interests you? I understand nothing about it. I really don’t know what to bring away from here - one can’t stick sky-scrapers and suspension bridges in one’s trunk- -
I am certain that our reunion will be a very, very beautiful one… What about the summer holiday? England! Switzerland! Hm....

DENVER, 18 April 1910.

If Chicago is the heart of America, then Denver is the appendix. Such a blind alley! One knows nothing of geography if one does not travel!…
I will try to translate something I read in an Indian story because it sounds so far away from everything of this country:

“And I could tell thee stories, that would make thee laugh at all thy trouble, and take thee to a land, of which thou hast never even dreamed. Where the trees have ever blossoms, and are noisy with the humming of intoxicated bees. Where by day, the suns are never burning, and by night, the moonstones ooze with nectar in the rays of the camphor-laden moon. Where the blue lakes are filled with rows, of silver swans, and where, on steps of lapis-lazuli, the peacocks dance in agitation at the murmur of the thunder in the hills. Where the lightning flashes without harming, to light the way to women, stealing in the darkness to meetings with their lovers, and the rainbow hangs for ever like an opal on the dark blue curtain of the clouds. Where, on the moonlit roofs of crystal palaces, pairs of lovers laugh at the reflection of each other’s lovesick faces in goblets of wine : breathing as they drink air heavy with the fragrance of the sandal, wafted on the breezes from the mountain of the South: where they play and pelt each other with emeralds and rubies, fetched at the churning of the ocean from the bottom of the sea. Where rivers, whose sands are always golden, flow slowly past long lines of silent cranes that hunt for silver fishes in the rushes on their banks: where men are true and maidens love for ever, and the lotus never fades.”

What do you say to that? It brings tears to my eyes.
“But there is no such thing,” X. would say.
O disillusionment! O Poetry!
They are as opposed as poor and rich.
A cowboy has just galloped past my window on horseback. I love having the writing table in the window, one is alone and yet in contact with the world outside. Unfortunately “the dear yellow car“ has just passed by too, which wakes me out of dreams everywhere in America.
Here the spring is late, the trees are not in bud yet. But we had the company of the Mississippi for a couple of hours, on the journey from St. Louis. What a view! Big and beautiful at the same time. The season, the sunset, the virginal purity of this immense beauty makes an unforgettable picture! One shudders at the thought of people interfering with it…

CHICAGO, 25 April 1910.

I have spent some very pleasant hours here with Stock…
He is a very intelligent and able musician: he also has a certain serious idealism and is very conscientious. At the same time a dear fellow and obviously honest.
Good God, the method they have here of turning people into celebrities makes one’s heart sink into one’s boots. Is it possible such a small, ordinary person like X can really be a great artist? Even from an “opera singer’s standpoint”? I cannot believe it, and I have never heard of her being extraordinarily good in any of her roles. But every nigger knows her name. And if you give them Debussy with his three muted violins, one half-muted horn and a melody consisting of two whole tones - they are transported with delight!
It is true that such errors have existed in all ages, and to be popular means, “to be on everybody’s tongue.” We have experienced it with Mascagni and Grieg and - outlived it.
The day before yesterday at the last symphony concert I heard the following programme:

Overture, Fliegender Holländer
Symphony (III), Brahms
Till Eulenspiegel, Strauss
Aufforderung zum Tanz, Weber-Weingartner
Overture 1812, Tschaikowsky

Of all these, Wagner’s youthful work is the one which stands the test of time best, and is the strongest too. The symphony by Brahms made an unhappy impression on me: it is a ghost of the Leipzig school. (And it is not long ago that I heard the very first performance of this symphony in Vienna. At that time people felt as if they were standing before a sphinx.)
Strauss’s Eulenspiegel sounded like a modern Papa Haydn in his most naïve mood, making the old Vienna aristocrats laugh with him.
I let Weingartner and Tschaikowsky alone, and went for a walk in the snowstorm, when I had leisure to reflect.
As you read this letter I shall be, I think, already on the boat and you will know - from the telegram which I shall send and which you have already received (that always confuses me!) that I start on the 3rd, and that I shall have started - enfin. Kant is right; time is only an idea. I have still got a lot to do till then and to my poor head it seems to be even more than it really is.
Life has taken another turning, this time an outward one and I am not yet clear about its significance - and whether it will harmonize with the inner turning. I thought I had finished with the glitter of external things and I hoped, in my own home, to seek for what I could not find outside - and now it seems as if everything wished to begin all over again. In any case one cannot complain of boredom…

NEW YORK, 29 April 1910.

Now it is over, the farewell concert took place yesterday evening in Brooklyn; a good finish, the hall sold out, the atmosphere festive. But it finished off my nerves - look at the programme! [1]
And look, please, for a moment at this time-table, and try to go with me in thought:

25 April 10 o’clock Evening leave Chicago
26 “ 9 “ Morning arrive Cleveland
26 “ 4-6 “ To Oberlin
7-9 “ Concert there
9.30--11.30 Back from Oberlin
27 “ 2 a.m. Leave Cleveland
6 p.m. Arrive in New York

After yesterday’s concert I could not get to sleep till 3 and at eight to-day I was out of bed again - because I could not rest. And now comes the so-called recreation! God help me!
After having actually been a “Preacher in the Desert,” in the “deserted West,” the cultured public of Brooklyn was in a way refreshing…
Now America has been discovered for the third time (and by an Italian again!). I only missed investigating that little piece of coast on the “Pacific“ Ocean…
I have an enormous amount to do during these days, and the boat goes 2 days sooner than I expected…
All good wishes for a joyful, happy reunion, beloved wife, and may all goodness and love be with you until then and for ever!…

[1] It contains Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata: Brahms’ Paganini Variations: The B Minor Scherzo: 2 Nocturnes in F Major and E Minor: The A Flat Polonaise by Chopin: The Abegg-Variations by Schumann: The Erlkönig: Campanella: and the 6th Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt.


MONTREAL, 13 February 1911.

It was spring when we left New York, and here today the cold is pitiless and there are immense masses of snow…
The day before yesterday, in the evening, at the Italian Restaurant I sat next to Prince Troubetzkoy, a man of great personality; with a cardinal’s face!
Last Sunday, the “Boston Herald” had a cutting from the year 1863. Amongst the musical news, one read: - “Adelina Patti is still singing“(!): further on an announcement that Messrs. Steinway had bought a piece of ground in 14th Street in order to build a house of their own. No word of the Boston Symphony yet. Teresa Carreño plays “The Mocking Bird“ at the “White House“ (as a child). The pupils and friends of Mercadante had arranged a festival for him in Naples. That was 48 years ago. Adelina Patti is still singing, Carreño still playing, Steinways have reached a high position, but where is Mercadante? Do not look back, is what I say…

NORTHAMPTON, 15 February 1911.

…It was quite beautiful in Montreal, winter weather such as you like (but too cold). Very good concert, and the people whom you know all sent you hearty greetings.
That we are in New England to-day is unmistakable. The servants in the hotels are old girls in spectacles; it reminds one of a hospital. God punish grumblers, they are his most wicked servants!
I an rather at the end of my patience, but I must not be childish, so I pull myself together.
I miss you everywhere, but am glad for your sake that you are at home, and that you need no longer run round with me like a tight-rope dancer…
I hope to earn some reward and to be able to enjoy it, when I see you again…

BOSTON, 18 February 1911.

I sat in the orchestra yesterday, and heard “Don Quixote” by Richard Strauss. It is a work which has great qualities; commonplace in the lyrical places, unusually exciting in the grotesque parts, naïve in a boorish way and yet on the other hand too cultivated: badly put together as regards form, but the daring texture of sound is excellent. On the whole, one of the most interesting works of our time and the richest in invention; perhaps the composer’s best work. I listened with attention and in places with the greatest pleasure. But I should like to hear it conducted by Strauss himself. I could see in Turandot how much is spoilt by X’s conducting. No illustration of Don Quixote has quite satisfied me, Strauss does not either; but I believe it belongs to the better, more intellectual, and less literal ones. I admit willingly that beside this work, Turandot, mutilated as it was, is less brilliant, and happily I have developed enough to be able to recognize this myself. Strauss reminds me of Tiepolo and I feel the reaction of the Cornelius school coming, but perhaps without the stiffness and awkwardness of the “Nazarenes.” Possibly the appearance of Palestrina after the early Netherlanders would supply a better parallel for the change we may expect to see. I am looking forward so much to my work in the summer and autumn. My concentration has been absorbed here, by always having to overcome a feeling of impatience, and the dislike of compulsion. I am like one who is obliged to lie with a broken leg: but who has nothing else wrong with him, and waits until he can walk and move about again. I say once more, I must not throw away my good years. The position in my development as a composer would already be quite different if it had not been for the long interruptions and having to connect up again so laboriously. I have only four months in the year in which to produce some better work and then I have to take a little step backwards. I don’t complain, I only want to be clear about it…
To-day I hope you are in England and that you are light-hearted and well… There are still ten more days in February, which will be busy ones for me and which will pass quickly. After that, every day makes a day less in March. La peau de chagrin! or the ass’s skin…

NEW YORK, 19 February 1911.

