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Clara Schumann to Brahms 18 Oct. 1863

June 16, 2010

Clara to Brahms
Düsseldorf, Oct.18

I should have acknowledged your kind parcel much sooner had I not been terribly busy.  The deluge of work with which I have been flooded is really almost too much.  My correspondence about concerts is endless, while in addition, I have to practise diligently.  Unfortunately my conscientiousness is, I might say, increasing so painfully, that I always feel with every piece I approach as if I were only just beginning to practise it properly.  I have been here for the last ten days, after having  shut up my little house, which was no easy matter for me….
Julie Asten and Hanslik must have told you a good deal about Munich.  It was very fine, but only in parts, for on such occasions one often forces oneself to partake of pleasures which, on that very account, cease to be pleasures.  The one great defect of the festival was that there was too much of it.  I should like to know what musician could listen to a concert lasting three hours (on the third day there was one lasting four hours) from beginning to end with the same zest.

But I have not yet mentioned the most important thing of all, which is your Rinaldo.  So let me tell you that I read it through with the same pleasure as I did in Baden.  It is a splendid and vital piece, extraordinarily full of dramatic fire, interesting and arresting throughout.  Its effect must be wonderful, provided of course that you have very strong tenors.  I am rather frightened about these, because you often make them go extremely high.  I suppose the final chorus will follow very soon…. Thank you very much indeed for the “Hexenvariationen”.  I have started practising them most eagerly.  But they don’t seem to be suited for playing in public, the combinations are too surprising and laymen would not enjoy them the first time of hearing.  I think it will be necessary to insert some with more simple harmonies, and then one (I mean the listener) would not find them such an effort.  Just think this over.  My favourites are the third, fifth, sixth, tenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth.  I shall no doubt add many others to the list when I can play them properly…. I shall think of you on the 15th of November.  I hope it will be most successful.  And now with best wishes for your welfare and happiness, with affectionate greetings, Your Clara.

Litzmann, Berthold, Ed., Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms 1853-1896, Vol. I, Edward Arnold & Co. 1927

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