…To-day I walked for three hours down over Bovary as far as Brooklyn Bridge; quite interesting but not exciting and not nearly so picturesque as Amsterdam, for example.
Witek said something very apt about his impressions here.
“I am surprised,” he said, “that there is so much that is old-fashioned, almost mediaeval here.” Mr. Pickett was rather sentimental in Boston, and sighed, “Old Boylston Street” in the tone of voice in which a Viennese would exclaim “die Schtêfans-kirch’n.”
The Americans like to pretend (adopting a warm tone) to see something old in their country, which inspires affection. “The dear old place, you know.”…
In Boston yesterday, I became acquainted with young Bock of Bote and Bock, who expressed a wish that we might work together.
Yes, but what shall I give him? American Concert programmes! With fingering!
S. “gossips” in a humorously benevolent way about Reger in the “Sonstags Staats” newspaper: but the way in which he abuses Strauss’ Rosenkavalier is almost indecent. Whatever critics write, one always asks oneself, “Why?”
Turandot “pleased“ in Boston and was praised in the papers. I wish very much that it could be put on the stage, for that is the only place to which it belongs.
This thought has already improved my mood.
I am expecting your news quite impatiently, but I shall still have to wait…

NEW YORK, 22 February 1911.

The day before yesterday, in the evening at Schirmer’s it so happened that not only Dr. von Hase was there, but also a son of Zimmermann’s. It is comical, for they are my three publishers.
At dinner Mahler said something very good. “I have found,” he said, “that people in general are better (more kindly) than one supposes.” “You are an optimist,” here interposed a fat American woman. “And more stupid,” Mahler concluded, quickly, addressing the lady.
The first performance of the Berceuse took place yesterday evening. Toscanini came.
After two recalls for Mahler, I was obliged to bow twice to the audience (from my box). “The audience doesn’t like the piece, but it likes me,” I remarked. The Berceuse belongs to a type of music which does not suit Mahler so well as the rhythm and drums of Turandot. But the piece is effective, and I still almost believe that it can achieve a kind of popularity.
“Like a fine coloured Japanese woodcut,” said Schindler.
There was no Celesta, instead of it an upright piano - didn’t sound so bad as I feared.
It is almost uncanny, the way in which the dates are getting filled up.

February 23rd, Boston Symphony, New York
24th, “ “ Brooklyn
25th, “ “ New York
27th, “ “ Hartford
28th, Recital in Boston
March 2nd, Afternoon Soirée at Frau Untermyer (Count Apponyi as guest)
Evening Recital at Brooklyn
5th, Recital at Chicago
6th, Des Moines
7th, Omaha
9th, Kansas City
10th, Sedalia
14th, First Concert in California.

Now I must practise… I have four different Recitals and three different Concertos to play.
Others things I want to do - from now on - have to be crossed out.
Think a little of my worries, and love me…

NEW YORK, 24 February 1911.

…In the Italian Restaurant I met Consolo, the pianist, who knows Prince Troubetzkoy, and I got to know him too.
Close to, his face looks “clean-shaven“; one thinks (although one sees him for the first time) that one must have known him before with a big beard and that he must have taken it off suddenly.
He is simple, interesting, original, but has the same kind of naïve, philosophical, quiet obstinacy, that all Russians have, who think, or wish to think.
He was born in Italy (and speaks more Italian than Russian) and has a Swedish wife. Lives in Italy - Paris - Stockholm and (least of all) in Russia. Reads no books at all, for some Russian-philosophical reason which is not clear: is in favour of everything natural and open-air (theoretically), but smokes and gives exhibitions in New York.
Consolo is very sympathetic, tactful, and cultivated. It was one of the nicest “evenings“ I have had in America.
Mahler can not conduct the repetition of the Italian Concert himself to-day… When you read this, I shall probably be between Omaha and Kansas City. One sees the world….

NEW YORK, 25 February 1911.

I seem to have a clear head again to-day (it has not been clear for a long time and I was very unhappy) and so I write to you with a newly awakened joy of life. How good it is that the earth goes round. Yesterday I had much to do, and yet too little. You will soon understand why.
At two o’clock I was asked to conduct my Berceuse myself, Mahler ill and absent.
The concert began at 2.30, but it was almost four o’clock before it was my turn to stand on the platform for those ten minutes.
A rehearsal was arranged at 6.30 in Brooklyn for the Todtentanz to-day…. Back again at ten o’clock and at 10.30 I was in Astor.
In this way, I was obliged to waste eight hours in order to be employed for three-quarters of an hour. The work itself was rather pointless and did not further anything. It is like sharpening a pencil which is already sharp.
This evening I shall probably be with Toscanini, who, it seems, was charmed with the Berceuse. That may help the Opera - when once it is finished.
And when once it is finished, my own work will begin….

NEW YORK, 26 February 1911.

Collectedness belongs to Art, freedom to travelling. If one unites Art and travelling, both are losers.

NEW YORK, 28 February 1911.

Last Sunday (the 26th) I was at Toscanini’s. He lives in a private suite in a big hotel and keeps his own Italian cook.
It was the most pleasant evening I have spent, since you left. The food was excellent and the conversation animated and interesting, right up to midnight.
Consolo was there. I played them the Sonatina, the Mephisto Waltz, the St. Francis legends. I was brought still more into the right atmosphere by a Steinway which thunders and sustains the tone (it is so long since I had this pleasure!). Toscanini is the most intelligent musician I have met up till now (with perhaps the exception of Strauss). Tremendously lively, quick, farsighted, and artistic.
He repeated whole pages out of my aesthetic. I mean, he spoke my thoughts and did not say one word which I could not corroborate with my whole heart. He seemed to have a particular sympathy for me, for (according to Consolo) it is seldom he is so communicative.
He looks scarcely thirty years of age, but he is forty-four. His blindness is a fable. He does not even use glasses. His memory is a phenomenon in the annals of physiology; but this does not impede his other faculties as is often the case with such abnormalities. He had just studied the very difficult score of Dukas’ “Ariadne et Barbe-Bleue” and the next morning he was going to take the first rehearsal - from memory! But such achievements must wear him out; he is a bundle of nerves… I hope with all my heart that life will bring me still more closely in touch with him…

NEW YORK, 1 March 1911.

So this day has arrived, and this month, too, will come to an end one day! But to me now it seems so far off as to be unattainable… I must prepare a new programme for Brooklyn, so there is no pause at all - I am freezing from fatigue. On the third I must do all the packing up for the West, for I do not come back again to New York for a month. There will be no prospect of any thought or similar luxuries. The evening walk is suspended. Perhaps in California - but there too, so much is crowded in, and it is, strictly speaking, the question of a “Debut” again.
“How long will this go on?”

CHICAGO, 4 March 1911.

I have read with great pleasure about the beautiful impressions, of the pleasant hours in England and of your cheerful and receptive feeling. It is, perhaps, the first time too that you have been able to be happy alone; and again it occurs to me that everything that pleases lies in oneself and nowhere else…
I am all the more pleased that you have felt so well over there, as you have missed nothing here. It is only a hurried repetition of everything. Now, it is true, comes the promised California, like a Fata Morgana; the Land that is praised so highly (perhaps praised too much) but there is neither the time, desire, nor freedom to enjoy it and I am prepared for a disappointment. Here are the dates:

March 5th Chicago
6th Des Moines
7th Omaha
9th Kansas City
10th Sedalia
14th Los Angeles
15th Pasadena (suburb)
17th Los Angeles
19th S. Francisco
21st “
22nd Oakland (suburb)
25th Seattle
26th Portland
31st Cincinnati
April 1st “

I am reading a long novel by Wells, this time a serious one. The changes in this man are wonderful and this book must put him in the first rank of novelists. He brings deepened feeling to it and a stream of ideas; he keeps his humour (freed from common-place humour) and gives the feeling that he has digested the experiences of life. What pleasure to watch such a development; what happiness to experience it oneself!…
Dear Gerda, I write every day, but you must reckon that the letters are always one day further away from you. But then, nearer again and nearer until the last one arrives at the same time as your deeply loving and grateful

DES MOINES, 6 March 1911.

In Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, the recitals were sold out. In both the last towns I played very well. Yesterday, in Chicago, particularly so. Six recalls after the Liszt Sonata ! I am not practising any more now. I can do no more and there is nothing more new to be done. The last two weeks were very hard and I feel exhausted.
My head feels burnt out…
Travelling and concerts go on now, until the 1st of April. Hanson now is agitating about the next tour…

KANSAS CITY, 9 March 1911.

…I am convalescent to-day, after a severe attack of influenza (or something similar). Hanson’s people have been pitiless and I have been obliged to play with fever and pain and last night was the first time since the fourth of March that I have had a long enough night’s rest.
Now it is all rather better; the weather is so lovely that one can sit with the window wide open and enjoy it…
My ideas slumber, I am morally blunted, physically feeble and generally depressed and everything looks grey.
All the same, Fräulein Curtis received a half-awake letter from me, about making use of the Red Indian motives. I believe my idea of beginning quite gradually with them is right; with small experiments at first (like attempts to fly).
It is absurd to make a Symphony with Indian melodies, after the Leipzig model (like Dvo_ák), or a Meyerbeer-ish opera (like Herbert’s recent one). It needs a great deal of study to get inside the Indian life.
I thought at first of putting one or two scenes into one act, with Red Indian ceremonies and actions (very simple) and to join them together with one of the usual “eternal“ stories; mother, son, bride, war, peace, without any subtleties. It requires the highest kind of subtlety to listen to music of that kind and to reproduce it correctly.
I owed Miss Curtis some such small “sketch,” for she had taken much trouble to write out and explain the melodies.
Possibly, it may not remain a sketch. I have been looking so long for something unusual and short for my next work.
Up to now, the book by Wells gives what it promised. “I feel we might do so many things, and everything that calls one, calls one away from something else.” This is in it amongst other things. There are five hundred very closely printed pages, and so far I have hardly finished 150; for they are closely thought, too, as just that little sentence shows. As far as I have read, the book gives the impression of an autobiography, just as good as Rousseau’s Confessions or Alfieri’s Vita (scritta da esso stesso). Looked at like that, it is the truest form of novel. It is also written in the first person. The title, “The New Machiavelli,” refers to a statesman of genius, who, in retirement, makes a record of his ideas…

SEDALIA, 10 March 1911.

When, to-day, I received your first letter from home (after a whole month!) I cried. The children’s welcome must have made you happy. I am better, things look more cheerful again. Yesterday, I had a dream about a place with the high and light name of Montesole, in Tuscany. It was no dream, but a conversation with my “friend,” Walter. I will tell you more about it. To-day, I must quickly put into words my joy over your letter and show you my happy face again, again, after the bad, grey weeks. I kiss you all and say Auf Wiedersehen.
(which sounds Indian too).

LOS ANGELES, 13 March 1911.

We left Sedalia on the 10th, midnight, and have been travelling until 2.30 to-day - the 13th. The route took us from the State of Missouri, past Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, to California. Most of the way (for almost two whole days) we travelled through desert, enlivened somewhat by a background of mountain chains (now and then with fantastic shapes) and red rock.
I was passive (still convalescent) and the three days passed - completely thrown away, it is true - but peacefully!
To-day, about mid-day, there was some vegetation to be seen at last; at first wild stumps of palms and cactus in the sand, and then suddenly, the richest culture of orange groves. The town is an American provincial town (at least at first sight) with skyscrapers, and the usual street sights. It is a fresh wonder to me every day how such a town, so tasteless and bare, could be built in such a country. Why must this marvellous gift of Nature be besmeared in such a way? The most unsympathetic people, Japanese or Jesuits, would have built something more beautiful. What is this pride they have of being “practical“ ?…
I am writing to you to-day about my arrival, and when you read it I shall be in the East again; so these complaints will only have a sense of the past, or an abstract sense, and you must think no more about them. But the moment is uncomfortable, and will it be a comfort later to know that it went by miserably? Besides, you feel with me now (even if we cannot be in direct contact with one another). Sometimes I think you are right and that the North is more cheerful…

LOS ANGELES, 15 March 1911.


It can be said - contradict it who may - that Wagner was the first to recognize melody as the supreme law, not only theoretically. On the whole, the older art of composition suffers from a neglect of melody. Unconsciously we feel another standard in the classical works and we do not measure them so strictly.
The broad strokes of the brush found in the later symphonic compositions are missing in the pre-Wagner music. There the “eight-bar sentence“ reigns supreme, which, for our feeling, seems a short breath. The quality of the music, too, within these eight bars is more primitive than that of the symphonic music.
With Beethoven, this strikes one most forcibly in his Second period, which is the weakest, and is exemplified in its principal compositions, the 5th Symphony, the Waldstein Sonata, the Appassionata, and the three Quartets, Op. 59.
I should like to repeat - and let them contradict me again - that in Beethoven’s first period feeling conquers helplessness in the third feeling stands above the mastery which he has gained. But in the second period feeling is overshadowed by symphonic breadth and symphonic brilliance. Beethoven, in his second period, exploits the forceful ideas contained in the first.
The heroically passionate defiance of the “Pathétique“ continues to be the basis for all pieces similar in feeling (only more extended) in the following period, headed by the Fifth Symphony. But the melodic element does not keep step with this extension and gets lost in - -what shall I call it? - a kind of table-land of modulatory and figurative eloquence. I am thinking, for example, of the working out in the first movement of the “Appassionata“ where the persistent rush and intensity of temperament fills the place where the content should be.
In this case it is more as if the thrilling eloquence and infectious conviction of an orator were making the effect, rather than his theme or the wealth of his ideas. It makes an effect, accordingly, on larger masses of people and with a more direct impact. Temperament disguises not only the content, but the feeling too; although it may not appear to be like this.
The deepest feeling needs the fewest words and gestures. It is an historical commonplace, repeated like a continuous cinematograph performance, that as each new composition appears it is accused of a lack of melody. I have read this kind of accusation in criticisms after the first performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and Wagner’s operas. And it is always taken for granted that the increase in technical complications is the reason for the decrease in melodic invention.
It almost seems as if technical mastery makes its effect by being unusual, whereas melody is only perceived as such when it appears in commonplace and familiar ways.
But as a matter of fact Mozart, as a maker of melodies, was richer than his predecessors; Beethoven broader, more ingenious than Mozart, and Wagner more voluptuous than Beethoven (if perhaps less noble and original).
Beethoven himself in his third period - at times in the string quartets - dissolves the rigid symphonic mechanism into melody and - psychology. Wagner was more material; and it is against this materialism that some living composers are trying to re-act.
Immaterialism is the true being of music; we are on the track of it; we wander through narrow underground corridors at the end of which a strange, distant, phosphorescent light gives us a glimpse of the passage leading out into a marvellous grotto.
When once we have reached the vaulted room in nature’s mysterious palace, then our souls can learn to soar with speech and it will sound for ever, like a blossoming and exalted melody…

LOS ANGELES, 15 March 1911.

This is one of those days when one waits passively for sunset, in order to put one’s head, which is heavy and indolent, out of doors. Clothes stick; one doesn’t like sitting, one doesn’t like standing, and least of all does one like lying down.
It is a great error to suppose that because I am a good (and also effective) artist, I should - or could - be brought into contact with the Public (in general)!
Artists have as much to do with the public as religion with the church. I mean, religion belongs to something inside, something personal (like talent); the church is an “Institution,” ostensibly for the average masses, in reality for the benefit of the priests. Wells tells his countrymen similar truths (at last) in his excellent book.
This has given me the greatest pleasure ever since the 27th February, when I bought it. Listen how finely Wells has developed.

“That something greater than ourselves which does not so much exist as seek existence, palpitating between being and not being, how marvellous it is! It has worn the form and visage of ten thousand different Gods, sought a shape for itself in stone, ivory, and music and wonderful words, spoken more and more clearly of a mystery of love, a mystery of unity, dabbling meanwhile in blood and cruelty beyond the common impulses of man. It is something that comes and goes, like a light that shines and is withdrawn; withdrawn so completely that one doubts if it has ever been.”

In the middle of writing sentences like these, I received a telegram from Hanson: “Congratulations on the great success in Los Angeles, means very much for the future.” My God!!
…Am I then someone who seeks a future in California? But perhaps he means California’s future. (I wish it every possible prosperity.)
And just à propos, I read in Wells:

“Most of the good men we know are not doing the very best work of their gifts; nearly all are a little adapted, most are shockingly adapted to some second-best use.”
To-day, I had the idea (very uncertain and visionary) of an Indian Rhapsody for piano and orchestra.
Monte-Sole is a small estate in Settignano, where my friend Walter, from Kansas City, used to live, and it is to be sold. They made my mouth water by talking about it, and I will investigate the matter. I find pleasure in the name alone. Besides this, Settignano is in one of the best wine districts (it lies behind Fiesole, I believe).
Enfin, you see my mind begins to wake up a little. To-day has been the first free day, without travelling or concert, for three weeks. (I have discontinued practising since Chicago)… If only it were not so hot! It is like an illness and I have hardly recovered from the hellish week between Chicago and the journey here…
I kiss you and the boys, you are very near to me…

LOS ANGELES, 17 March 1911.

One breathes again. It has become cool. I only received “Die Ratten” by Hauptmann, yesterday. I have read it, but am still too close to the impression to be able to look at it. It may seem strange, but as I read it, I kept on seeing Zille’s drawings. There is much in it, and something - something important - is missing. Don’t know yet what. It is very alive. In the list of Hauptmann’s works, the “Versunkene Glocke” has the greatest number of editions. O,o!…
The palms in the middle of this American town make an improbable effect. English-American industry, and tropical vegetation! Like a volume of Byron amongst account books.
I shall soon turn my back on it all. To-day my nerves are quieter; they were strained to breaking point….

S. FRANCISCO, 20 March 1911.

The only time I was in Nice, there was snow. Here it is cool and cloudy. They have given me no time or opportunity to recover from influenza and so I have dragged round the remains of it with me. I am too tired to long for new impressions, or to enjoy them; but from what I have seen up to now, it seems there is nothing here which might not be found in Italy; and much that Italy has is to be sought for here in vain.
I played yesterday, four hours after my arrival from a twenty hours’ journey. I played well and had a success. I have to travel another thirty-two hours from here to Seattle! It takes three days, or more, to get to Cincinnati from Portland!
…Chickering, without any scruples, wished to send me to Honolulu. That is no exaggeration, for yesterday, their representative really made the suggestion!! “It is a very interesting trip,” he said.
It is sad that I receive no letter, and it is oppressive. I hope every day, every day. It is really like a bad dream. I feel as if I were being posted like a parcel…

S. FRANCISCO, 21 March 1911.

It is indeed - or rather, it should be! - moving to see this town half in ruins and half new and unfinished, defying the elements, if such an expression as “moving” can be applied to any American undertaking…
It was not the earthquake but the fire, which broke out in fifty places at the same time, that made the disaster. In order to isolate the fires, they blew up the houses which lay between, with dynamite. It lasted five days…
It is spring the whole year here, and mediocre people without any deeper interests or ambition have nothing left to wish for. Imagination, of course, belongs to “wishing.” If I were rich, said the idler, I should look out of the window all day long, and spit…
A group of musicians has settled here… (German and Italian)… The Germans attacked my playing. They are busy “keeping up the traditions” on the Pacific Ocean; conscientious people! What harm a rat-hole like Leipzig can do! The Italians behaved very patriotically.

S. FRANCISCO, 22 March 1911.

Yesterday came the fat letter from you… A smaller one would have given me equal joy!
The battle of S. Francisco ended yesterday. “Busoni won the battle,” says one newspaper… And to-day another said, “When I am somewhat older, I may become a serious artist yet”…
Now, as things are better, I can tell you that the day before yesterday, and yesterday, I was quite miserable.
There are still a couple of big journeys, then - Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth,
Deinem gewisz gut-gewillten
Dich liebenden FERRO-MANN.

SEATTLE, 25 March 1911.

We have got quite a long way north again. Yesterday we travelled through “regular“ Tyrolean or Styrian scenery, with wet fir-woods and a rainbow against banks of clouds. To-day, too, the sky looks as it does in the mountainous parts in Austria; stormy, with the sun breaking through…
Your letter of the 8th has just come…
On that day I was in bed in Kansas City, with raging influenza… In Los Angeles the heat finished me off. The journey here from there lasts two whole days and two nights.
From California onwards, the niggers have almost disappeared, and in their places there are masses of Chinese. They serve in the hotels, sometimes Japanese, too.
The little voyage from S. Francisco to Oakland over the bay was quite beautiful, but for me not exciting, for I was no longer susceptible to impressions. For this reason, I have almost no impression of California!…
It is true that I have suffered very much this time and everything becomes more and more difficult for me. To confine my years of intellectual strength and to cripple them in this way, is torture to me. Added to this, I see nothing of life, and have no pleasures. (Just a good hotel is like a present from destiny.)…
My coat of arms, the ass’s head with a garland, I shall soon hack in pieces.
I have corresponded with Miss Curtis about the possibility of developing the Red Indian melodies, and I have pointed out the radical faults in all the attempts to use them up to now. To-day she writes to me: “Your letter is like your book. A few words which disclose a view from the mountain top.”
Unfortunately, one cannot do everything oneself. I con-stantly think of those words in Wells’s book: “The most excellent being adapted to some second-best use”…

CHICAGO, 30 March 1911.

…This evening we go to Cincinnati (in order to celebrate my birthday). How I shall play the E flat concerto by Beethoven there, without fingers, without mind and without rehearsal, God knows. But so much has been all right up to now that this will be all right too. Mahler has not conducted since the 21st February. Spiering took his place on the 24th and remained and will remain until the end of the season. It was very creditable that an averagely good violinist should show so much présence d’esprit, and was able to carry through the performance fairly well. But - ! The behaviour of the New York audience and the critics over the matter will remain in my memory as one of my most painful experiences.
The sensation made by a leader of an orchestra being able to conduct unprepared, has made a greater impression on them than Mahler’s whole personality was ever able to do! Spiering has been exalted to the position of one of the greatest conductors, and they have spoken quite seriously about his continuing to fill the post. Not one word of regret has fallen about Mahler’s absence!! One reads of such things happening in history, but when it is a personal experience, one is filled with despair…
In the train I had much time to think and I thought of many things. I believe that I thought to good purpose.
I have almost accounted for the omnipresence of time; but I have not found out why we humans think of time as a line going from backwards, forwards, whilst it must be in all directions like everything else in the system of the world…
I have thought of many other things. And I always come to the conclusion that our music is only a lot of chirrup; this idea is no longer merely idealistic, for it can be proved logically. No, I do not write magazine articles on purpose; but all these questions crowd into my mind more and more and time is getting short. I must not throw a whole month’s work to the winds again, as I have done this time.
I think with serious joy of the journey home and I have the feeling that my most important period is beginning and that it is, I suppose, the definitive one. The joy is not less because it is serious; on the contrary, it is deeper. It is deep and beautiful, but it has lost all its youthfulness, like Rembrandt’s later self-portraits. Possibly, I shall be different again at home, and more like I was before. But however it will be, I rejoice inwardly with you all and myself, more fervently even than usual…

CINCINNATI, 31 March 1911.

…It is half-past twelve midnight in Berlin half-past seven: perhaps the household is already stirring and it is the 1st of April. I had quite a nice evening with Miss Burston, the first human evening for an eternity…
Petri gave an enormous Busoni Recital in Manchester; I only received the programme…

1 April, Morning.

…Now I am going to have a little lunch with the Italians here… I shall write more in the afternoon. I think so much of home, it is seven o’clock in the evening there.

1 April, Aftrnoon.

I was cunning enough to ask for letters in the other hotel, and happily, there lay a bundle! The news about the Brautwahl has given me great pleasure - more pleasure than anything. Of all the letters, the one from Lori was the most full of sentiment, and the simplest, and for that reason, the deepest in feeling.
…It is still the 1st of April, but it will soon be passed - “ Be off, be off,” said the watch - dog.
Many have written affectionately, and here, too, the people were very friendly…

NEW YORK, 7 April 1911.

…To-morrow I shall go on board. There, in tranquillity, I shall think out different things. I should like so much to have repose; but - I give it up…

(Addressed to Göhren auf Rügen)
BERLIN, 10 July 1911.

…To-day the morning was beautiful and productive; I have always postponed doing the worst part of the score; but now I must put up with doing it - and - go on to the end. It is so quiet up here, and the sun added to it gives an impression of Sunday. Sometimes, life seems so beautiful; as if it were one long holiday.
Yesterday evening, at eleven o’clock, I stood in the light of the full moon, in front of the mystical doors of the County Court building; the street was quite empty. It was like the atmosphere in The Magic Flute…

(Addressed to Göhren)
BERLIN, 15 July 1911.

Now to-day one of the most difficult sections is finished and there are 70 pages of MS. ready for printing…
Yesterday old Councillor Hase paid me a visit. We got on excellently with one another. Life has made him softer too. Now his sons begin to criticize him, and he implored me to go on with the Liszt Edition, so that they may not think he has undertaken something impossible. The Hungarians are quarrelling amongst themselves about this. Bartok is taking part in the Liszt Edition now…

(Addressed to Göhren)
BERLIN, 17 July 1911.

…I have read Balzac’s letters and Die Hoffnung auf Buddhismus. I have reached the point now of looking upon teaching, philosophies, and religions, as works of art, and I side with the art that has the best preacher. I hardly think that the individual will be happier or wiser for any of them, amongst the masses. I find that the shoemaker in the Bible, in the Thousand and One Nights, or in old Rome, is always the same shoemaker. And the artists, the priests, and the courtesans are the same.
When the soldier with a Bible in his left hand strikes out furiously with his right; or a Saracen cuts off heads whilst he talks about Mahomet; it is just the same thing.
Again you have a letter with a magazine article in it; but there is nothing new to tell you, and I don’t need to talk of myself to you; and it would be superfluous to assure you of my love, because you know that I always am and always remain your…

(Addressed to Göhren)
BERLIN, 18 July 1911.

Please be patient with this little essay.
On the whole, I have always thought very well of our epoch and considered it artistically interesting. But the impressions and the mood in which these impressions are formed fall together on to the floor of one’s soul and it is only later, when the mood has changed, that they can be separated.
Now, in this epoch, I see a real supremacy of its “three powers“:- -


After that, Jewish activity threatens to be supreme; the wish to pull individuals out of the masses and to stamp the individual into the masses. Money and Socialism try to eat each other up, like Siegfried and Fafner; Fafner and Siegfried.
Industry, with its noble aims of cheapness, quickness and mass production, is quixotic….
I wanted to tell you about these little reflections, as I tell you everything. Do not consider it dry…

(Addressed to Göhren)
BERLIN, 20 July 1911.

…The score has been my only thought. I have been sweating over this part of it, for it was five years old and badly put together. Now it is quite tidy. After this comes the last part, but that is very important and complicated; but better composed. And then, a long, big, deep sigh - (of relief).

VARESE, 4 September 1911.

I have now decided to remain in Varese until I make the return journey… The landscape here is most beautiful; the air very fresh. Everything pretty and pleasant…
Thanks for the newspapers. In the “Allgem. M.Z.,” a Dr. Friedhof [1] has tried to bury my Fantasie (Kleist calls a joke like that “Shakespearean in character“). He remarked that there was a modern current running through the work, which was not like Bach. “But how intelligent you are,” says Mark Twain, in a similar case. Or like Brahms, “Every donkey notices that…”

[1] The name means “churchyard.”

VARESE, September 1911.

This is the fourth night running that I have slept badly. It exhausts me…
Books don’t stimulate me; the Goncourt Journal does, it is true; but it always makes me melancholy. Staying in this hotel here is really nice and the weather continues to be brilliant. It is a memorable summer… I miss the piano, even if I do not play…
There is a new entertainment building, with the lovely Italian name: “Kursaal.” That characterizes present-day Italy. Amongst the attractions are - Roller Skating (in Italian, Skating Ring). They irritated me so much there, with their stupid, vain faces and the lifeless carriage of their bodies, that with my whole soul I wished that one of them might tumble and do himself some damage. Five minutes after, the “Master” fell and tore his left trouser completely in two at the knee. Was it my fault? “They will say you have the evil eye,” said Anzoletti. (They hold out their first and fifth fingers to keep off “the evil eye.”)


…It is the old story, I can sleep after I have done good work; if I do no work, I become nervous.
The evenings here are not refreshing. It is like slow murder. Only the landscape is magical (in these moonlight nights)…
But it would be psychologically interesting to know why during peaceful periods I have fewest ideas, and become unpeaceful myself . - Query - .
But of all summer resorts or similar speculative places that I know, I find the nicest here. I find my impression confirmed again; that it is the country that is most alive in Italy, not the towns…

(Addressed to Stockholm)
VARESE, 9 September 1911.

…I have moved to Anzoletti’s. I couldn’t bear it any longer in the hotel, after six nights without sleep and in anxiety. Last night I went to bed quietly again and slept. Ratschi-Potschi!
Varese pleases me more and more; and it is very varied. I am in a continual state of amazement over the landscape. The people are friendly, the women very pretty…
Have taken up my work again…

(Addressed to Stockholm)
BASLE, 13 September, 1911.

…But I am very uneasy. There is so much to be done and the opera has stuck (I knew it would!)… Hope on; hope ever…


LONDON, I5 March 1912.

It went very well yesterday, lasted two and a quarter hours. Adagio and Fugue Op. 106 and the Liszt Sonata were especially successful. For the first time I was able to practise five hours undisturbed the day before. The Paganini Variations [by Brahms] have become ”faded,” old maidish; although they were quite charming in their youth. Too little in them for virtuosity, or for serious music. Chopin’s Ballades keep fresher, but the 2nd and 3rd are remarkably badly composed…
I have allowed myself a small reward; the first edition of Gulliver, which I have found at last. It cost 70 marks, but it is worth it and may increase in value.
I do not find that London is so beautiful this time, although what one sees in the streets is quite different from anything one sees in Berlin. As the people speak softly, the quality of the sounds one hears is different from Paris and Italy. To make up for that, they love to hold concerts and services in open places here; it certainly doesn’t sound like an Italian Serenade!
The barrel-organs, too, are characteristic and so is the whistling to call a cab. But one never hears a human voice raised. Has that ever struck you?

LONDON, 17 March 1912.

Now Sunday has come; reflection of the English nation; amputation of life….
Everything repeats itself; London and Sunday; exhaustion and books. Just as it was 10 years ago…

LONDON, 18 March 1912.

I was at the ”Futurist“ Exhibition and had a thrilling impression from some of the pictures. It is true that not being quite well, and rather nervous, makes me very sensitive. Boccioni seems to me to be the strongest of them; he has a picture called “the Rising City“ which is really great. “Leaving the Theatre” by Carrà is excellent too. And “The Dance at Monico’s“ by Severini, whose work seems to be very unequal…
I had to tell you something about this whilst the impression is still vivid. (Unfortunately I can see that these people are already becoming old-fashioned.)
Anyhow it has refreshed and delighted me.

HAMBURG, 25 March 1912.

After the first incomplete impressions I have good hopes. [1] I heard half of the 2nd act in the orchestra and saw some of the scenery. The sets are very pretty. The instrumentation sounded well, although the orchestra is still uncertain and makes mistakes.
Frl. “Albertine” would like to accompany herself on the piano; but I hope to prevent this! At 5.30 we have a rehearsal with piano…

[1] This refers to the rehearsals for the first performance of the Brautwahl which took place 12 April 1912.

HAMBURG, 26 March 1912.

The rehearsal at the piano yesterday was very delightful. Thusman and Manasse are excellent. The Finale of the 2nd Act they sang particularly well. The scene by the pond too, I listened to with pleasure. The mise-en-scène made one realize that Reinhardt has spoilt us.
All the same, it will look quite well. I should like to have the moon at the close of the Pond Scene, and that seems to make difficulties.
“But we bought a beautiful new moon!” the stage manager called out to the machinist.
The problem of how to produce the magic play of sparks has been very well solved; the Church vision will also make an impression.
For the first day, anyhow, I had a number of beautiful impressions. I am going to the theatre again now. Auf wiedersehen, dear Gerda, I believe it will be good!

HAMBURG, 2 April 1912.

Yesterday evening was very full of impressions; and I had expected hardly any. For, first, I read a good deal of Villiers’ book; then, in Hamburg, by accident, I tumbled on Act III of the Walküre (I am allowed to go on the stage unhindered); and finally I met William Steinway in the hotel, with whom I discussed many things. The book ”L’Eve future“ is very unusual; with its mixture of subtle thought and leaning towards “baroque,” it is startlingly original, and has many reminiscences of other works; and for me, it is especially remarkable, because it contains a lot of problems which I have already considered myself. Its descent from Poe (Ligeia), Hoffmann (der Sandmann) and Wagner (exorcism of Kundry through Klingsor) is obvious.
What I heard of Wagner’s yesterday sounded horrible to me…
I could not wait for the beautiful ending which reconciles one to the whole. These Valkyries and these spears which are always being stamped on the ground; the senseless movements and the nonsensical immovableness; the orchestration which at times says too much and then too little - drove me out before Wotan began to take his leave: and - the libretto - !
I am just going to the rehearsal, will write later.
Now the rehearsal is over. It was taken at the piano. The Church scene sounds very good; all my youthful recollections of the Catholic atmosphere are in it. Leonhard is developing. He stands better on the stage. I mean the singer.
Yesterday I took an unopened letter with me. It was from Lessmann, for my birthday, addressed to the “Herr Composer”…
I still hope that all will go well.

HAMBURG, 6 April 1912.

I am extremely glad that you are coming to-morrow!…
The more work that is put into everything for the opera, the more wavering it becomes. The singing was good when they were alone; with the orchestra - less good; on the stage - still worse. Each one adds his own little inaccuracies and in the end there is a whole sum of them.
The last two days I have been quite crushed. The time is (as always!) too short…

(Addressed to Ringgenberg bei Interlaken)
BERLIN, 20 July 1912.

I am in a pleasant mood, although the weather has become grey, for (this is the principal reason) to-day I have finished another small work which is good: “Der Fantasia contrappuntistica Kleine Ausgabe” to which, as introduction, I wrote three Variations over the same choral (Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’), which are quite new.
Then to-day I received a letter and book called “Franziska” by Wedekind, from Munich. The Director of the theatre wants music for it, to be played between the acts; perhaps written for organ or a quartet. What do these theatre people, painters, and the like, really think that music is? Something parallel to obscuring the light, which can be used as padding between the acts. The organ is not at all suitable for the Wedekind play, as far as I have read it; for it seems to me that the attitude towards life in it is satirical and daring. That would be a misfit; like Grieg, when in all sincerity he wrote funeral music for Peer Gynt.
I will send you the book as soon as I have read it myself and please tell me your impression of it.
The “Rising City” hangs in your room. The picture grows on me more and more. It is very thrilling and the painting very skilful…

(Addressed to Ringgenberg)
BERLIN, 24 July 1912.

You have written so beautifully, that it made me feel quite pleasant and warm. I send you back all my love with equal warmth…. During the last few days I have been busy with the Wedekind. It is a Faust parody. Have thought over a plan, including orchestration, and how long it must last; and even sketched out the operetta and music. For before I decline to do it I must know: Why -
What do you think? Reasons for doing it:
1. Small and quite delightful work.
2. A big premiere.
3. Perhaps helps things in the future.
Against it:
1. Perhaps the whole trouble will be in vain.
2. It may be thought I am joining the Wedekind circle and cause misunderstanding.
3. It will spoil my own Faust idea for myself.
Will you tell me your opinion?
There are 12 small numbers to write, as I calculate, for an orchestra of only 20 (that attracts me very much).

(Addressed to Ringgenberg)
BERLIN, 28 July 1912.

I have had an idea just lately; it was an idea for a sonata with the following plan : Chaos - Restless work - Cheerfulness - Rest and beauty.
Prelude - Fugue - Scherzo - Adagio.
I am going to refuse, I think, the Wedekind Faustina (or a “discourse against love“).
Only wait for your opinion.

BERLIN, 29 July 1912.

Your letter has strengthened me in my decision to let the “Franziska” go. I knew I should! ; and to-day I wrote to Munich to refuse….

(Addressed to Ringgenberg)
BERLIN, 3 August 1912.

…I have been occupied with smaller things in between. For if I began a big work now I should have to put ”the Secret“ [1] on one side; and I am just in the right mood for it, intellectually and spiritually.
My plan for a sonata would not be so suitable for a string quartet. Power and contrast in sound would be lacking. Besides this, I have a feeling of duty towards the “piano”; I must give it a turn. For a quartet I should have to have a different train of thought .

[1] A proposed opera, “Das Geheimnis,” to a libretto by Karl Vollmoeller.

(Addressed to Ringgenberg)
BERLIN, 5 August 1912.

Even the imperial post has caprices! Two letters and a postcard from you have just reached me, at the same time (to my great joy). Because of Sunday!… Where is this Sunday in nature’s calendar? Although the origin of this human arrangement was founded in religion, it is not ”belief“ in religion which is harmful… (the bad thing is to hide one’s nature and be intolerant towards others). But what harm is there in “believing“ and what help is to be got from “not believing?” When I - with many struggles - had got materialistic teaching well into me, I thought I had achieved wonders; but I was no happier, rather less so! And how is it with Schopenhauer’s philosophy? - Still worse. Religion, so it seems to me, is like clothing; everyone must cut it to suit their own bodies, and wear it without giving too much offence to the passers by; in fact these should find it pleasing.
Everything is rather clearer now. Yesterday I finished the Brautwahl suite (a good piece!!). The changes I have made in the opera will not take more than a weeks. In September I shall be free to prepare for the season. The (business) correspondence is tedious and endless…

PARIS, 11 August 1912.

The mornings in Paris enliven one’s pulse and stimulate thoughts and the ”Déjeuner“ rounds them off delightfully. But in the evening where are the Berlin lights and flowers to be found, and the Berlin youthful high spirits? The little Parisian dresses in black even in the summer, and she disappears from the streets directly the shops are closed. Then the everlasting cocotte appears who, fundamentally, is just as soberly thrifty and positive as, collectively, all these Mademoiselles M …of whom the female part of France is composed. Compared with Berlin, a summer night in Paris is almost gloomy. The “average“ man’s expression is really more stupid than elsewhere. On the whole the woman is stronger, more energetic and cunning; only sees her aim for quite a short distance ahead, and is constantly on the “qui vive.”
On the first day of my arrival (Friday) I lunched at Foyot, because the feeling on the other side of the Seine appeals to me quite differently. “Here one reads books; on the other side one reads newspapers,” Widor said to me - whom I met at lunch. When I told him what brought me here he made a remark which is typical of the French outlook. “When you are a landowner, you will be one of us.” A landowner is something so solid, respectable and unchangeable.
I decided yesterday (Sunday) to drive to the Gare de l’Est, but as the driver at this command replied, “Not further than that? I should prefer to go into the country,” it occurred to me that I could make the trip in the motor-car, which I agreed to do at once. We went through the Rue du Faubourg St. Antoine and out through the Parc de Vincennes. The road passes through two or three villages and went through blooming, cultivated, not strikingly picturesque country.
The house, which was the attraction that brought me from Berlin, is pretty and cheap; but it requires as much again as the original price to be spent on it in order to make it inhabitable.
Towards evening I came back, dined well (the fresh air had stimulated my stomach but been injurious for my head) and spent quite a stimulating evening, by myself, until midnight, on Montmartre.
The evening before that I spent quite differently and I will tell you about it in its turn. We must do everything in order.
On a previous evening (that is, Friday) I had met Vollmoeller on the Boulevard. He addressed me in Italian and said, in Paris he was always reminded of the superiority of the Italian over the Frenchman… He had had a long conversation that day with d’Annunzio. We made appointments for the following day (1) to lunch together; (2) to discuss the libretto in detail ; [1] (3) to meet d’Annunzio. Through a misunderstanding we did not meet for lunch. The discussion took place at tea time and made me feel hopeful about my work. (With so much on hand I am a new man again. The endless number of details to be considered; the continual planning and replanning makes me quite young again!)
Late in the evening we went to the Hôtel Meurice, rue de Rivoli, a sumptuous hotel. D’Annunzio’s welcome was warm and his manner that of a man of the world. He was in dress clothes and pumps, and in the company of society people, two ladies and two gentlemen. A very beautiful Italian woman, who was naturally kind, was there and her name intoxicated Gabriele almost foolishly. She is called Donna Beatrice di Toledo, Marchesa di Casafuerte; and certainly it sounds like a whole play by Calderon. The four went away immediately after the usual compliments; “Je vous ai applaudi” and “ quand vous reviendrez a Paris”… And we remained behind, three of us, including the Olympic one. D’Annunzio is sympathetic, quick and lively of thought; a charming narrator. A little ”scented” and affected and at the same time sometimes shy and abashed. He informed us about his newest piece, which he wrote especially for Mlle Rubinstein; and because of this there is so much mime and so many dances, that it requires as much music as a pantomime.
Whilst he talked he unfolded such an array of rich pictures and colours that one became quite enchanted; although in the end one had to confess that he had only put together a series of designs, costumes and ceremonies. He intimated that he would have liked me to write the music… But Vollmoeller said to me afterwards that it would have been an unsuccessful labour. He does not believe in d’Annunzio as a playwright. (He, d’Annunzio, is very dependent on ideas of success, hence his immeasurable respect for Wagner and - even for Puccini!) D‘Annunzio and I separated very warmly, with many germinating plans, and this meeting has pleased me very much.
So I have fulfilled my little mission and shall turn, without haste, towards home. I am so glad I shall find you all together!…

[1] The “Geheimnis”.

PARIS, 12 August 1912.

…Yesterday I bought something very rare, almost unknown and of great beauty, for 25 francs; that is, 12 pictures on the Legend of the Wandering Jew by Doré, in the original edition. They are very strong and as woodcuts are also unusual. (I thought at first they were lithography.) Published 1862, just 50 years ago, at the same time as the first edition of the ”Misérables.” This style-less epoch has now become “historical” and we can see a definite expression in it. In France, anyhow, the epoch was important. (I believe in Austria, too.) Early this morning, in bed, this aphorism occurred to me:

“Because they ran in front of them, those who were left behind only saw their backs and, therefore, thought they had no faces.”

Had a long and serious conversation with Vollmoeller yesterday evening, chiefly about literature. He considers Stefan George the greatest poet of our time: “He guards the linguistic conscience of literature.” He does not think so much of Goethe as I do. I said: “How wonderful a verse like this is: Stürzen wir uns in das Brausen der Zeit; how it must have sounded when first it was written, coming after such writers as Klopstock and Gellert! The idea of joining time together with noise, movement and sensuality was unheard of up to then.” He agreed. He always finished up with the refrain, “You are a better man of letters than I.” In the same way d’Annunzio welcomed me by saying, “I know that you are a philologist.”…
I am still wandering about without any aim to-day and tomorrow….
You are all most warmly greeted at home; we four will soon be sitting at the round table (which is too small)…

PARIS, 14 August 1912.

I went round the opera house for half an hour yesterday, and studied the plan of it. As far as I can say about architecture, I think the form genial and the execution of it masterly. The ground plan, above all, is grand; and it was a splendid idea to put this ground plan under Garnier’s bust in the place of an inscription. Every line which the walls follow was put in its place with the greatest certainty and clarity. The decoration is heavy and conventional certainly; perhaps Garnier was less of an artist than a pure architect, and much can be put down to the account of his period. Who knows, however, whether they will not say he was right about everything, later on. It is certain that what he had to do was to preserve the representative French style and to accentuate the national side of it, and for that he was obliged to put on state uniform.
I have never seen the inside of the house, but it seems that the big staircase is unique in construction.
The curve of the façade is perfect; the mind’s eye carries it on at either side.
“What a work of art keeps through the ages is its form,” said Vollmoeller to me.
To-morrow, I think, I shall start for home…

LONDON, 1 October 1912.

Even without piano-playing, it would have been a horrible journey. I was in pieces when I arrived…
Ysaye plays next Sunday in the Albert Hall (with Backhaus and Melba) the - Gounod’s Ave Maria.
The newspapers gathered the following news about me: (1) I had finished a new opera; (2) arranged the Berceuse for cello; (3) am hopelessly ill.
Thank God, to-day, in spite of 2 bad nights, I am quite well. To-day is my “half” birthday, the 1st October.
The playing goes well. I almost think it interests me again; consequently it can still be improved or changed…

PETERSBURG, 6 November 1912.

I remained behind, very sad. [1] I went on foot from the station to the hotel; it took me an hour. Later, I walked for another two hours in Moscow, this town with its (for me) foreign language, amongst a crowd composed of students, suburban people and cheap cocottes. In appearance, I thought the town could be compared in a certain way with Edinburgh or Venice. Melancholy as I was, the ugliness of it disturbed me and I decided that towns - like works of art, like everything really - are incomplete and deficient, never right in character and always unfinished. Man’s optimistic wish to admire allows him to overlook a thousand atrocities in favour of one idea, which has been inspired by a few beautiful and characteristic things in a place. If one feels in a state of opposition, one can see most things in Moscow and Venice as ugly. In short, some stimulation being taken for granted, the impression lies in oneself…
The concert was a memorable one and was perhaps even more imbued with a spirit of festivity than in Moscow. Here, too, it rained flowers; there were laurel wreaths and they called out “Campanella.” I played as well as I can play…
The 78-year-old Cui (who I thought was dead) was at the concert. The wife of the critic Ivanoff, who is a sister of Frau Sgambati, greeted me. The hall was quite full. It would have been inhuman had I not felt a good deal of emotion. I gave myself up completely, too, to my playing; so that to-day I am not up to very much…
I start this evening for the first Riga concert. It makes it a little easier for me that they speak German there.
The long-promised Schirmer edition of the Chopin preludes is giving me a great deal of thought again. I should like to put many of my ideas into it….

[1] After Gerda Busoni’s departure.

RIGA, 7 November 1912.

It was a glorious thing to get your letter this morning (at 7) and other letters too…
Robert Freund writes very beautifully; amongst other things he says. “The Sonatina took me captive at once. The very unusual harmony just suits the fantastic, mystic character of the piece, and gives the impression of a natural, spontaneous intuitiveness.
“I ask myself why I cannot get in touch with Schönberg whilst even the most daring things you de seem quite natural to me. Is it because of the incompleteness of his form, the short sentences and lack of interest in his themes? You are the true Futurist in the sense that your influence is for the future - etc.”

RIGA, 8 November 1912. .

It is quite comfortable and quiet here… There is some Empire architecture here too; it is remarkable how this style suits all climates and nations - probably because it is impersonal.
In general, a town such as this is more prepossessing than any of the towns in Russia, which are disconnected in form and where all the splendours of the State seem to be displayed on pedestals in the midst of poverty.
An excellent bookshop, an equally excellent wine shop, are flourishing oases. Riga reminds one most of Königsberg; the long riverside is very lively and picturesque. Market stalls, steamers, sailors, poor people - a wide perspective.
It seems there was a moment after the revolution when the Lefts tried to push themselves to the fore…
They have asked me by telegram to give a 3rd concert in Petersburg. Don’t think it tiresome of me that I refused. I should have been obliged to go to the station immediately after the 3rd concert in Moscow and go as quickly as possible to Warsaw from Petersburg. This is my third letter since you left. Really, looked at closely, I am a little martyr. Not only must I always do what I am opposed to doing; but do it too with all my concentration and strength.

RIGA, 9 November 1912.

If I look out of my window (it is the morning after the concert; it is snowing and everything horizontal is white) the impression I get is like an incorrect but similar copy of my time in Helsingfors. It reminds me of how, from “Wrede’s Hus“ [1] I looked out on to the little garden laid-out in front of the theatre. And, for a moment, it seems as if there had been no lapse of 23 years. Memory is one of the greatest mysteries to me. In this case it concentrates on one small far-away point and springs over thousands of impressions.
The power of forgetting and remembering clearly again in many cases; the helplessness of the will, even when it might be of the greatest importance to remember; and the sudden return of memory, often through an unimportant trifling cause - all this is too little studied and has hardly been explained at all.
We spoke with Wetzler about Toscanini. The latter believes that in his case memory is visual. That is to say, he remembers the picture of the score, as it is printed, and with him it is almost automatic. A photograph in the brain.
I know, in my childhood, that I saw the turning over places when playing from memory and that a piece, quite well known to me, seemed strange in a new edition. Then there is a kind of “finger memory”; the fingers run along the usual road like a dog, and I might make a mistake as soon as I thought consciously. I believe that the memory is almost the only cause for being in a state of excitement before a public performance. If one is excited, one is afraid more than anything of “forgetting “!…
From outside it seems so still and quiet here, and yet on all sides the people almost eat each other up with jealousy. These continual little battles and annoyances must consume them more than the big agitations in the wider world. (One learns to understand Strindberg well.) And here desire is added to it all. The people burn with lust for life; the men with unsatisfied ambition and the women --- I noticed this with both men and women yesterday evening!
Dear Gerda, for few is it so beautiful as it is for us. Let us be thankful and happy…

[1] Busoni’s first flat in Helsingfors, 1889.

ST. PETERSBURG, 10 November 1912.

There is nothing to be done about it. I have been almost forced to give the third concert in Petersburg. Read this letter, which is really very flattering.

“ST. PETERSBURG, 26 October (= 8 Nov.) 1912.

“Excuse us for approaching you once more, in spite of your decision. We believe the reason for your refusal is founded in the fact that you do not wish to over-tire yourself. We should like to propose, therefore, that you give up playing to the students in the Conservatorium and instead of this give a third concert here. In your own interests we consider a third concert to be quite indispensable, and we were really very happy when an accident gave us the chance of getting the hall for the 6 November. It is a fact, that during the last 10 years no artist has had such success here! and it would be unforgivable not to use it to the fullest extent by failing to seize the possibility presented of your giving a third recital.
“If you had the tenth part of the conviction we have of the necessity of a third concert here you certainly would not hesitate to give it. We shall deeply regret it if we cannot realize our aim, and you cannot be converted to our opinion. Taking all this into consideration, may we be allowed to beg you once more to telegraph to us at once respecting your decision?
“In the pleasant hope that it will turn out to be in favour of our proposal, we greet you with the best wishes,
for Andreas Diederichs,

ST. PETERSBURG, 10 November 1912.

On the whole, Riga was a pleasant intermezzo; sometimes I love such towns, with their quiet church squares, crooked alleys and old buildings; but I have noticed that everything pleases me better as a memory. Memory is sometimes a master in the art of overlooking petty details. Remembrance gives us the artistic picture of what has been experienced. One should learn to compose from it. It is like a marvellous sketch. I remember how surprised Benni was the first day in Basle when I said to him, “This will make a beautiful memory.” Now I see clearly what, at that time, I only divined unconsciously. It is for this reason that one is generally disappointed if the beautiful remembrance of a place takes one to it a second time. The first impression is seldom exact or complete. That was the case with Boston, it seems to me.
Here in Riga, too, they are using sleighs already. The drive to the station in Riga on a winter night - the town looking like a drawing by Wilhelm Schulz, deserted, with old-fashioned street lamps (like the scene in the Brautwahl) - makes such a pretty, picturesque picture in my memory….

MOSCOW, 13 November 1912.

For 6 days I had no letter and to-day I found it here!… So you found the Chorus in the prison in Fidelio beautiful? You “gourmande“ ! There is little music that is more beautiful. When Beethoven feels with humanity, his feeling is so strong that he needs very few technical means to express it. The feeling suffices completely. I am glad you have come round to my ideas of the theatre and the style of the inside of the house. The public must be prepared by it for the pomp and unreality. A play should offer something which is contrary to daily life; it fulfils its purpose when it gives what life has not got. This conception of its purpose is certain to come back…
I thought of playing the Delius Concerto myself.
After the second concert in Petersburg the people (over 100) stood in a queue from 4.30 in the morning in order to buy cheap seats for the third concert… That touched me.
I shall try to cancel Lodz, and in that way I shall be at home one day sooner. I want the day badly, for many things…

ST. PETERSBURG, 19 November 1912.

I took leave of Moscow yesterday evening (the Liszt programme is much more strenuous than it looks on paper); from the concert I went straight to the station. Frau Kussewitzky had provided the “provender.” She is an excellent woman. Herr and Frau Diederichs were with her. Here Tam conducted about like Serenissimus, looked after like a tame monkey on a string.
Before leaving, I spent the evening with the Kussewitzkys. It was rather a formal evening. Nikisch and Bloch were there…
The Beklemischeffs have become my intimate friends. I love them both.
I looked closely at the Kremlin and I remembered your remarking once, quite rightly, that the walls and outside doors are in the old style of North Italy. They were, as a matter of fact, built by Italians, as all the most important and best Empire buildings were!! I came to the conclusion that the Russian peasants have a style of their own, which comes into art, but art has no style of its own. For example, the Venetian song (that is used in Venezia e Napoli) has become a Russian folk song; workmen from Italy brought it over. It was very interesting to learn all that. A very old and famous church in the Kremlin (whose name, unfortunately, I don’t remember) is quite in the style of St. Mark’s inside. (My father would have felt triumphant.) The architects of the theatres and the two halls of honour in Moscow and Petersburg were also Italian.
The following story provides excellent material for a novel. You know that the cellist Wersbilowitsch and our old friend Hildebrand (can’t you remember his nose?) clung together for half a life-time as musicians as well as boon companions. Hildebrand finally went back to Denmark, in order to die in his native country. Twenty hours before his death he wrote to Wersbilowitsch and entreated him to give up drink; pointing to himself as an example from whom to take warning, as his intemperance had ruined him. Werbilowitsch received the news of Hildebrand’s death by telegram and the letter arrived three days later, so that he had the feeling of its having come from another world. This shook him so much that he immediately gave up drink, the next summer went back to Finland, and after many wanton years worked and studied again seriously.
His friends and acquaintances heard of this transformation and waited with great joy and excitement for Wersbilowitsch’s first concert in the new season. The evening came, and W. played the first piece so nervously, messily and incorrectly (formerly he had been so free in his playing and always certain of success), that during the interval, in despair, he emptied half a bottle of brandy almost at a gulp. From this moment he went downhill rapidly again and died in misery quite forsaken by all.
On my last day in Moscow, the two musical favourites of that country, Josef Hofmann and Rachmaninoff, came to see me. I can get on well with Hofmann. He is fresh, wide awake, and moderate in his views, and takes an interest in many things.
Scriabin was very nice in the evening at the concert - (Chopin had heroic aspirations too, but on the whole he remained in his own more limited waters. It is not in Scriabin’s nature, either, to compose big scores, but he tries to do it. I don’t consider that they will live, but I respect Scriabin for striving for such a high ideal.)

ST. PETERSBURG, 20 November 1912.

I am such a remnant of past glory to-day; was seldom so tired, and still have to play at the Conservatorium - and to be fêted! The people here have treated me very, very well. I am grateful for it. Yesterday evening it rained laurel wreaths. Perhaps a hundred small wreaths came down from the gallery - it was very pretty…

WARSAW, 21 November 1912.

You shall have one more letter, all the more because I have been obliged to postpone my departure for half a day. I have put a great strain on myself by springing from the concert platform into the sleeping-car and I dare not do it again, for the last four days have made me absurdly tired. It was only yesterday afternoon that I played in the Petersburg Conservatorium and since then I have been travelling for 18 hours. It was lovely, faced by woo young and absolutely enthusiastic people, to fulfil a little mission. In spite of the enthusiasm the taste for ceremony which the Russians have did not fail ; it was ceremonious and impulsive at the same time.
I saw Rubinstein’s death mask. The greatness in the physiognomy is undeniable and I felt very affected by it.
A Princess von Altenburg (aunt of the German Crown princess) presided. Glasunow was charming and simple. A dozen or so of the people from the Conservatorium were at the station and made a demonstration. My send-off was quite theatrical…
I was guarded and conducted about like a prince and could feel palpably how “imprisoned“ such a ruler must feel. I enjoyed the solitariness and the silence in the train thoroughly…
The only civilizations in existence (I have thought this before) are those which are beginning or ending. Only one small space in Europe, anyhow, can boast of a complete civilization. On the map it is rather like a pinpoint. I thought more about it and discovered the following about America. (Skip it, if it wearies you.) The civilization there came from Europe, and produced on the coast people like Franklin, Lincoln and Poe. Fortune hunters crowded the West and ran wild. When they got rich they required beauty from life, to suit their crudeness and according to their taste. Primitive in intellect, with too much wealth and using it too much for pleasure, these people were the originators of Americanism. And this lack of culture turned back, like a wave, to the coast and inundated the East. I am afraid it will remain like this for a long time…